Perfected Book Review (Elizabeth’s Version)
By Kate Jarvik Birch
Published on July 1, 2014 by Entangled: Teen
Genre: YA, Dystopian (ish)
I was very intrigued by the premise. I don’t know if it really fits into the dystopian genre, as nothing is very different from our current world except the pet situation. The United States has passed a law allowing people to keep genetically engineered humans as “pets.” Ella was raised/trained at Greenwich Kennels and told her purpose in life is to bring happiness to her owners. She is adopted by a congressman who helped pass the pet law and his family- a wife, young girl, teenage boy, and older sister who is out of the house. There is a mystery as to what happened with their previous pet. Ella becomes a companion to the young daughter, Ruby. She gets the feeling the wife doesn’t want her there but doesn’t know why. The congressman shows her off to all his friends as if she were an expensive car. Meanwhile, Ella starts to develop feelings toward the teenage son, who she knows she isn’t allowed to be with. This causes her to question her purpose in life and wonder why she can’t have her own happiness.
I thought the comparison of Ella as a pet to a dog was well done. Ella is given a beautiful “necklace” with ID tags (I.E. Collar), microchipped, and there is talk of spaying her. There were also allusions to pets being like slaves, even though their purpose is more to be on display than to serve in the traditional sense. It all definitely raised ethical questions.
I really liked Ella herself. Although she has grown up naive and brainwashed, she was still a likable heroine. I wanted the best for her and sympathized with her when she was in the real world for the first time. I felt sorry for the challenges she faced. It seemed realistic for someone in her situation.
The love story was just so-so for me. It seemed more of a plot convenience than “true love.” I don’t know. I didn’t like the love interest all that much, maybe he was just too stereotypical? Doesn’t want to do what his dad wants to force him into, angst-filled teenager, etc. I’m not sure I can put my finger on it, but it just felt too contrived and I couldn’t believe they’d actually fall for each other.
I did love the relationship between Ella and the young girl, Ruby. Ruby is an unpopular kid without many friends and so she and Ella form a very sweet bond. I liked reading about kind-hearted Ruby who blurs the lines between owner, friend, and sister.
I did feel that there were some gaps to the pet situation though. A neighbor alludes to the fact that genetic experiments were started in Nevada with people saying they were only making companions for the elderly or otherwise in need. However, that’s really the only background information we are given about the experiments or the law. I also was not convinced on why someone would want a “pet”. It’s another being to feed and care for and pets are not self-sufficient (for example, Ella doesn’t know how to heat up food). I guess you could argue that a dog or cat pet is also work, but they don’t require as much space, money, etc. as a human pet. It only seemed to make sense for someone who was going to take advantage of the pet, but it was unclear to me why other people would get pets.
I really am eager to read the sequel and see what happens next. I like Ella and I find the premise fascinating, but I hope the background and current world of human pets will be explained in more detail in the next two stories.
To read Lindsey’s review of Perfected, click here.