Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Book Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch
Publication Date: July 1st, 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genres: YA, romance, dystopian
Perfection comes at a price.
As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.
Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.
But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.
So I went in to this book thinking it was a stand alone but... NOPE. I did my research on Goodreads before I bought it and there was no sign that it was in a series. Let me warn you now it is the first book of a series. How did I find this out? THE ENDING. Oh my poor heart. But I digress, let's get to the review!

I read this book a while ago and due to major procrastination I have only just got around to writing this review. My notes and uncooperative memory are my only tools in writing this so bear with me if it turns out to be incoherent and ranty as I start to remember more and more about this book.

Perfected  is about a world where the richest of the rich can keep 'pets' which are really humans. (It's as weird as you think, maybe weirder). These girls are born and bred for this exact role and expect nothing more and nothing less. The story focuses on one pet in particular; Ella who's about to be sold off to a family. She has been told to expect luxury, to have the finest dresses and tastiest food and to be waited on hand and foot. All she has to do is be a companion.
She's happy to play hairdresser with Ruby, the daughter of said family, until the dark underbelly of this perfect world is revealed.

The first note I wrote down, like at the very top, was 'super creepy congressman' and oh my goodness I cringe just thinking about this character. He was 'subtle creepy' which made him even worse because apart from Ella and Penn no one else noticed. He would always be lurking and watching and *shudder*. Then there's the whole other  pet thing which I wont go in to details about because learning about this piece by piece throughout the story is an experience I don't want to take away from you. Creeptown times a billion.

The characters were good! They weren't exactly deeply developed but they were entirely interesting to read about, especially Ella. It was strange hearing how she felt about everything compared to how she acted. It was like she knew the whole situation was wrong but she just went with it because that's what she's been brought up to be. Why should she question anything in a house where she is just a pet?

Penn was a great character and I really grew to like him. He knew something was going on behind the closed doors of his father's office and he had obvious suspicions about his past so he was constantly there for Ella. At first he wasn't too thrilled about having another  girl as a family pet but his feelings make perfect sense in the leading chapters. He hates the idea of kennels (that is literally what they call the training centers) and the idea of girls being bred and brought up to be perfect pets. He's the perfect example of someone who wont be shaped by what society deems right.

Ruby was a sweet addition and it really helped show how this world was. She was so naive to the fact that this whole idea of keeping humans was wrong, in fact she thought of Ella as not only a new friend but bragging rights also. It was 'cool' to have a pet and Ruby loved the idea and she loved Ella. It was bittersweet to read about them together because Ruby would fluctuate between thinking of Ella as a pet and thinking of her as a sister. But as I said she was a great addition to show how, in such a short space of time, this law that passed has become a norm for most and the younger children genuinely did not see a problem.

I know I keep referring to this book as creepy but really there is no other word. I mean it in the best way possible don't get me wrong! Like the oh-god-it's-so-weird-but-I-can't-look-away type of creepy. I mean the family spoke about Ella like she really was a pet. I wont say much about how because again that's an experience you should go through yourself. One thing I will mention though (because it happens early on and has been included in past excerpts) is that she actually receives a TAG as a present from the Congressman. Like a dog!!! That man's creep-scale is off the charts, all bells ringing.

Now for the things I didn't like very much;

DUN DUN DUNNNNN! Instalove. *dramatic flailing*. Although it was only one sided for quite a long time. For Ella the attraction was instantaneous, Penn takes his time. BUT I do think this one can be forgiven because, as I see it, this is the first actual experience she's having with a boy her age if I remember correctly. Being trained and bred into the perfect pet doesn't exactly leave time for boys nor do I think they'd even be allowed such a luxury. Pfft luxury.  But, yes as I said I do think this is the one and only time I will be okay with instalove. She doesn't know how to control these feelings having never been introduced to them. I remember hitting that stage where I was like 'oh yeah, boys are cute' and having maybe 5 crushes and loving 3 of those.

Moving on... The lack of background information was the main reason for the missing star. I only noticed at the end when I obsessively thought about the book for the next few days but I found I had a lot of questions. Maybe they'll be answered in the sequel? Fingers crossed. Some of my questions include; are these genetically engineered 'pets' test tube babies? Are they surrogate babies? Are they just taken from families? There isn't much about the kennels or the training centers apart from the red door. Ah mysterious. But I have a feeling we'll get to know more about these in the next book.

Finally; there is a lot of angst towards the end of the book. Like A LOT A LOT A LOT. It made it hard to continue because I knew what was going to happen and my emotions became very messy. I already knew what happened to the other pet - it wasn't hard for me to guess. That was also a tad disappointing. I love shocking twists that make me want to lob the book through the window and into France. Ah plot twists.

As for the ending... Well I knew there was a kick in the feels waiting for me at the end of this book. Things were working out too well and when there's a sequel coming up you don't usually get a nice, happy, all-ends-tied ending with happy couples riding off into the sunset. This book was no exception. It all seemed very rushed at the end but I really like that anxious, nervous, need-to-move-quickly vibe so overall it worked.

It wasn't a massive hangover but enough to make me sob due to the release date of the next book (so far = no time soon). I really want to know what happens to Penn and how Ella deals with her new situation. Soon please, Kate! :)

Has anyone read this book? What did you think?

P.S. Make sure to go and enter my giveaway in the post below! :)

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