***I received this book in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley and Entangled Teen.
“I thought that freedom and happiness would be indistinguishable, but now I didn’t know. Maybe freedom wasn’t a state of being. Maybe it was an act of courage. Maybe freedom was definace and sacrifice and pain, something that couldn’t be won without giving up something else in return.”
“I reached out for him in the dark, desperate to feel him, as if his presence could keep me from being swept away. My touch was like a lit match, igniting him. He pulled me to his cheat, just as frantic to hold me as I was to hold him.”
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 full 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…if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate worse than death.
For fans of Kiera Cass’ Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden trilogy, Perfected is a chilling look at what is means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous-and dangerous-bow.
Ella has known nothing but the inside of the Greenwich Kennels her whole life. She’s been primped and pruned, genetically designed to not only be pleasing to look at but to acquiesce to her future master’s every desire. Ella has been taught poise, etiquette, talents to impress and most importantly how to be the perfect pet. Ella has wanted for nothing and she’s never known what it means to yearn because she never knew that anything like free will was a possibility. Her life, her every action caters to the wants of others.
When Ella is purchased by a very eager congressman, she’s comforted by the knowledge that the girls at Greenwich are not pets for just anyone, they’re elite, the toys of the top 1% of upper class society and this means that nothing unsavory or bad could ever happen to her.
Ella is content in her new life but she has the sneaking suspicion that not all is as it seems. Ella learns of a previous pet, one that has a supposedly untreatable illness, of people who are against pets who run an underground haven for girls like Ella, and of what happens to pets once they get older.
Ella is not safe, she never was and the harder she fights to be perfect, it seems the more trouble she gets into. Ella knows she must not dream, that she should be grateful for what she has, after all, it’s what she was born for, but her heart has other plans. The congressman’s son, close to Ella’s age and a mystery, seems to call to her, awakening something in her she never knew existed. More than a thirst for companionship, this runs deeper and more fierce. Penn sees her as a person, as something more than an accessory or pretty house decoration to be shown off. To him, Ella is very real and very much alive with her own thoughts and feelings.
But Penn and Ella can never be together. She’s not permitted to love or to disobey, she must do as she’s told and never question. When her life is put on the line, Penn and Ella hatch a plan, one that if it fails would doom them both.
- The premise of this book is just a jaw-dropping shock to the system. The idea that humans, the elite upper class of society would breed people to put on display like show dogs is completely disgusting and utterly unsettling. Perfected is an original, eye-opening story of how morally bankrupt and delusional society can be.
- Kate Jarvik Birch does an amazing job channeling the slimy, creepy gaze of the congressman and the others whose seedy eyes rove Ella’s body, equating her to something less than human, a toy to be played with and who would be a source of amusement, regardless of her feelings. She’s someone they can use and abuse, taking advantage of her and her role as a possession is just nauseating. The sense of danger, the perilous and precarious position she’s in is emphasized with every moment that Ella is alone with the congressman and the way he caresses her body, possessive and domineering. It’s despicable and will make your skin crawl.
- Spaying. Horrific. Seriously nightmare-inducing and disturbing; the thought of forced sterilization just because an ‘owner’ doesn’t want to deal with the possible repercussions of their actions. I was appalled and so sick with how easy it was to dismiss Ella’s rights and feelings as a woman.
- Perfected makes you think. So many things that are taken for granted, our ability to choose, to procreate, to love and receive love are just some of the many deep, philosophical questions on morality and humanity that are piqued in this story.
- Ella’s growth is stunning and beautiful to read. As she discovers her feelings and what her heart yearns for it’s breathtaking and almost whimsical, watching someone who had been refused the ability to choose and to feel open her eyes is something profound and incredible to watch. As Ella’s delusions about how life is supposed to be crumble, she comes into her own and realizes that her life shouldn’t belong to anyone but herself. Ella is childlike, sweet, and so insanely innocent. She’s meek and charming and doesn’t know what to do with herself. The struggle she goes through to find the correct response to scenarios she hasn’t been trained for is heartbreaking. So much has been taken from her and as she realizes just how much it’s hard not to feel for her.
- The scenes between Penn and Ella are magical. They’re short and tame but full of longing and their chemistry just glows right off the page. They’re playful and loving, they get each other and sometimes their encounters are embarrassing and awkward yet full of angst.
- Penn is a regular hero. He’s a musician with a big heart and strong sense of morals. He’s calculated, caring, and goes out of his way to make Ella comfortable to open up and become her own person.
- Parts seemed to drag on where nothing really happened. Sitting in the lap of luxury is a dull and tedious lifestyle and much of Ella’s time is just slow-paced and Gatsby-esque.
- There’s not much character development other than with Ella. Many of the others were closed off and something was lacking in interactions and dialogue. Apart from small insights into their overall character, many were one dimensional.
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