Series: Perfected Series
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Romance
Release Date: 1st July 2014
BLURB from Goodreads
Perfection comes at a price.
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.
I love a great dystopian genre book that has an unusual twist within its society, so I was really anticipating this one. I mean a government that actually breeds young girls to be sold to the highest bidder as some sort of pet? When you sit and think about it, it isn't a scenario that is too impossible to believe in.
I requested, was accepted and downloaded an e-copy of Perfected from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. I had this one on my tablet a while before reading, I was almost saving it to read when I didn't have to rush to have it read and reviewed by a set date. I wanted to read this one slowly and savour every word as I had high hopes for a superior plot and society from this book.
The cover features a rather elaborate and ornate looking cage, certainly eye catchingly beautiful, inside the cage is a luxurious, stunning blue dress. Any one wearing this would be striking and eye catching.
Would the cover encourage me to pick this book up from a book store shelf? Definitely yes! What female wouldn't admire and maybe even covet the striking blue dress hung up within the cage!
I'll begin with explaining the society a little. Those who are high up within society that have every luxury you could imagine now have a new "toy" available to them. The "Toy" has been bred and genetically modified and enhanced to look exquisite, as well as having the characteristics the prospective owners wish for. The government refers to these girls as "companions". The more widely used term for these companions is "pets". Having a "pet" is a sign of wealth, just another status symbol such as a luxury car, or a large house.
The main character whose journey we follow has been bred in the elite Greenwich Kennels, and then gone onto their training academy. Greenwich Kennels are known to breed a superior, better quality companion. Each of their girls are not only beautiful, they all have at least two talents that they can perform for their owners. Greenwich girls are the status symbol to have. Greenwich girls are trained to be meek, demure, docile, subservient, modest, show pieces. Each girl is given a number at the kennels and they keep that number right up until her new owners give her a name they wish to call her. This book follows "number eight" and her journey. We begin at the training centre with the trainer Miss Gellner telling the girls to sit like a flower, which means the girls spine represents the stem of the flower and the flower is the girls head. Each girl is wearing a beautiful pale coloured dress to enhance their own hair and skin colouring. Number eight is in a blue dress, the one we see on the book cover. All the girls are sitting like a flower as instructed by Miss Gellner, and the prospective owners are brought in. For the chance to purchase a companion you must pay to be put in the lottery system. Then when it gets to the day the prospective owners choose their companion, they are given a number for the order in which they will be allowed to choose their companions.
Once chosen the "companions" go off with their buyers with just the clothes they have on and the buyers now own them and are responsible to feed and clothe them.
Number eight is taken home by the Congressman John Kimball and his wife Elise. She soon meets the rest of the family, Penn, the son of John and Elise around the same age as Ella and ten year old Ruby the youngest daughter of the Kimballs. Number Eight is soon given a name, Ella by the younger members of the Kimball family. Ella soon learns that not everyone is happy to have her as a pet. Elise didn't want to risk having another pet in the house as their was some large problem that is not spoken of with their last one. However the Congressman has just been instrumental in getting Bill 467 passed, which has legalised having a pet. Though having a pet is now legal not everyone agrees with the new bill, there is a growing number of people that help pets escape to Canada where having a pet is illegal.
Ella is quite naive and has to adapt to what is expected of her from her new owners. Ella has a small table near the windows in the dining room. She eats meals made from the list the new owners were given that contained "care instructions", whilst the family eat at the large dining table in the room. At this stage Ella is fairly free to move within the house as she wishes. Ella seems to spend most of her time entertaining and playing with Ruby Kimball. Ella has also spent time with the good looking and kind Penn, the son of John and Elise.
The only mar on her totally happiness and her feeling safe is the nagging question of what happened to the previous Kimball pet. Various times throughout the book someone or other is about to reveal what happens but suddenly stops, or the subject is swiftly changed.
The movement that is against keeping "pets" is becoming larger and more organised as time goes on. There are the organised safe houses, those who rescue pets and transport them safely to Canada all for the good of the cause. Then there are the more unscrupulous people who will only help the pets if they are paid to do so.
Ella has an awful experience with the latter when she is rescued against her will. These people that took in Ella were the un-organised type, they just want Ella away from themselves in case the police turn up. Ella is bundled out of their rather grotty home and left to wander the streets. The police find Ella relatively quickly as all Greenwich Kennel girls are fitted with a microchip prior to them being sent up to the training centre. Ella also wears a silver necklace, with pride as Congressman John gave it to her shortly after arrival at his home. The necklace has a circular pendant on it, one side has Ella on it, the other side has the Kimballs address. As a reader I immediately made the connection and irony of the necklace being little more than a "dog tag".
Ella is reprimanded but given the benefit of the doubt when she insists she was taken, that she didn't want to leave. Things settle down again soon until the Kimballs older daughter Claire comes home and sees the possibly budding feelings between Pann and Ella during a whole family including pet visit to the Opera. Claire tries to warn Penn to distance himself from Ella but Penn and Ella continue to spend more time together, much to the Congressman's irritation. As quite simply put Ella is the Congressman's pet. To spend time together Ella and Penn have taken to sneaking about. It isn't clear how long the Congressman has been monitoring the situation but he takes Ella out to the beach one day and makes it crystal clear who she belongs to and that she is not to spend any more time with Penn. Ella naturally panics, she know she feels something strange when she is with Penn and it's a nice feeling. She likes that Penn will hold her hand, teach her to swim etc. Ella also knows she dislike's the tactile way the Congressman is with her, showing her off, as little more than a toy doll to his wealthy friends. Ella makes a momentous decision and gets out of the house and makes her way to the house of one of Ruby's friends. Ruby's friend Jayne has a pet too, though she isn't originally from the Greemwich Kennel, Missy is the only one who can understand exactly how Ella is feeling. Sadly turning to Missy for help is a bad decision as she raises the alarm that Ella has escaped from the Kimball's home and is trying to run away. Jayne's father Craig telephones the Congressman, complaining about Ella turning up at his home. Even when Congressman John arrives to collect Ella, Craig chatters on and on about the things that can be done to re-program and re-train wayward pets, then he begins to discuss the Kimball's previous pet but John ends the conversation briskly and drives Ella back home in silence. Ella is afraid, expecting that she will be returned to the kennels and will be taken through the infamous red door, that badly behaved pets are taken behind. Ella saw quite a few girls be taken through the door but she never saw them come back out at all. When the Congressman returns Ella to her room he grabs her by the hair and threatens her and then says she has forced him to treat her differently now. He then fastens a chain around Ella's wrist that is fastened to a solid unmovable fastening on the wall. The chain is just barely long enough to allow her to use the bathroom attached to her bedroom. This harsher treatment continues even though not all the family agree with it. It forces more than one member of the family to act against the Congressman's wishes, and see's one member of the Kimball family on the run with Ella.
I feel like I have told you a large amount about the book but I really haven't, this book has much more to be revealed and for you to explore. I have tried to keep my information and description's as spoiler free as possible. I think this book is one that raises many questions about the dystopian society it is set in. The plot isn't that far fetched when you really think about it. The book is definitely one that "stays with you" and is one you will want to talk about with others that have read then book, It falls right into the "thought provoking" category.
Naturally I became fond of Ella as it is her story that we are following, her journey as she becomes the Kimball's pet. Ella starts out totally clueless with only the training at Greenwich to refer to. I'd say Ella has a "rose tinted glasses" view on her life so far and her function within the Kimball family. Then she meets Missy, a pet in another household that has seen much more of the world outside her kennels origin. Missy knows what happens after a pets "novelty value" wears off. I absolutely adored Ruby Kimball, the lonely ten year old, that becomes friends with Ella and shows her kindness and respect, probably more than her own father, the actual owner of Ella does. Ella ends up with Ruby a lot, as Ruby doesn't have very many friends, she's a quieter girl, who likes to eat normally, which exasperates her mother who gives the impression throughout the book that she wants Ruby to lose weight and become more popular. Then there's Penn. . .and Elise the congressman's wife. . .I could seriously go on and on about this book at it's characters.
The way Kate Jarvik Birch writes this book, makes you care about the characters. Though the dystopian society in this book has a fairly low opinion of the pets they keep, and treats them as non-humans, Kate Jarvik Birch still manages to encourage the reader to feel empathy for the pet's. The pace of the book is medium to fast. This book felt like a fast read to me and I was really looking forward to my nightly allotted reading time.
So did I enjoy this book? I found this book to be an irresistible read! Would I recommend this book? I would recommend this book without a doubt. I think fans of Amy Ewing's The Lone City Series and Shannon Stoker's The Registry Series will be keen on reading this book, and should take immense pleasure in reading it.
Would I want to read another book in this series? I really hope to read more of this series. The ending of this book left be pining for more. I think there is more to learn about the characters of this book. I believe Ella has not completed her journey yet, and there are many more fascinating characters for us to meet. It would be interesting for some of the newer characters to be against Bill 467 and possibly living in Canada. . .
Would I read other titles written by this author? I intend to do so. I have Deliver Me by Kate Jarvik Birch on my tablet to read soon.
COMING LATER IN 2015
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Romance
Release Date: ? ??? 2015
BLURB from Goodreads
Ella may have escaped to Canada, but now she must navigate the terrifying world of the black market Kennels to find the truth about the breeding program, and free the remaining Pets.
Ella may have escaped to Canada, but she’s hardly free. Stuck in refugee housing for liberated pets, she’s just as trapped as she was at the congressman’s house—only now she has to live without Penn. But she’s determined to get out. And to make matters worse, there are rumors circulating that pets like Ella are turning up dead all over the U.S., not to mention that she might be to blame. When her old acquaintance, Missy, shows up in Canada, the two of them set off together, thrusting them back into the dangerous life they just left behind. Now, they must navigate the seedy world of the black markets to uncover the dark secrets that the Kennels have been hiding, and rescue the boy she loves. But even after she’s reunited with Penn, Ella still faces the near impossible task of overturning the legislation that has imprisoned her. If she’s not successful, she—and her fellow pets—might all end up dead.