Review: Breakup from Hell – Ann Dávila Cardinal
by Ann Dávila Cardinal
Publication Date: January 3, 2023
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Miguela Angeles is tired. Tired of her abuela keeping secrets, especially about her heritage. Tired of her small Vermont town and hanging out at the same places with the same friends she’s known forever. So when another boring Sunday trip to church turns into a run-in with Sam, a mysterious hottie in town on vacation, Mica seizes the opportunity to get closer to him.
It’s not long before she is under Sam’s spell and doing things she’s never done before, like winning all her martial arts sparring matches—and lying to her favorite people. The more time Mica spends with Sam, the more weird things start to happen, too. Like terrifying-visions-of-the-world-ending weird.
Mica’s gut instincts keep telling her something is off, yet Sam is the most exciting guy she’s ever met. But when Mica discovers his family’s roots, she realizes that instead of being in the typical high school relationship, she’s living in a horror novel.
She has to leave Sam, but will ending their relationship also bring an end to everything she knows and everyone she loves?
Clever, hilarious, and steeped in supernatural suspense, Breakup From Hell will keep you hooked until the last page.
After seeing that cover art, I couldn’t resist reading this book! And the book matches the cover. It’s a fun, somewhat irreverant story about a teen dating – and then breaking up from – the son of Satan.
Mica and her abuela moved from Puerto Rico to Stowe after her mom died. With her acceptance letter to UCLA burning a hole in her pocket, she can’t wait to get out of Vermont and out from under Abuela’s thumb, even if it means leaving her best friends – Zee, Barry and Rage – behind. After all, nothing ever happens in Stowe… at least until she bonds with the hottest guy she’s ever met over a book by her favorite horror author. Suddenly she can’t stop running into Sam everywhere and she’s more attracted to him than she’s ever been to anyone else. What does it matter if his sister is a total creep who somehow made her hallucinate horrific creatures with one touch? Or if she and her friends seem to suddenly be having strange visions and experiencing super speed and strength?
Mica is, as another character says, a “total badass.” But she’s also a regular teen girl who goes to Catholic school, trains at a local dojo, and works hard to keep her grades up. She appreciates that everything Abuela does for her is done out of love, but she still feels stifled by her expectations and frustrated that she refuses to tell Mica anything about her parents. It’s no surprise that she’s initially flattered by Sam’s attention. They bond over typical teen similarities. He complains about how he’s always trying to impress his dad, but it’s never enough, the same way Mica feels with her abuela. But gradually Mica realizes that things aren’t quite right, leading of course to the grand reveal.
“Barry hoots. “Well, let’s go find him, people!”
Rage whispers back, “B-Man, you could enjoy this just a little less.”
I look around at my tribe. I love these people. They’re ridiculous and motley, but they’re mine.”
The beginning’s a bit slow and it takes quite a while to get to the good part. I mean, the title is literally “Breakup from Hell”! We can guess right away who Sam is and we know they’re going to break up! But once it does get near that breakup, it’s a hilarious and somewhat tongue-in-cheek off-the-rails ride. My favorite parts of the book are whenever Mica and her friends are together. They felt like teens who had been friends for most of their lives and their hilarious banter reflected that, like Zee mentioning she’s a pacifist while being chased by an army of minions.
“Well, I guess we know now why our parents were so concerned we get a Catholic education that they built a freakin’ school,” I say, desperately trying to lighten the mood.
“I owe my parents an apology.”
“You? I thought it was a good idea to date the devil’s son! Brilliant, Mica.”
Parts of the story draw from Catholicism and the Bible in general. Mica and her friends go to a Catholic school, they go to Mass, and they interact with several nuns and brothers. It never feels preachy though, just a normal part of their life, and they’re regular teens who swear and mess up. As for me, I particularly liked how quotes from Revelation were woven into the plot.
So, overall, I’d give this a 3.5. It’s a lot of fun in an over-the-top and very enjoyable way, but the pacing issues were very prominent. With that said, I’d happily read another book about Mica and her friends!