Thanks to Partner NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the digital ARC of Lily Menon’s Make Up, Break Up in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published on Tuesday, February 2.
I am a huge fan of Sandhya Menon’s YA books, particularly When Dimple Met Rishi, so when I saw that she was expanding into writing adult romance under the name Lily Menon, I was thrilled.
Make Up, Break Up is the story of Annika Dev, an intelligent, ambitious young woman who has designed an app called Make Up to help people in relationships communicate more effectively. Inspired by the romance of her parents, Annika has a vision of making the world happier, a vision she shared with Hudson Craft when they met in Las Vegas at a tech conference. And then he stole her idea. And twisted it.
Months later, Hudson has created his own, wildly successful app called Break Up, which is designed to break up with partners for people to save them the heartbreak and inconvenience of those conversations. Then, just as Annika is realizing that she may not have enough money to keep working toward her dream, Hudson moves into the office across the hall, rubbing his success in her face.
I appreciated Menon’s messages here about women so much—and, particularly, women of color—in tech fields and how difficult it can be for them to get a break, and the premise of two relationship apps with opposing goals is clever. Unfortunately, I felt from the beginning that it was pretty obvious that Hudson did not steal Annika’s idea, which meant that the conflict felt manufactured from the start. Annika’s reactions to Hudson and his success were difficult to get past. Also—and I’ll avoid spoilers here—I felt as if the resolution of the novel required growth and change in the wrong direction for the wrong character in this relationship. While Annika and Hudson have plenty of chemistry, the happily ever after they reached at the book’s conclusion didn’t quite convince me.
I admire Menon so much, and her track record means that I will certainly pick up whatever she publishes next. I’m afraid my expectations were just too high for this one.
I'm Jen Moyers, co-host of the Unabridged Podcast and an English teacher.