This one is really, really going to depend on whether you can relate to the heroine, because the whole story is told from her point of view, and her perspective does not seem super grounded in reality.
Plot: Annika has been building up her dating app Make Up. It’s meant to be a sort of AI therapist for couples on the verge of separation, and it has a lot of people very interested and just as many people very anxious because they’ve invested a bunch of money in the app and it’s taking much, much longer to get to market than expected (see AI – those things are apparently complicated). So on top of the stress of trying to get this app to market, she’s also dealing with concerned investors and a landlord no longer confident they can pay rent. What’s worse? An app company dedicated to breaking up with people via an intermediary (like an ubereats driver) has moved into their floor, run by Hudson, another developer and guy Annika hooked up with over the summer and who she suspects stole her idea, bastardized it, and profited madly from it. Shenanigans ensue.
The thing is, every part of this conflict is so obviously contrived from minute one so there is no tension except the tension in my jaw as I wait hundreds of pages for Annika to figure out exceptionally basic, obvious things. I don’t know if you need a spoiler alert for this, but no, an app that breaks people up via intermediary has nothing to do with an app using artificial intelligence to help partners work through their problems. Suggesting that one is a copy of the other in any context is ludicrous. Also, all of Annika’s financial problems are self inflicted. She has a rich dad she can ask for support at any time. So literally the main driver of conflict during the entirety of the book – whether she will be able to stay in the office she loves, whether she will be able to get her app to market before her funds run out, all that could have been solved with a five minute phone call to her dad. I think we’re supposed to feel that her efforts to succeed on her own are commendable, but they’re not. It’s not like she’s estranged from her family. She goes over for dinner every week. They’re very close. Just ask for the money, even as a loan, or accept that you have killed your own business by failing to make use of the resources available to you. This is not some big drama. This is predictable, by rote storytelling.
This over-dramatizing of small or non-existent issues extends to her relationship to Hudson. He’s out there doing his own thing and on the basis of her being mad that she bailed on him after they hooked up and he came up with a very different app idea that happens to be in the same vague sphere as hers, she is so angry she picks fights (including physical ones) and tries to damage his business. Hudson is telegraphing in no uncertain terms that he’s interested in her and wants them to at least make peace with one another and that he’s pretty mad at some crap she pulled that summer too and she interprets all these interactions in a way that made me straight up feel gaslit. Annika wants to be far more interesting than she is so she invents conflict in every direction and then soaks in the drama. I wanted to clobber her. And this is coming from someone who is perennially defending belligerent heroines because they are my literal catnip. Give me a bitch heroine any day. But this girl needs therapy.
Where the story does shine is whenever Annika is talking about their app. It’s genuinely very cool. Her enthusiasm for it is infectious and her desire to be a good role model for other young women, and particularly women of colour that want to go into tech, is really the one really fun part of the book to read about. Hudson is also a fantastically drawn out, if a bit implausible character. His consistent characterization kept me hopeful all the way to the end that the point of the story would be Annika actually maturing as a character, but there was very little of that, even by the end.