How to Hack a Heartbreak: Female Coders Fight Back

I have thoughts! When I read the synopsis for How to Hack a Heartbreak, I was all in. I loved a good romance and one where the main character fixes computers…um, give me all of that! And then you tell me she uses her skills to get revenge by starting her own app called JerkAlert?? I am 1000% in! But, unfortunately, this was not my favorite book. Maybe I gave it too much hype in my head (maybe I’m starving for a feminist romance) but while I did enjoy certain parts of it, there were certain plot points that almost made me stop reading. Let’s get to the review!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers–“Hatchlings”–who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr.

But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight.

Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez–the only non-douchey guy at Hatch–has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

Mel is smart, hilarious, and fun, but works at possibly the most irritating job known to man (or woman). She is constantly undermined, talked down to, and deals with sexist bullshit almost 24/7. She is also dealing with online dating and dudes sending her dick pics, standing her up, and just being pieces of trash. Luckily, Mel knows her worth and knows she is a badass coder and just needs to catch a break to make an impact on the world. But when she gets stood up one too many times and gets one too many dick picks (one is more than enough!!), she decides to take action and create JerkAlert, allowing women to take back control.

I loved this concept and if I had any computer skills besides trying to figure out how to re-position a picture on WordPress, I would be doing the same thing. JerkAlert blows up with women posting all kinds of things about dudes they’ve spoken to or gone out with from Fluttr (ficitional dating app in the story). Mel can barely keep the website running smoothly with how many people are using it.

During this time, she also meets Alex who happens to be the nicest guy at her office. They both clearly like each other, so they start dating. It’s nothing too serious but she really comes to care for him.

One night, she looks up his name on JerkAlert and is surprised to find two posts about him that pretty much say he ghosted a woman after they had sex. It’s definitely a let down for Mel. But with no evidence of whether the post is true, she keeps dating him, even having him meet her friends at a party. That being said, she never tells him she is the person responsible for JerkAlert.

The climax of the story comes when JerkAlert becomes so big that Mel starts getting calls from major companies who want to buy it, including Fluttr. But things don’t go as planned and Mel ends up having to make decisions that could affect her job, her integrity, and her future.

While this is happening, she finds a text and picture of a naked woman on Alex’s phone and confronts him about it. It turns out he had been lying to her about certain things. Will they end up together in the end? It’s a romance novel, what do you think?

Ok, let’s start with the good. Mel and her friend’s might be one of the best friendships I ever read. They are supportive, all have their own thing going on so you never confuse one for the other, and they are just amazing. Whitney is hilarious and fully supports everything Mel does with JerkAlert. I love them all! I also really like certain parts of Mel’s story. Like I said, if I had the skills, I would make JerkAlert too. I also liked that despite what her boss says, she always tried to defend herself against the assholes in the office. She knows she is smarter than them and never tries to hide it.

Ok, the stuff I wasn’t thrilled with. I HATE when the conflict in a romance is miscommunication. Sometimes it works, but here it just didn’t. They were both lying to each other about certain things and ugh.

I also didn’t love Alex. He thought ghosting was an ok behavior and he couldn’t understand why Mel made JerkAlert. Is he totally clueless to what women go through?? It felt a bit unbelievable that he couldn’t fathom why the app might be necessary or needed.

And maybe it’s the world we’re living in now with #metoo that makes me think this. It’s kind of impossible to have not seen something in the news about what women have been going through.

Beyond that, I just didn’t feel the chemistry between Alex and Mel. It didn’t click for me and my personal red flags kept going up at his behavior.

There is also a point where Mel has to makes a decision about JerkAlert (whether to sell the database to Fluttr or not). The decision she ends up making feels like it goes against everything she is as a character. It gets “fixed” in a roundabout way but it made me question everything I liked about her to begin with. This decision is what made me almost stop reading the book.

Overall, I did enjoy most of How to Hack a Heartbreak. With the books I normally read, I am in dire need of a light, carefree story and that’s what this is. Mel’s friendships are written so well and I really enjoyed reading about a female coder. I am giving How to Hack a Heartbreak 3 out of 5 stars. If you’re looking for a light, fun romance, give this one a shot. You might like it better than I did.

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway comes out July 30, 2019.

Thank you to Netgalley and Graydon House Books for the free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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