Mel Strickland has a computer science degree but is stuck working at the help desk at Hatch, a start up company that helps young coding designers acquire funding to develop their computer project. Mel is smarter than most of the "Hatchlings" trying to code, but in a male dominated field, she finds she is getting no where. After a few horrible dates using the app Fluttr, Mel decides to develop her own app....JerkAlert....which will work with Fluttr to warn other females of any guys on Fluttr that turn out to be jerks. Overnight her app goes viral. Mel finally meets a decent guy, one of the Hatchlings, Alex Hernandez, and they are getting along great until she decides to look him up on JerkAlert. Let's just say that this is going to blow everything up in Mel's world. Just when she thinks life couldn't get any better, her entire world caves in. It will take a huge leap of faith for Mel to find her happy ending with Alex but it ends up being worth it in the end. I really enjoyed Mel. Being a computer programmer I could relate to a lot of what she went through. It was nice seeing a female portrayed as a smart programmer. I also really liked Alex. He was just a sweet, honest guy and he was perfect for Mel!
I went into How to Hack a Heartbreak expecting a romantic comedy, or at the very least, something poking a bit of fun at online dating. I suppose in the latter, it does do that with its focus on nearly everything negative in dating apps. Fortunately, I couldn't say how accurate that focus is as I was married before those apps took dating by storm, but I can imagine that there is a fair bit of negative to poke fun at. Despite a couple of chuckle-worthy tidbits, this book clearly missed the mark for me. That could be because I prefer strong women, but I didn't care for Mel from the beginning, and she didn't do much to change that as the story progressed. That said, Mel wasn't the only part of this book that rubbed me the wrong way. Other than our weak leading lady, the characters lack enough development to really form much of an opinion of them. Her friends have some potential and do provide some comic relief, but they fit the cookie cutter group of friends that have been done and done again. We have the brain, the cynic, and the one in a committed relationship, and then there's the material girl roommate. While they do live up to those labels, I didn't know much more about them. As far as Mel's love interest, Alex, that's pretty much it. Alex is the love interest. He apologizes a lot, and he's the only nice guy at work. That's pretty much the whole of Alex. They obviously have sexual chemistry since they fall into bed a couple of times, but I didn't get a romantic vibe from either Mel or Alex. There is some telling the reader since they say they like each other and they do have a couple of meals together, but Mel is so paranoid over every action that her fears become the focus. Finally, there's Mel's job. Yes, I know that sexual harassment in the workplace happens. It happens much more often than it should, and it is a serious topic. However, I find it hard to believe that there is only one nice guy in a whole company of men. Granted, it's a small company, but really? Mel isn't just a victim at work, she's an enabler when she repeatedly takes it, and her attempts at vindication are weak and pitiful. I completely understand the need to keep a job when there are bills to pay, and Mel may very well have been the 'whipping boy' even twenty years ago, but this just goes way over the top. Finally, there's Mel's app, which may be amusing and in theory would be a good idea. What it turns into is just one more way to be negative online and one more thing for Mel to be paranoid about. I realize that my feelings about How to Hack a Heartbreak are in the minority, but it is what it is. For me, this was one eye-roll inducing story that took much too long to get through.
Mel left university and went straight into working at the helpdesk for a startup incubator company. For four years she has been nearly invisible unless or until she is needed, the lone (or close to it) woman in the frat house – subject to verbal abuse, put downs and little to no support from her ‘boss’. Of course, she knew that being a woman in tech meant that it would be tough, the boy’ club doesn’t like the encroachment, and there’s plenty of moments to show that. But, with her friends and her trusty app, she’s swiping left and right to see if she can’t find her own happy ending. But anyone who’s a woman and been on line knows that sometimes people are stupid. And that stupidity often tends to them leading with body parts – not the ones we care about either – always below the belt, usually unsolicited, and when questioned – they are offended! This causes Mel to start a ‘slam page’ about all the bad dates she’s had through THE popular ‘swipe’ app for singles. In the midst of the chaos, there is one man developing an app, and he and Mel hit it off. Unfortunately, his partner is everything that you don’t want in a guy, and while Alex is wonderful, Mel is tentatively testing the waters – and finding that things are even more difficult. But her app, and the response is garnering attention – does she have the will and the courage to strike out on her own, find a new situation and support in her chosen career? Oh yes, she does. And the growth, her friends and the very real incidents of harassment and devaluation simply based on her sex are wonderfully and honestly portrayed, and show just how a sense of humor, support and being good at what you do offer options and choices to change the ‘how it is” to the “how it should be”. A wonderful, quick read that surprised with it’s depth and characterizations, and brought an ‘everyday girl’ into a heroic position based on her desire to do good while making the world of computers better for women. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.