Saturday, 3 January 2015

Review: The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

Title: The Perfectionists
Series: The Perfectionists #1
Author: Sara Shepard
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: October 7th, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, High School, Murder, Mystery, Suspense

The Perfectionists (The Perfectionists, #1)

In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke...until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them.

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes another story of dark secrets, shocking twists, and what happens when five beautiful girls will do anything to hide the ugly truth.

The premise of The Perfectionists had me instantly intrigued. Five girls plan the hypothetical murder of a guy they all hate, and he turns up dead in exactly the way they'd planned, only they didn't do it. That's exactly my cup of tea.

I went into this book with rather mixed emotions. I was excited to see how it would play out, but also quite nervous since I really didn't enjoy how cliché the Pretty Little Liars books were and had heard how similar this book was. With that being said, I was quite pleasantly surprised with the story and thoroughly enjoyed it, despite my numerous issues with it.

The book features Parker, Julie, Caitlin, Ava and Mac who have all fallen victim to Nolan Hotchkiss' shenanigans and all secretly (some not-so-secretly) have a vendetta against him. I'm all for books with lots of female characters (GIRL POWER!) and each of these girls had a fairly distinct personality and storyline. They were all rather likeable and while I did sympathise with the majority of them, I feel like the characters lacked a certain depth that would have allowed me to properly connect with them. One thing I did notice though, is that alike Pretty Little Liars we are given five girls that fall into the stereotypical scenarios such as: a sporty one, one that may or may not have a thing for a teacher, the one with issues at home, the one who has a thing for her bestfriend's boyfriend.

My issue with having such a large number of sixteen year old female characters is that it was at times very difficult to distinguish between them. For the first three quarters of the book I had no idea who was who and I struggled to put faces to names.

The stand-out character for me was definitely Parker. Parker used to be the 'popular' girl, pretty and perfect until some horrific incident left her with horrid facial scars, forcing her to wear a hoodie all the time and fall victim to terrible headaches. I was most fascinated and eager to learn more about her, her past and what exactly the headaches mean. Shepard didn't leave us with much information on her, but she built suspense so well that I am sure she has something big coming in the next book.

One thing I disliked about this book was the character of Ava - not her, but the air about her. Ava is a gorgeous girl who we are told is also very smart. Throughout the entire book she tries to prove her intelligence but is shot down by her own stupid decisions. I don't enjoy being told a character is smart and not being shown it, if they truly are then their actions should prove it.

Most of my issues with this book, stemmed from the usual hallmarks of Shepard's novels. It follows the same formula as her Pretty Little Liars series: a bunch of teenage girls are brought together by some unknown driving force who tries to frame them for something and is essentially a shit-stirrer, and they try to solve it all on their own by breaking into places because the cops don't believe them and they can't tell their parents. Best friends stab each others backs, snotty rich kids rule the school, all the adults are incredibly insensitive, the cops are lazy douchecanoes and we even get a creepy male authority figure (SCORE!). Doesn't this all sound a little familiar? Also, let's not forget how almost all of the adults are absent or incompetent.

I was able to appreciate the diversity in the book though, it's not too often that we get a middle eastern/Israeli main character and it was definitely great to read such a female driven book.
Shepard doesn't shy away from more meaningful topics either, it touched upon issues such as bullying, social class differences, and burgeoning teenage sexuality, not necessarily in-depth but enough that the book wasn't overly picture-perfect.

The plot of the story was decent, that's really all I can say about it. There weren't too many earth-shattering plot twists and it was mostly 'meh' for me. I was hooked though, and I don't fully understand why. I think that alike the Pretty Little Liars TV show, the only thing driving me to continue was to find out who the heck was responsible and how the heck they pulled it off. The plot lagged was quite fast-paced in the beginning but sadly lagged for the majority of the middle before picking up again in the last forty or so pages.

The ending was incredibly abrupt and a HUGE cliff-hanger. We get very little information and essentially no insight to who was responsible and how they did it. Not to mention that surprise betrayal! Yikes. That one really threw me off. I did not see that coming at all. My only other qualm is that I felt like this book was far too much longer than it needed to be - I felt like most of what happened could have been condensed into ten chapters as opposed to thirty-six.

Overall The Perfectionists was exactly what I needed to pull me out of my reading slump - quick, entertaining, and fairly-fast paced. It kept me in suspense and was a great teenage drama with tiny hints of murder/mystery without being too heavy. It shares huge similarities with Shepard's previous novels and is in the same vein as both Pretty Little Liars and the Lying Game, but with its own tricky twists. I'm very intrigued to see what happens next and will most likely be picking up the sequel - Good Girls - when it comes out in June of this year.

3.5/5 keys to my heart!


  1. I've signed up, just got to get my post up on it now. This is such a cool idea, I'M SO EXCITED!

  2. See this is the type of book that I would go to if I wanted out of a slump. It's not what I'm really looking for now though, just because I feel like I've had enough of Shepard, what with watching PLL (because I can't be bothered anymore with reading LOL) and having read The Lying Game. It's too much for me. Plus the cliffhanger would kill me. I'm glad you enjoyed it though. Fantastic review, dear! <3 x

  3. I totally agree with you. I watch PLL and have read the first Lying Game book and if there's one thing that Shepard does across all her stories it's stereotypes. Also, making them drag on for much longer than they should. Thanks for all the kind words as always! x

  4. Fantastic! Thanks for joining in and I'm so glad you're excited. I hope you enjoy the challenge! x

  5. I signed up! I found your blog through Paper Fury, and it looks really fun. Will now be stalking your archives. :P

  6. Yay! Thanks for joining in on the fun! I hope you enjoy it! :)

  7. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. A little intimidated by the sheer size but I am determined to get as many squares crossed off as possible. BUT YES, READING BINGO CARDS ARE MY FAVOURITE. You don't know how long I'e been waiting for a 2015 bingo reading challenge. YOU ARE MY FAVOURITE.

    Also I am loving the design of the card. It's soooo cute!

  8. Thanks for joining in on the fun! I hope you enjoy it. :) Don't be intimidated by the size of it! I've made it so that one book can complete up to three challenges at once. If you're strategic about it and plan ahead you can apply them to things already on your TBR. I've done it myself and I only have to read about 31 books to complete the entire challenge!

    Thanks for all the kind words! Happy reading!

  9. I'M IN I'M SO IN!! THIS IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN!!!!! *clappy hands*
    My best friend and I did a bookish bingo card last year for fun, and we had this bet that the loser had to read any book or series that the winner wanted her to read! I WON *skips in glee* and made my poor little bestie read the whole Twilight series, mwahahahaha! ;) She still hasn't forgiven me, hehe. ;) I have high hopes of racing through this bingo card, although some of the squares look a little tricky! I'll write up a post on the blog soonish.:)

    Thanks for coming up with such a fabulous challenge, Maddie! <33

  10. YAY! Hahahha I'm glad you won the last one but I feel so sorry for your poor friend! A little bit of advice: Plan out the books for each challenge in advance because if you're strategic about it you can triple some up, that way it's quicker. :)

  11. I didn't like Pretty Little Liars (the tv show). I only watched 2 episodes and I was very disappointed. But this book sounds amazing!

  12. I can definitely understand where you're coming from, I myself can see the many flaws in it. Personally, I do watch it but mostly because I want to find out who the heck is behind all of it. But other than that, and my love for some of the characters, I admit it isn't exactly the best. The Perfectionists has its similarities to PLL but I think it's a little bit more enjoyable! :)

  13. Jacqueline Cho20 July 2015 at 07:41

    Hello! I was wondering how you got the key rating system on the bottom of your book review. I've recently started my own book blog, and wanted something similar



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