The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel Review: Being bitter about relationships

June 23, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, Books, Reviews

The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel Review: Being bitter about relationshipsThe Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel
Published by Harlequin Enterprises, Australia on May 1, 2014
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the mall. Becca Williamson breaks up couples.  

Becca knows from experience the damage that love can do. After all, it was so-called love that turned Huxley from her childhood best friend into a social-world dictator, and love that left Becca's older sister devastated at the altar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Becca strikes back—for just one hundred dollars via PayPal, she will trick and manipulate any couple's relationship into smithereens. And with relationship zombies overrunning her school and treating single girls as if they're second-class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even Becca's best friend, Val, has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend. 

One night, Becca receives a mysterious offer to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and the football team's star player, Steve. To succeed, she'll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date—starting rumors, sabotaging cell phones, breaking into cars…not to mention sneaking back into Huxley's good graces. All while fending off the inappropriate feelings she may or may not be having for Val's new boyfriend. 

No one said being the Break-Up Artist would be easy.

How many books do we see centered on couples getting together and  romance, resulting in eye-rolling corny scenes and cliche lines? Becca totally feels our pain, so she spends her spare time breaking up the cheesy couples at her school for some cash.

The Break-Up Artist opened with a lot of potential, Becca started out to be a really hilarious, sarcastic character that is sick of the couple territory at her school. There is a shortage of males – much less dateable ones – at school, and all the women seem to be clamouring for their attention. The men can pretty much get who they want, and happiness is defined by coupledom. To Becca’s disgust, everyone swoons over her ex-best friend Huxley’s new squeeze, who are the perfect IT couple. I was all for the revenge plot stirring in Becca’s head, as she gets an offer she can’t refuse on splitting these two up.

What resulted however, was Becca’s bitterness becoming extremely evident as she makes derogatory remarks at everyone with a partner, including her best friend Val who has just entered a new relationship with Ezra. Becca starts treating Val like the plague and becoming jealous of the time she spends with Ezra, and not her. She’s one of those friends who just can’t be happy for you when you get into a relationship because she’s more preoccupied with the fact that she doesn’t have anyone else to spend time with.

I try to concentrate on the movie, but all I can see are my best friend and her boyfriend slobbering all over each other. We used to be friends.

Becca also does some pretty terrible things to break up the couples around school, as she hacks into people’s phones, plants condom wrappers in their cars and hooks them up with their ex-girlfriends. Although Becca’s parents have a healthy relationship, she thinks they are in a loveless marriage because they don’t do big romantic gestures all the time, like the people at her school. This is a girl who has a warped sense of love and romance, and it made her extremely unlikable and someone who judged quickly and bitterly.

After the terrible way she treats her best friend, it turns out she was just jealous as she starts to develop feelings for Ezra. She kisses Ezra behind Val’s back and starts wanting him for herself, while he continues to date Val. Being someone who was so bitter about relationships, I couldn’t believe she went into one herself by being the other woman no less, and it became clear that Becca was just a lonely, jealous bitch at heart.

All you’ve done is lie and deceive and manipulate just so you don’t have to walk down the hall alone. You needed a boy, and you got one. But that boy is a genuinely good guy who deserves someone who actually cares about him. 

The world within The Break-Up Artist was also an incredibly dramaticised one that bordered on being unrealistic and slightly offensive. Every girl in the novel seem to be mindless cardboard cutouts who talk about makeup, boys, gossip and shopping no matter how intelligent they were. Every single woman is desperate to be in a relationship, so any boy, regardless of how attracted they were to them or how well matched they were could pick them up using cheesy movie lines. Couples would form at the drop of a hat and they would become official after just 1 date. This is not a world I enjoyed hearing about or wanted to be in, based on the stereotypical characterisations of high school students and relationships.


I would love to tell you that The Break-Up Artist gives us something to take away with after setting up such a bitter dramaticised world of relationships, but sadly, that is not the case. The book had so much potential to send us a powerful message about relationships but still honouring your friendships, but it chose to focus on an inane experience from an unlikable teen instead. Some people will enjoy this, but by the end I just wanted to break up with the book.

Rating 2 out of 5

I received this book from Harlequin Australia in exchange for an honest review.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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67 responses to “The Break-Up Artist by Philip Siegel Review: Being bitter about relationships

  1. I was looking forward to reading this book, but Becca sounds like a horrible person. I'm not sure I would appreciate the extent she goes to in order to sabotage people's relationship. And there's a bit of cheating going on involving her and her best friend's boyfriend? Ugh. No, this book is definitely not for me. That is something I just don't appreciate at all in my books.

    Sorry this was such a disappointment, Jeann. Lovely review!
    Nick @ Nick's B recently posted…Blog Tour Stop: Boneseeker by Brynn ChapmannMy Profile

  2. I think the author may have been trying to connect with the side of us that is a little tired ( or maybe its just me ) of perfect love in books. I think they may have missed the mark though :S. We all love a snarky strong character, but I need to see mine with at least a heart of tarnished silver 🙂
    Lorelle Page (@Lorel recently posted…Self-Promoting Author – Oxymoron?My Profile

  3. I do enjoy a good drama but not when it's created in an unbelievable manner. It did kind of flop, there was an attempt at the end to bring it round but I wasn't sold.

  4. Good to hear you are picky with it so you tend to avoid the more frustrating ones Emily. I'm just coming into contemporary recently and I quite enjoy it when it's good, but get frustrated/bored if it doesn't hold my interest.

  5. Oh my gosh Becca is terrible, I just cannot emphasise that enough! It was terrible when she stole his boyfriend and then treated her best friend like she wasn't being genuine when SHE was the one who was dishonest! Gahhhhh

  6. I did read reviews from people on Goodreads who enjoyed it but unfortunately it made me even more frustrated that I didn't have the same experience. Yeah, all of the girls were just stereotypical and annoying, I found it offensive.

  7. I'm so glad I didn't end up requesting this book, because if there is one thing I can't handle in YA contemporary it's immature judgmental characters. I've seen quite a few reviews of this books that say the same thing about the heroine (if you can call her that), she seems like a very unlikeable character. The fact that she hates that her friend has a bf and cheats with him behind her back is such a major turn off and that alone would stop me from reading this book. So disappointing that this book wasn't more enjoyable.
    Amy @ The Reading Re recently posted…{ARC Review} Perfected by Kate Jarvik BirchMy Profile

  8. UGH…I so wanted to read this one. You know, some people love or hate this one and now I'm on the fence. To read or not to read, that is the question! Lol! Brilliant review my friend! 🙂

  9. Oh, man. Becca sounds like an awful character. What the freaking hell, dude. You must be really bored out of your mind to destroy innocent relationships just to feel better about yourself. If you're so sad about something, don't drag others with you because that's just low. AND ENCOURAGING CHEATING??? WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND'S BOYFRIEND?!?!?! Good lord. This gal will make me want to gouge my own eyes out of frustration (ew, imagined that and it's not a pretty picture). I'm sure she'll grow later on, and I know some characters don't need to be likeable at first, but this one's premise just seems contrived and unworldly to me.
    Faye @ The Social Po recently posted…ARC Review: In The End by Demitria Lunetta – RANT ALERT!My Profile

    • I know, it doesn't fully delve into the psychology of WHY she does these things, only because she's sick and tired of it and she doesn't think those relationships are genuine. The cheating was terrible, so terrible. Becca is definitely first on my "want to slap fictional character" list.

  10. Melanie (YA Midnight

    I can definitely see where you're coming from Jeann–Becca was pretty annoying. However, I liked the underlying message of friendships coming first and for the main character to learn what love truly is; but yes, very dramatic though I didn't mind (I think it's a bit of a MG crossover).

    Lovely review, Jeann! <33

    • Thanks Mel, the message was very subtle and kind of came out towards the end but after what a terrible friend Becca had been, I just couldn't buy into it anymore. Thank you lovely!

  11. Oh… I'm sorry this was a pretty awful read for you, in the end! It doesn't sound like much fun.

    I'd heard of this a few times, and I quite like glancing at the cover since it's quite unique and eye catching, but the synopsis didn't strike me and I'm glad I didn't plan to read it, because it certainly sounds like a disappointing, frustrating read. Sorry and I hope your next book is better!
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  12. I agree completely — I mean, I haven't read this book, but I think that it's pretty hard to make a character like this sympathetic. I mean, it would be one thing if she opened the eyes of a person to what their partner was really like, but watching a character plant fake evidence or spread false rumors does not sound funny or entertaining. And then she goes and steals someone's boyfriend? Probably not my kind of book.

    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics
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  13. I was ACTUALLY CONSIDERING READING THIS. I am soo soo glad to have read your review, Jeann. The main character sounds like a nightmare of a friend and her actions make me want to slap her. No one should have her for a best friend. I wouldn't wish a friend like her on an enemy!

    Ugh *shudders*

    Fantastic review, Jeann!
    Rashika recently posted…Random Things in Motion #4: Books and BiasMy Profile

    • I know right, she didn't even have a good reason to be doing what she was doing. It kind of reminded me of Easy A a bit but it wasn't a good reason to go around breaking up couples because you are jealous.

  14. I haven't read the book but based on what you shared, it seems like Becca was an insecure girl who chose to act out because her friends didn't give her the amount of attention she preferred… Not sure if I could stand her attitude, but I have to admit, I'm curious about the story. Thanks for sharing!
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  15. Oh it's sad that the good things at first didn't continue like that. I'm s orry the book wasn't for you, I heard great things about it but haven't tried it I confess. I'm not sure I'll…

  16. Awww…I'm sorry this one fell flat for you Jeann! 🙁 I can definitely see why – it definitely becomes annoying after the protagonist and the story overall become so overdramatic. I think I'm going to give this one a miss because it just doesn't sound like it will be realistic to me with all the drama happening. 🙁 Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
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  17. I think yours is the first negative review i've read about this book but while i had initial plans to read it the MC is already rubbing me the wrong way and i feel like i'd just end up chucking the book aside if i had to get inside her head.
    Lily recently posted…The Art of Lainley:ReviewMy Profile

  18. I've mostly seen positive reviews for this from other bloggers, but the whole thing rubs me the wrong way. I usually like unlikeable characters, but this chick already makes me want to strangle her without even reading the book.

    "Becca also does some pretty terrible things to break up the couples around school, as she hacks into people’s phones, plants condom wrappers in their cars and hooks them up with their ex-girlfriends."

    I don't care what her reasoning, it's seriously effed up, and then to charge for that. If it were the real world and I found out she did something like that to me or friend … well, she wouldn't be able to kiss anyone for a very long time. lol. Rawr!
    Christy recently posted…In the End by Demitria LunettaMy Profile

  19. I wasn't particularly interested in this one before, and now after reading your review? I'm even more sure that I won't be reading this book at all!

    Thank you for a very honest review as always, Jeann!
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  20. When I read this book, I actually enjoyed it, but reading your opinions about it made me rethink my thoughts. I do agree that in the real world, this isn't an ideal place to be in, where girls were mindless creatures who are boy crazy. I don't remember it that way when I was in high school!
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Review 180 : We Were Liars by E. LockhartMy Profile

  21. Gah, this will be a wallbanger for me. I hate characters like Becca who hides her real reason for doing what she does which is basically jealousy over everyone else's happiness. And the fact that she would steal her BESTFRIEND'S boyfriend. What a bitch. And yes, a very warped one at that! I am staying far, far away from this one. I hate cheating and I feel like Becca will be someone I'd want to punch in the face.

    I hope your next read will be better Jeann!
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  22. Oh man, this book is not for me. Becca sounds so obnoxious, I know I wouldn't be able to stand being around her. Also, all those stereotypes would piss me off. I hate when girls are shown as being these shallow people. And I also hate how sometimes girls are portrayed as being shallow just because they like makeup or fashion. Grr!

    Thanks for this review. I will definitely be avoiding this one.
    Quinn @ Quinn's recently posted…Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate RorickMy Profile

  23. I mean.. yeah, it can be annoying to constantly look at PDA, but seriously? It's just weird if people are so bitter that they constantly hate on couples :/ Ugh, Becca doesn't sound like someone I'd like to spend time with 🙁 And also, too dramaticised HS stuff is just.. not believable >.< I'm so sorry you didn't love this, but I can clearly understand why. I do agree though that at the end of the day it's a good message, just.. too bad it isn't something I'd like to explore 🙁 Great review, my lovely!
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  24. I have to say even from my perspective this novel did have a lot of potential. But now from your review I can also see it's flaws. It all seems rather plastic, like they are so false within themselves and their relationships including Becca! I mean why would she want to break up people? Doesn't she want to fall in love? Hmmmm, I'm not sure if this is going to be a book I'm going to enjoy as I thought. Thank you for an honest review, Jeann! 🙂
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  25. I've decided.

    I hate this book with the just reading the blurb.

    But now, I hate it even more. I can't take it. When I read the blurb, I sneered, but after your review, I want to smack the girl for being so bitter. >.< I've had enough of annoying characters for now, so I'll stay away from this one. 🙁
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  26. One of the reasons I didn't even go for requesting this one was it felt a teeny bit dramatic. I mean, anyone who's breaking up couples is going to be seriously bitter/jealous. And that's CAN come off juvenile…which this kind of does? *sigh* It sounds frustrating, tbh, although (like you said) that gives it GREAT room to bring home a heartwarming message. Seems like it flopped like a royal pancake, eh?
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  27. I read a LOT of contemporary, so I'm pretty picky with it nowadays. Cardboard cut-out characters annoy me no end, especially because it's contemporary and those are supposed to be the MAIN focus of the book. And bitterness isn't really my thing. Plus, there are enough stereotypes of high schoolers without adding more! Lovely review, though, as always 🙂
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