Thank you to St Martin’s Griffin for providing a review copy of Make Up Break Up
As a software engineer, I love finding books that focus on women in STEM – books about career driven women in male dominated fields who are looking for love. What can I say? I love some engineering chops in a leading lady. When I got the opportunity to read Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon, a book about rival app inventors falling in love (enemies to lovers!!), I was thrilled with the concept. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as thrilled with the book itself.
Love, romance, second chances, fairy-tale endings…these are the things Annika Dev believes in. Her app, Make Up, has been called the “Google Translate for failing relationships.”
High efficiency break-ups, flashy start-ups, penthouses, fast cars…these are the things Hudson Craft believes in. His app, Break Up, is known as the “Uber for break-ups.” It’s wildly successful—and anathema to Annika’s life philosophy.
Which wouldn’t be a problem if they’d gone their separate ways after that summer fling in Las Vegas, never to see each other again. Unfortunately for Annika, Hudson’s moving not just into her office building, but into the office right next to hers. And he’ll be competing at the prestigious EPIC investment pitch contest: A contest Annika needs to win if she wants to keep Make Up afloat. As if it’s not bad enough seeing his irritatingly perfect face on magazine covers when her own business is failing. As if knowing he stole her idea and twisted it into something vile—and monumentally more successful—didn’t already make her stomach churn.
As the two rival app developers clash again and again—and again—Annika finds herself drawn into Hudson Craft’s fast-paced, high velocity, utterly shallow world. Only, from up close, he doesn’t seem all that shallow. Could it be that everything she thought about Hudson is completely wrong? Could the creator of Break Up teach her what true love’s really about?
One of my main sticking points with this book is the overall lack of maturity these characters had. This book honestly read more like a young adult book than an adult romance – the two main characters had the maturity of high schoolers and treated their high stakes businesses as jokes. I could not suspend my disbelief that business owners would behave this way. They both regularly crossed professional boundaries and generally behaved in a very unprofessional way. Also, I couldn’t believe that a person who hates another business owner (to the point of obsession) and accuses them of plagiarism would not know that the rival business they are accusing was actually established before theirs.
There are some genres where I really enjoy unlikable characters (thrillers, mystery, literary fiction), but the romance genre is not one of them. Unfortunately, I found Annika to be unsavory and without redeeming qualities. Annika was pretty self important and rude – she treated everyone around her very poorly. I didn’t like how she treated June – June was her best friend and yet Annika often spoke down to her or disregarded her feelings – their relationship was very lopsided and showed how self centered Annika was.
Unfortunately, Annika really didn’t grow as a character throughout the book – despite her constantly messing with Hudson’s business and generally treating him poorly, she really never faced any meaningful consequences for her actions. She basically ended the book the same as she started it: immature, entitled, and overall not likable. The story never made her work for her happily ever after – she just stayed the course and it was dropped in her lap. She never had to redeem herself in the eyes of Hudson, who she had treated poorly from the start.
I couldn’t buy into the romance between Hudson and Annika – it felt forced and they really lacked chemistry. They also had very poor communication – they both refused to speak to each other about their grievances. I never felt the heat growing between the two of them – it felt more like a light switch – suddenly, they were all over each other with no lead up or previous romantic vibes. This lack of organic growth in their relationship made it impossible to buy into the fact these two were supposed to be in love. It also really didn’t help that I found Hudson to be a very one dimensional character.
The side characters were pretty poorly written – they were severely underutilized and really didn’t have a lot of character definition. Take June for example: the only thing the reader is ever really told about her is that she’s rich, cycles through men quickly, and is unwaveringly loyal to Annika. I would have liked to see more of her romance with Ziggy or hear more about what was going on in her life too. She could have been swapped out with another generic character and the story would not have changed.
Make Up Break Up was a huge disappointment to me – I had high hopes and really liked the premise of the book, but I found it didn’t deliver. Between the unlikable heroine, the forced romance, and the overall immaturity of the book, I could not get into the story. If you’re looking for other romance novels, be sure to check out Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan and Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. 1/5