(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
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.
For fans of Keira Cass’s Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
This is another book where I honestly don’t know where to start because there are so many things wrong with it. I’ll try my best, though.
Okay, so the premise of Perfected is that genetically perfect humans are being engineered and sold as pets. This is not quite stupid but so ridiculous my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I realized that Kate Jarvik Birch was tone-deaf about things like politics or social movements. I would have believed this premise had she actually done some decent world-building instead of just setting this in what seems to be the present. There’s a lot of problems with setting it in the present but I’ll start with the main one: the American people would never again accept slavery.
Yes, there is illegal slavery all around the globe, even in the United States. But for it to be ingrained into the legal system as actual legislation when the government can’t even pass the simplest bill right now? That’s ridiculous. It would be political suicide in this current culture to even mention something that might possibly be resembling slavery, let alone outright slavery of human beings. No one can even agree on genetically modified food, for crying out loud! How do you think making designer babies would go over in the next five years? And for them to be made into slaves? Yeah, right.
Like I said, I would have been more lenient with the premise of the books had the author done her work and did some real world-building. I could have understood maybe slavery coming about after some catastrophic events that reshaped the American social and political environments forever. Something like a world war, perhaps. At least then it would have an aura of possibility. But as it is, saying that the legislation got passed simply because of corporate donations and pressure is so simplistic it’s insulting to the readers. I’m Canadian and I understand that it’s not that simple in American politics, even with outrageous amounts of money.
It doesn’t take a cynical reader like me to realize that young, beautiful girls being bought by wealthy old men is a recipe for sexual slavery. It’s alluded to in the novel and is revealed as the reason Ella’s predecessor was removed from the home but it’s never really explored or even presented realistically. The fact that Ella doesn’t even know what kissing is beggars belief when these girls are trained to go into the homes of wealthy men. Add that to the fact they’re sold into prostitution when they’re no longer cute and you have to wonder why the ‘breeders’ (the people who create these girls) don’t have them spayed (their word, not mine) in the first place or at least teach them basic sex ed. Yes, I know they’re kept naïve and innocent but some things are just too unrealistic.
Okay, even if I ignored all of the things wrong with Kate Jarvik Birch’s premise and world-building I still wouldn’t be a huge fan of this book. Ella has been bred and taught to be compliant so she makes a ridiculously boring narrator. She’s not interesting and not even really that sympathetic. Penn, just don’t get me started on him. One minute he hates the sight of Ella the next he’s got his tongue in her mouth. Ugh. I really, really, really hate Insta-Love.
The plot is moderately paced but there are absolutely no surprises. Of course the previous girl got pregnant with the Congressman’s child and was killed. That’s why his wife was so opposed to getting a new ‘pet’. Of course Penn and Ella try to escape and claim refugee status at the Canadian border. There were no real twists or turns to the plot and I don’t think you have to be a cynical reader like I am to figure out what’s going to happen in the end. Mind you, it ends on sort of a cliffhanger so they can make a franchise out of this if it does indeed become the new Chemical Garden series or The Selection.
Don’t be fooled by pretty covers, folks. It’s not worth it.
I give this book 1/5 stars.