Teenagers Chloe Chang and Daniel Kwak form an unlikely partnership to elevate Chloe’s art exhibit, Heartifacts, to the next level. As the pair work together, feelings develop, but Daniel is dead set on not being another rebound—and Chloe needs to admit to herself that’s exactly what he would be. So she throws herself into working on Heartifacts, bringing in flashy influencers that threaten everything she wanted for the exhibit. In order to find the original message (and maybe even convince Daniel that she’s finally moved on from her ex), she’ll have to go back to basics.
We’ve all been there—what do you do with a relationship box when it becomes a breakup box? Well, Chloe takes the hurt that she is feeling and finds a way to turn it into something that can help her (and others) heal from her pain and find connection in a world that is becoming increasingly harder to connect in. Though just teenagers, Chloe and Daniel both are already thinking to the future, thinking to how they can affect the world around them and to make it better, and they carry themselves a lot of the time as older and more mature than their age, which is a breath of fresh air. But they still have those traits we know and love to hate about teenagers—they can be selfish, self-centered, and focused on all the wrong things. Chen finds a balance between these two sides of the characters in a lovely way.
One of the things I loved the most about this story was the way in which Chen handles human connection and detachment. In a world where connection takes place a lot more often virtually than in person, it’s easy to get lost in the influencers-as-marketing-tools of it all. I thought that utilizing this idea as the method through which a bit of a found family is formed was a clever choice. Chloe loses touch with what she’s trying to accomplish because of this virtual detachment, but she reconnects with it through human connection and I think a lot of us (myself very much included!) could learn a lot from this.
The romance was cute and respectful, but the pining and angst could’ve been turned up a bit more for my taste. I mean, these are teenagers—they needed to be way more dramatic than they were! While the non-romance plot of the book didn’t need it, I think the romance plot would have benefited greatly from the addition of Daniel’s POV to the story. But, overall, this was a super quick and fun read perfect for fans of light and fluffy contemporary YA romance.
ARTIFACTS OF AN EX by Jennifer Chen is available now and you can get a copy for yourself here.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2024 Book Recommendations."