Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch
Published on July 1, 2014 by Entangled Teen
Genre: YA, Romance, Sci Fi? (Not entirely sure how to categorize it, honestly!)
The United States of America passed a groundbreaking law allowing one human being to possess another, genetically engineered human, as a pet. Pets are bred in kennels, and undergo extensive training in poise, etiquette, conversational skills, and some sort of talent. Looking pretty and ensuring her master’s happiness are the sole purposes of a pet.
Eight is one of twenty pets groomed at exclusive Greenwich Kennel. In order for a prospective owner to have merely the chance of obtaining a pet, they must pay twenty-thousand dollars to enter a lottery for a ticket. Owning a pet is a life-long commitment, and since Greenwich pets are the best of the best, they only draw the best of the best of possible owners. The pets are artfully arranged in a room, and prospective masters are permitted to roam the room, staking out which pet they would like best. A talent show is held for the pets to show off their skills, and then the choosing begins. Each pet is called by a number, since their owners would change their name, anyways. When Eight’s number is called, she is led away by a Congressman and his wife.
She is thrust into this dysfunctional family and assumes her role as a dutiful companion, complete with a new name, Ella. Her owner is a powerful congressman who helped the law come to pass. Then there’s the congressman’s wife, who seems distrustful of Ella because of some sort of drama with their previous pet. Ruby is the spunky, freckled, friendless child who loves Ella faithfully. Finally, there’s Penn, the handsome, brooding teenager whose music strikes a chord in Ella’s classically trained heart.
Life as a pet is not as easy or simple as Ella had expected. Still, she does her best to push aside her own happiness in favor of her master’s. The consequences of bad behavior in a pet included being put to sleep. Images of the red door at the kennel where the bad pets entered, but never returned, haunt Ella’s dreams. But try as she might to be the perfect pet she was created to be, she can’t help her growing feelings for Penn, or the desire to create a happy life for herself. Ella must choose between the pampered but stifling life of a pet, or risk a chance at freedom that may put her very life on the line.
From the world building, to the character development, to the dialogue, to the beautiful descriptions, this book was incredible!
As a public policy major, I really enjoyed the world building and the law aspect of the story. The justification for owning another human, the resistance by those who disagreed with the law, the social implications, the ethical reasoning behind such barbaric practices like spaying a pet… It was great! My only criticism is that I wished there was more back story as a support.
But add in an innocent and likeable main character and a cute musician love interest (future ManCrushMonday, perhaps?), and my bookish heart was happy! I was on the edge of my seat towards the end, and when the story was finally finished, I was flailing about, desperate to discover what happens next.
You’ll be happy to know that, according to the author, there is a sequel coming out! Sadly, it won’t be released until NEXT YEAR, and Birch has to keep the working title under wraps for now. While disappointing that an entire year must pass before getting more of Ella, I am so glad that I read this awesome YA book!