Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do--through intimidation and manipulation.
After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change--but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war.
Olivia may ruin everything she touches, but this time she won't go down without a fight--not if it means losing Whit.
And definitely not if it means losing what's left of herself.
This book is SO HARD for me to rate. There were things I loved about this, and other things that I really fucking hated about it. This is honestly one of the weirdest reading experiences I’ve ever had and I don’t really know how I feel. All I can say for sure is that this is DEFINITELY not for everyone, and I’m not even sure it was for me. What a strange book. I 100% want to read more from Laurie Devore in the future though because even though I didn’t necessarily like this book all that much, I was HOOKED from start to finish.
How to Break a Boy had me up til 1 am yelling "WHAT ARE YOU DOING" and "YESSSSSSSS" at literally every single character besides maybe Claire who is a total marshmallow.
This is a book that demands a pack of beer, a bowl of popcorn, and a box of tissues.
**Honestly, with the release coming up on us, I've been thinking about this book A LOT (a friend was yelling about the ARC I sent her and I ended up mentally and EMOTIONALLY revisiting it). Devore is one of the BEST new voices in contemporary YA. Some of her scenes are so raw, but there's also plenty of humor and good lord WHIT, MY CINNAMON ROLL SON.
Anyways, so looking forward to any future titles from this author. Stellar.
First off, this is no where near the angst-light contemp I was expecting. I knew there was going to be a mean girls aspect, but this was just too much for me.
I didn't like Olivia at all. And yeah, I settled in for the redemption set up, yet it never came in the pages I read. Instead, I found a MC who outs one of her BFFs to the entire school to get back at another BFF, a shit load of slut shaming, and threatening sexual assault to 14yo girls who want to be cheerleaders.
Olivia and Adrienne aren't mean girls, they're toxic af and I completely lost the interest in seeing Olivia work it out. Obviously from the reviews that are up already, I'm in the minority.
**Huge thanks to Macmillan for sending me the arc**
If I were to pitch this book I'd say it's reminiscent of Mean Girls. While some compare it to Pretty Little Liars I have to disagree. PLL is more juvenile and superficial whereas How to Break a Boy is much more powerful. And the pranks are downright cynical.
How to Break a Boy was not the light, fun read I thought it would be. It was addictive and I did like it in the end though. This book contains the most frustrating and unlikable protagonist ever. Olivia Clayton is a mean girl. She has intimidated and scared the student body into respecting her and she and her best friend Adrienne rule their school. I was shocked by the level of malicious attacks and insults these girls spewed at their classmates. This book really gives a deep look at the lust for popularity and the troubles of toxic friendships. The high school drama felt real, but the horrible pranks these girls pulled and the responses of the students were a tad unrealistic. I can't believe there were no huge repercussions for their actions throughout the years and that the students all listened to and revered Olivia and Adrienne.
Olivia Clayton's character is one of the most confusing and complex. I wanted so badly to like Olivia, but she does bad things, acknowledges that they're bad, feels horrible afterwards, and hates herself for it. Why can't she just not do the bad things?? I understand the pulls of popularity, but she fails to draw the line. Her character is what really drives the story and made me kept reading. I wanted to see if she'd redeem herself, and I realized I was rooting for her the entire time. There are so many times in this book when she's faced with a decision to do good or bad, but does she choose to be her best or worst self? It was painful at times to see her choices play out and hurt those around her including herself. But also there were triumphant moments when I saw her make the right decision. Overall the character growth in this book was impeccable.
I felt that Laurie Devore did a great job creating a backstory for Olivia that helped readers understand why Olivia acts the way that she does. Laurie really delved into the reasons why Olivia craved popularity and did all the bad things she did. In no way does that excuse Olivia for her actions, but I appreciated that this book gives such an introspective view on why. Laurie's writing was sharp and impactful. Teens can relate to and learn from so many of the ideas Laurie tackles in this book. The pacing was good, and although I didn't like everything that happened in this book, Laurie did a wonderful job with plotting.
Olivia and Adrienne have a toxic friendship in this book. I'm shocked by so many of their interactions, especially as they fought to take each other down. How to Break a Boy really highlights the manipulation and possessiveness that comes from toxic friendships.
I really enjoyed the romance in this book. I love that Whit challenges Olivia and never lets her get away with anything. He brings out the best in her and holds her accountable for her actions just as Olivia brings out a new side of Whit. The progression in their relationship felt realistic and I loved all of their moments together. They had such great chemistry!
Overall I really enjoyed this book. If you're looking for a book with an amazing romance, teen drama, and immense character growth then I recommend you check this out!
Trigger warnings: alcohol abuse, death of a sibling, cheating, car accident (in the past), bullying, slut shaming,
Words cannot even begin to describe how much I hated this. Olivia is a godawful character. There's basically nothing redeemable about her. She's a bully, and has been for years, and now she's using her brother's death in a car accident as an excuse for her behaviour. Adrienne is so over-the-top evil and manipulative and fucked up, and there's very little explanation for her behaviour other than that she's jealous that her dancing monkey (Olivia) found another friend. Olivia just...folds any time Adrienne is around, and GIRL. WHY THE EFF ARE YOU SPENDING TIME AROUND SOMEONE WHO MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE SHIT BUT CALLS HERSELF YOUR BEST FRIEND???? Like...??????
Don't get me wrong, I 100% buy the concept of the friendship drama stuff. I mean, I work with 1100 teenage girls on a daily basis and I see the havoc that they can create. But this? This was beyond ridiculous. I call extreme bullshit on the idea that not one staff member at that school had gone "You know what, Adrienne is behind all of this shit" and finding out a way to prove it. I also call bullshit on the idea of somebody as manipulative and destructive as Adrienne being the most popular girl in school, because no one likes that girl. Ever.
Let's talk real quick about Whit. He's a slice of plain generic supermarket white bread and I gave zero fucks about him. Forever Young Adult gave this book 8/10 on a the swoon scale. I give it 0/10. Their entire relationship is built on lies and I am not here for it. Also, he plays golf, and therefore in my head he's Chad from Scream Queens and no thank you please.
The thing I hated the most here is
I feel like my hatred of this stems at least in part from the fact that a) I don't live in the US, and b) I went to a girls' school with a year level of 70 and we all got along pretty well. Like, there was one girl in my year level that I didn't like - it was a weird personality clash from day 1 and she felt the same - but we were still perfectly civil to each other, and hung out together at our brothers' school music concerts because there was no one else to talk to. Are we Facebook friends? LOL NO I GIVE ZERO FUCKS ABOUT HER. But would I stop and make polite conversation for 5 minutes if I saw her in the street? Sure.
So the whole concept of the most popular girl in school being THIS AGGRESSIVE and THIS MANIPULATIVE and THIS HATEFUL is completely foreign to me, and that's coming from someone who's been on the receiving end of an awful lot of crap from 15 year old girls in the past year.
In summary: I hate this cover. I hate the writing. I hate the characters. And I definitely do NOT understand all the 4-5 star reviews of this book.
I don't even really know what it is about this book I love so much (probably fake relationship trope, that is my FAVORITE). This follows the high school mean girls. I was thinking that I wasn't going to like this since the main character, Olivia, is fairly unlikable, but she knows it. She admits that the things she's done are wrong, and she knows she needs to stop, but she is overcome by too many feelings of anger and hurt to really stop. Every time she annoyed me with something, I still felt bad for her. She felt so trapped in her life and town and her choices, and I could sympathize with her desperation. There was one thing she did though that really just got to me and I was so angry at her, but I'm pretty sure that was the point. You were suppose to hate her as much as she hated herself. This is basically a battle between who is the meanest after Olivia finds out her mean girl best friend is sleeping with her boyfriend. To avoid them, and to try to get her grades up, Olivia starts fake dating Whit, a smart, athletic, promising guy, who hates her. I love YA books about mean girls, and "broken" girls who use sex or partying or whatever to try to feel bigger than small towns. I love them because it reminds me so much of how my high school was and how life is so much bigger than that and behind every person, mean or not, is a story and a reason why (though not always good). People can change and I love coming of age stories that show that.
This made me laugh and cry, I stayed up all night to finish it, which I haven't done in a long time, and I found myself closing my eyes to image scenes over and over again; I can see where a lot of people wouldn't like this but I loved this so much.
This is one of those books that I REALLY liked, but I'd never actually recommend to anyone. I feel like it probably wouldn't work for a lot of people.
Misleading book cover and blurb.
Looking at that cover and blurb, you'd think this was a cutsey high school fake-boyfriend-storyline read, right? Well, it's NOT. There's hardly any lightheartedness in here at all actually, and it deals with some pretty heavy issues.
I started this book thinking I'd be reading something light and fluffy, prepared for something generic but entertaining. In chapter 1 already I did a double take and had to double check what book I was actually reading.
I thought the writing was really, really good, something I noticed immediately in that first chapter. There was a bleakness to the story, this sense of feeling trapped, that the author captured perfectly. It made the heroine a bit easier to swallow, because even though you won't ever agree with her decisions, you'll at least feel a bit of why she is the way she is.
Why you won't like it.
The heroine is horrible. Really, REALLY horrible. Her friends are terrible people. Everyone sucks and does shitty things to each other. The heroine is the worst. She's horrible but self aware, which kinda makes you hate her even more. Her decisions will frustrate you and piss you off. I liked her journey or whatever though, and as hard as it was reading it, I still liked it.
The story is kinda crazy, some things were over the top ridiculous. I just rolled with it lol.
I would have given this 5 stars if it hadn't been for that ending. It was the kind of stupid ending "moments" you see in bad teen movies. It took away from the things leading up to it and was a disservice to the story in my opinion.
3.5 Visceral, jaggedly raw, ragged with desperate pain. HOW TO BREAK A BOY is exquisite in its broken, almost violent examination of the "hot, cruel, slutty cheerleader" stereotype: the crackling allure of power, compulsive lies slipped between teeth, and a monstrous, abject girl who wishes she weren't monstrous. Superlative, ravishing. I fell in love.
Devore’s How to Break a Boy wasn’t remotely what I was expecting. The cover and title had me ready for an adorable fake dating contemporary romance. I mean, obviously I saw the darker stuff in the blurb, but the marketing made me think that would be more of a back story than it was. Instead, How to Break a Boy is a hard to take story with an often unlikable heroine who is struggling to escape an incredibly toxic friendship.
This falls into that category of books that I really struggle to rate because I think it does a lot of things very effectively, and it definitely made me feel stuff. But what it made me feel was uncomfortable and stressed and not so much anything pleasant. But it wanted to make me feel that way and it did. But I didn’t enjoy it. How to Break a Boy was largely frustrating read. Purposefully. But still.
Olivia Clayton is a mean girl. She became one when she moved to the boring southern town of Buckley, because top mean girl Adrienne seemed like the only girl in this backwater worth being friends with, so Olivia made fun of a fat girl and became friends with Adrienne. That’s one of her lesser evils throughout the book.
Adrienne clearly has anti-social personality disorder; she manipulates and fucks with Olivia constantly, but Olivia makes the choice to keep playing those games and to treat people like shit. The whole book is about Olivia owning that and trying to escape from Adrienne’s web. It’s a scary and compelling picture of what it’s like trying to get away from a toxic friendship with a psychopath best friend (the way Olivia’s convinced and cajoled by Adrienne over and over).
The book’s clearly doing a character arc thing, and Olivia is learning, but it happens very slowly. Olivia will consistently do absolutely monstrous things to people, including Whit, the fake boyfriend and love interest. Olivia spends most of the book being a pretty terrible person. While I did feel sympathy with her, most of the time I hated her thoroughly. The narrative definitely doesn’t let her off for any of her shit, but it so very hard to watch her constantly make really bad choices.
For the heavy novel that it is, I think How to Break a Boy may have worked a bit better without a romance, and I don’t think you should read this book if you came here for the fake dating. If you’re looking for mean girls, toxic friendships and psychopaths, you are in the right place.
I need more Laurie Devore books in my life. I gobbled this book up in all it's gleeful, mean, broken-hearted, turbulent, hilarious, smart, and romantic deliciousness. For fans of Courtney Summers and basically everyone who likes YA with complex and/or #MorallyComplicated characters.
Olivia Clayton is a mean girl with a soft side, but it’s buried so deep even she can’t see it. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their school until Adrienne betrays Olivia. When Olivia tries to get revenge, her anger slams against Adrienne’s ruthlessness and loses, taking nice guy Whit DuRant—Olivia’s faux boyfriend who’s becoming all too real—down with it. Olivia has to face up to the damage she’s done, and figure out whether she can use her finely-honed fighting skills to save her true friends, Whit, and herself.
Author Laurie Devore is a master at creating three-dimensional, imperfect characters that you can’t help rooting for, even as you cringe at every misguided misstep they take. Mix that with heartfelt family dynamics and a believable, swoon-y romance, and you have a book I couldn’t put down. This is a highly skilled debut and I can’t wait to see what the author does next.
Wow. I have to say that after finishing HOW TO BREAK A BOY, I'm a little bit afraid of Laurie Devore. Rarely have I had such a physical reaction to characters in a novel and therein lies the beauty of Devore's talent. Don't let the sunny yellow and bubble gum on the cover fool you. This is a dark book that tackles heavy subjects--grief and relational aggression at the top of the list--though there are moments of humor that round it out. I kept turning the pages as fast as I could to find out what would become of Olivia and her terrible life choices. Devore's razor sharp wit and keep observation of human behavior really bring this novel to life. I'm excited to see what she comes up with next!
Completely unlikeable yet redeemable character. The writing is totally absorbing and although it reminded me of the movie Cruel Intentions it still brought something fresh through the different perspective.
I, obviously, loved this book considering my 5 stars and it's new spot on my favourites shelf.
- I loved this. I love the writing style. I love that it's set in a small town. I love that the main character stuck her ground through the entire book and I love how complex the story is, the plot and each character was very well thought out and the story is a fresh of breath air for YA contemporary romance.
Read this if you like stories about: YA Mean Girls fic, high school drama, hypocrisy, fake boyfriends, keeping up appearances, people trying to get the hell out
The characters in this book are mean. Just plain mean. I often have to take chapter breaks to get away from the meanness of the characters. Like, wow. It's hard to think of the fact that they are all sixteen and seventeen year olds making everyone's life miserable. Ava and Olivia actually reminds me a bit of Serena and Blair.
It was a nice read overall, but I felt like it ended abruptly.
I was lucky to be able to read an ARC of HOW TO BREAK A BOY, and luckier still that I got to read it while relaxing on vacation at the cabin. Because these characters and their flaws and their raw emotions stressed me out - but in a good way. I could not put this book down, especially during the painful moments. I had to know how/if it would all work out.
And there's this one line at the end that really struck me, and I believe that line, in its profound, simple truth, will stay with me.
I cried again reading sad plot! Goshh I'm freaking sensitive these days pheww
Olivia's and Adrienne friendship are pretty scary. They hurt each other! They are so toxic goshh
Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer.
Olivia Clayton has mastered the art of tearing others down to stay on top. She and her best friend, Adrienne, rule their small southern town like all good mean girls do through intimidation and manipulation.
After Olivia suffers a family tragedy and catches Adrienne sleeping with her boyfriend, Olivia is over it. She decides to make a change but it's impossible to resist taking Adrienne down one last time. Up to her old tricks, Olivia convinces golden boy Whit DuRant to be her SAT tutor and her fake boyfriend. But when it starts to feel real, Whit gets caught up in Olivia and Adrienne's war.
And yes, it's true that I'm a TOTAL marshmallow. But I'm also someone who avoids popular books like Fault in Our Stars and anything Nicholas Sparks because I hate when it feels like a story is trying to manipulate me into the FEELS zone.
Seriously, Fuck that.
How to Break a Boy is a novel that begs to be compared to one of my former CW guilty pleasures: Gossip Girl. "Best Friends" Olivia and Adrienne are pretty much an Alternate Universe where Olivia is Blair Waldorf, Adrienne is Jenny Humphrey and, check this out, Jenny is the WORST, most cruel of the two of them when it comes to torturing her peers (and friends). These two lovely ladies have a best friend, Claire, who, like Serena Van Der Woodsen, pretends not to notice how horrible her BFF's are until their feud directly effects her (read: screws her over). Hell, there's even Ethan, who plays the role of clueless, sad puppy Nate Archibald to a T.
Honestly, I think your enjoyment of How to break a boy depends heavily on whether or not you can sympathize with or even love someone like Blair. I'm not sure how much Leighton Meester's portrayal of Blair had to do with it, but Blair was my favorite character. She was someone I rooted for even when she did horrible things. And, on the rare occasion that these horrible things came back to bite her in the ass, I sympathized with her because unlike the person serving her her comeuppance, I, the all-seeing viewer, knew what triggered her to behave the way she did.
I went into this expecting a light, scandalous read about 17 year old Olivia using a boy to ruin her best friends life, only to fall in love with said boy. It's not exactly an original scenario, but I was excited to see if I enjoyed this the way I thoroughly enjoyed Burn for Burn. I got a Hell of a lot more than I expected. I figured this would be the reverse of the usual "Bad boy changes for Virginal Princess" scenario, but it wasn't. This was about more than a good boy making a very bad girl want to be good for him.
Whit Durant, the love interest and chosen mark in Olivia's plot for revenge was more than a love interest. You familiar with the expression, "You can't help those who won't help themselves?"
Olivia didn't need a guy, much less one who initially hated her and everything she stands for, to help her realize she's a monster...which she really is. No, Seriously, her BFF Adrienne is a fucking monster, but Olivia's far from being an Angel. And if we're talking black and white, with black being flawed and evil, while white is being the straight arrow who's perfect in every way that doesn't have to do with actually living...Olivia (Black) and Whit(e) benefited each other because even when the black bled over the white, the end result wasn't more black than white....there was Gray in the middle, where every awful thing Olivia was, every bad thing she did wasn't as simple as her being a terrible human being.
HARRY POTTER REFERENCE TIME!!!!!! (No Joke, I can compare anything to my fave)
Olivia and Adrienne are the equivalent to Severus Snape and Lord Voldermort. There's no question who is beyond redemption (or even wanting it), but without that final penseive memory (or in this case full insight into Olivia's brutally honest 1st person POV mind) it was safe to assume Snape was (just as) almost as deplorable as the Ring leader. Basically, this is my longwinded way of saying that if, like me, you loved the middle name Harry Potter chose for his youngest son and his reasons for it, I think you can find a way to sympathize with Olivia Clayton even when she's at her worst....which, I'm not going to lie to you, is easily 60-70% of the book. I'm just throwing that in there because I know some of you won't give a shit that she doesn't actually enjoy being awful, because some of you see things in black and white :-P LOL.
Actually, you know what, I think I'll stop here before I start waxing poetic about how I can also relate Olivia Clayton's Hyde side to Adelina Amouteru in The Young Elites because her default response is to be evil. You know, without magical powers and shit. *Snickers*
This isn't a love story about a teenage girl breaking "good" when she accidentally falls for her pawn. It's about a leopard realizing that it didn't actually get (all of) it's spots from someone else because: Personal Accountability, you fucking Brat.
Oh and How to break a Boy is the most misleading title in my opinion. The boy isn't really the focus at all. And if Whit was the focus, I think the title "How to train your Dragon" would be more fitting because....man, Olivia Clayton is a piece of work.
Bravo, Ms. Devore. You got one gigantic, rambling review from me after I told myself I was done doing these. I didn't love Olivia Clayton. Hell, I didn't even like her half the time....but I do like how the story ends.
This review was originally posted on Andi's ABCs Holy anxious batman! How to Break a Boy made me so anxious while I was reading it. I was completely fascinated and enthralled by everything that happened, but Olivia and Adrienne terrified me and maybe me a nervous wreck. This was one of those experiences where you hate the main characters yet you enjoy the book and think people should read it. Because make no mistakes, Olivia and Adrienne are horrible, terrible people and yet I really enjoyed this book.
How to Break a Boy was seriously a roller coaster of emotions. I wanted to like Olivia. I wanted to feel bad for her and I did. But as soon as I did she would do something and I just wanted to smack her. Sure she had a tough home life, but that wasn't an excuse for what she did to people. It wasn't a reason to be a mean girl. And I wanted to blame Adrienne too, but I couldn't do that either. The thing with Olivia is she is a follower and always was. She needed to be liked by Adrienne so she did whatever she had to for the validation. And don't even get me started on her. That girl had no redeeming qualities at all. She was the absolute world's worst and there was nothing I liked about her. She was miserable so everyone needed to be miserable.
One character I did like was Whit. He was so adorable and endearing (until one part that I chose to ignore). He made Olivia seem like she was better than she was. He gave her a conscious and she wanted to be better for him.
In the end How to Break a Boy was a book that showed what can happen when you look at yourself and what you have become. How it is possible to turn things around if you are ready to make the effort and how not everything has to be about making someone miserable to make yourself feel better. It will give you massive anxiety but it's definitely a book to check out.
I have so many feelings about this book- it's one of those books you kind of hate because the characters are such awful people and it reminds you of a time and people you'd rather forget. Olivia is a sterling example of an unreliable narrator, even when she is examining herself clearly. I was very glad to see this wasn't a book where the bad best friend goes one step too far and then her #2 turns around and gets sweet revenge. No, Adrienne gets the best of Olivia constantly, and Olivia herself can't break free of the habits of being a nasty bitch (and her attachment to Adrienne), which doesn't make for a likable main character. Olivia is, however, very compelling and realistic-people don't change overnight. It takes a very long time for her to break down-and without a spoiler here-I think the "detox" Olivia goes through at the end was exactly what she needed to break free.
Great novel that I devoured...I couldn't put this one down. I was really impressed by the authors idea to write a book from the mean girl's perspective...especially one as mean as Olivia Clayton. As the story progress, and you learn more about Olivia's background, you feel pity for her but you can kind of understand why she acts the way she does. I could go on and on and on about Whit but I don't want to spoil anything for anyone! Just go pick this book up as soon as it hits the shelves...the cover alone will grab your attention and once you read the first paragraph there will be no going back :) Thanks to Imprint for the ARC!
I'm DNFing this because I just don't care. I thought it would be more on the fun side because of that cute cover but it's just mean and kind of depressing. I didn't like Mean Girls so I should have assumed that this wouldn't be for me, but I was hoping I would at least be starting to side with the MC by 100+ pages into the story. But at 120, I still hate her and find very little redeeming about her. I know that's all part of the story and based on the other reviews coming in, I have to assume that she gets better and the book gets more interesting but I just don't want to spend my time reading more of a book where I just hate almost all of the characters.
We all know mean girls like Olivia. Second in command to Adrienne these girls take bullying to a sociopathic level. When Olivia wants out, her so called best friend blackmails her. At the urging of her guidance counselor Olivia is tutored by Whit. The two decide fake a relationship only Olivia doesn’t realize she’s falling for him.
Olivia has a conscience, she just doesn’t listen to her inner voice. She makes bad choice after bad choice, actions that hurt others. Somehow, Laurie Devore had rooting for Olivia. I wish Devore had written Adrienne with more depth. She had no redeeming qualities and we never know why she’s so mean.
I was lucky enough to beta an early draft of HTBaB and fell in love with Laurie's darkly sassy main character and the high school world she lived in. HOW TO BREAK A BOY feels like Courtney Summers meets the South and I can't wait for others to devour this one :)
For those of my book club friends who quit this book before finishing it, let me tell you...
You did not lose out on much.
Yes, it was a quick read (finished it in a day) but it was frustrating. Adrienne is a psycho or a narcissist (or both) and even though the author writes a huge backstory to try to explain why Olivia would go along with Adrienne's terrible behavior, I did not think she was redeemable. Ethan's excuse for cheating on Olivia is inexcusable, Whit is a fool, and basically the only person who not terrible is quiet Vera, who just wants to write bad poetry and study for the SATs in peace.
This is a book about terrible teenagers doing terrible, dramatic things and maybe that is some readers' vibe, but it was not for me.