Sunday, March 2, 2014
by Ellen Hopkins
Four out of five stars
Reviewed by Sesana
Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there.
Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never understand.
Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect?
Maybe the first thing I should note about Perfect is that even though it's a sequel to Impulse, you wouldn't have to have actually read Impulse to be able to follow the action. Basically, the action in this book is happening at the same time as the action in Impulse, tied because one of the characters in Perfect (Cara) is the sister of one of the characters in Impulse (Conner). The crossovers are few and far between, and there's enough background here to understand what happened there. That's lucky, in some ways, because I didn't like Impulse, and this was a big improvement for me. I do think that Hopkins's writing has steadily improved over the course of her career, a little better with each book. The thread that tied all of these stories together is a little thinner than in some of her other books, but certainly closer than in Tilt. The one thing all four of her viewpoint characters have in common is that they're being pressured to be perfect, by their parents, by themselves, or both. We have two guys and two girls, Cara, Sean, Kendra, and Andre.
I wasn't surprised to find myself most riveted by Cara and Kendra. Cara is the one that I have the most hope for. Watching her break out of the shell her parents (especially her mother) have built for her was really nice to see, and I liked her romance with Dani. Kendra's story was sort of like watching a car crash in slow motion. And I think the worst of it was that the crash isn't over at the end of the book. Kendra hasn't entirely faced that she has an eating disorder, and neither has her family. And she hasn't yet realized that her new agent is taking advantage of her. I wish at least some of this had happened in the book, even if the dust hadn't entirely settled. I just hated putting the book down with Kendra still where she was. Cara isn't optimistic about her future, and neither am I, but I still would have liked to have a better idea.
Sean's narration could be tough to read, because we're watching him on a serious downward spiral. He's also the one character that I just couldn't connect with at all. He seemed toxic at the beginning, and I have no faith that he'll be any less toxic in the future. Andre, though... Well, I liked him, and I could understand him. But his story was less about him and more about his relationship with Jenna, Kendra's self-destructive sister. And I didn't at all enjoy watching Jenna implode. Still, I can't really complain about their voices, or the believability of their stories. I just didn't really care for following them.
This isn't the best thing that Hopkins has ever put out. But it is an improvement over Impulse, and it's a good sequel to that book. I get the feeling that there could be yet another book in this series, and I don't know how I feel about that. Maybe if Hopkins would stick to fewer viewpoints, it would be easier for her to finish out a story in one book.