Perfected Book Review

Perfected Book Review (Elizabeth’s Version)

By Kate Jarvik Birch

Published on July 1, 2014 by Entangled: Teen

Genre: YA, Dystopian (ish)

Pages: 304

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.

***The photo above is from Amazon.com. I do not get paid by authors or publishers for my reviews- they are 100% my personal, honest opinion! I do, however, receive a small commission when you purchase a book through Amazon by clicking one of the links above. This does not impact the authenticity of my reviews in any way.***

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Fab Five Dystopian Novels

Fab Five Dystopian Novels

Dystopia is not a new theme in literature, but it is currently very “in” right now, due to the success of the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins- the same way that books about supernatural creatures showed up everywhere after Twilight by Stephanie Meyers. Dystopia is the opposite of utopia. In Utopian novels, it appears that the world has reached social and political peace. In Dystopian novels, society is overrun by lack of morals, corruption in government, poverty, disease, etc. I love reading Dystopian novels because they often have themes of sacrifice for the greater good and say something deep and scary about human nature when we see how very far we could fall. These are our top five Dystopian novels.

1. The Hunger Game by Suzanne Collins: This has to go on our list as the series that renewed interest in Dystopian novels. Plus, it’s an amazing series! As if you didn’t already know, the title refers to the annual games where each “district” has to send a boy and girl tribute to fight other tributes to the death until only one is left. I love that the main character, Katniss, is admirable, yet she is obviously hardened by her circumstances. She was realistic for someone growing up in her environment. I also love all the plot twists in the series and how you are the edge of your seat the entire time. Finally, I was challenged by the difficult choices the characters have to make and believe the books have a seriously important message that current and future generations need to pay attention to.

 

2. Matched by Allie Condie: This world is based on predictions and statistics. People’s big and small decisions are governed by society, including being matched to a future spouse in a matching ceremony. Cassia has never questioned this until one boy’s name flashes up on screen before her “true” match is revealed. Cassia finds herself falling for the first boy, though she is supposed to marry the second and begins to question whether or not society can make the right choices for her. This book was great! The romance didn’t draw me in, as much as the totalitarian government did. This is definitely one of the most believable worlds in the dystopian genre in my opinion. I am fascinated by the idea of a society that makes all the choices for someone, particularly when it comes to something as illogical as love.

3. Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch: Okay, I haven’t read this one yet, but don’t be so hard on me, it only came out July 1. The good news is that my co-blogger Lindsey has read the book and loved it. You can find her full review here. For the short synopsis, this book combines a bit of sci fi with moral dilemmas of the Dystopian world. The government has allowed genetically engineered humans to be sold as pets and Ella, the main character, is bought by a congressman to be a companion to his daughter. She finds herself falling for the son, which is highly forbidden. Ella is then kidnapped, which opens her eyes to a world she never before knew. I am so eager to read this book because it deals with the issue of defining a human being. In our ever-changing world of technology and advanced science, questions of morality are often raised and I suspect the issue of what makes someone valuable or what makes someone defined as a human being will only continue to be a debate. Plus, the author has been communicating with us on Twitter and she is so incredibly nice, it makes me want to read her book even more!

4. The Selection by Kiera Cass: This book is definitely an atypical Dystopian novel. While it does take place in the future, it sometimes feels like it’s taking place in the past, with a caste system and a system of royalty. This book was like the Bible Book of Esther mixed with The Bachelor reality show added to a pinch of Dystopian. Prince Maxon is now of eligible marrying age and this means that 35 girls are selected from the “commoners” for the chance to come to the palace and win his heart. Only one can marry him, become the queen, and automatically move up in the caste system. America Singer is selected but she is different from the other girls in that she isn’t sure if she wants to be there, having broken up with a secret lover recently. Because of this, she develops an unlikely friendship with Prince Maxon. Will it turn into more? I’ve only read the first book, so I honestly don’t know! I plan to finish the series ASAP, though!

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth: In this Dystopian novel, society is divided into five different factions based on a personality trait. When Beatrice takes the test to find out which faction she fits with, she discovers she is divergent, which means she doesn’t fit into just one faction. She is told this is very dangerous and she must keep this fact hidden, though she doesn’t know why. She chooses the “fearless” faction and is put through extreme physical and psychological training where she meets a boy who both frustrates and intrigues her. Meanwhile, the peace and stability of society is threatened when two factions turn against each other and Beatrice unwittingly becomes involved. Although I was not in love with the original idea of their society (divided into character traits just seemed un-creative), the story did draw me in. I liked the suspense and wondered what was going on behind the scenes with the government. It also brought up interesting moral issues as well.

 

***The photos above are from Amazon.com. I do not get paid by authors or publishers for my reviews- they are 100% my personal, honest opinion! I do, however, receive a small commission when you purchase a book through Amazon by clicking one of the links above. This does not impact the authenticity of my reviews in any way.***

 

 

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Perfected Review

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!)

Pages: 304

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!

***The photo above is from Amazon.com. I do not get paid by authors or publishers for my reviews- they are 100% my personal, honest opinion! I do, however, receive a small commission when you purchase a book through Amazon by clicking one of the links above. This does not impact the authenticity of my reviews in any way.***

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