Review: The Perfectionists

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The Perfectionists
The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3 stars to Sara Shepard‘s The Perfectionists. A few things to say on how I chose this book before I get into a review of it:

Earlier this year, I found myself with some free time and an interest in watching Pretty Little Liars. I had seen several commercials and thought that despite it sounding like it was more for a young adult crowd, I would give it a chance. I love suspense, intrigue and drama when I read or watch a movie or TV. I finished the first season in a week and was hooked — who was “A” and when would we find out? Since I’m practically a “read-the-last-page-of-a-book kinda guy,” I immediately searched for spoilers all over the internet which is when I learned it was actually based off of series of books. (Note, I want to know spoilers of what will happen — not the whole ending — as I still want to feel suspense). I continued my research and finished the whole series within the month. Unfortunately, once I see a movie or TV show that is a remake of a book, I find it hard to read the book without already having a certain perception of the characters and story. Given this one was over ten books, I wasn’t going to sink into reading them but if it’s a really good story, sometimes I can still read a single book afterwards. And that’s when I saw that Sara Shepard had another book series called “The Perfectionists” that was being optioned as a potential new TV series. BOOM! I could read the books first this time. And so, I put it on my list and it arrived last week which is how I chose to read The Perfectionists…

I gave 3 stars because while the story is good, it’s a bit of a let-down from Pretty Little Liars and it also seems to be very similar to Pretty Little Liars. Change the lies, change the cast, change the setting and you’ve got a new story… well, it had its strengths but it also had some weaknesses. I’ll definitely read the second book (even tho I accidentally read who I think is the killer on someone’s review) to see how it all plays out. It’s definitely more of a young adult book than other YA books I have read but it is still a fun read — took me about 3 to 4 hours to finish yesterday.


Story

Five (5) 17 year old girls who are not quite friends (just go to the same school together) are doing a review in their film class of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None. ” Challenged to determine whether a killer is justified in killing and/or whether someone deserves to die, the 5 stumble upon a connection in that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss for various reasons. They agree on how they’d kill him (all in good fun) since they believe sometimes murder is an acceptable solution — and then go on with their lives. It was afterall just a fun conversation except that it seems someone must have overheard their plans…

At some point, they have an opportunity to get revenge on Nolan at his house party and use part of their plan to pull a prank on him — not to kill him. The next morning after the party where they attempt the prank, they learn he has died from a possible overdose. The girls feel bad but they didn’t actually do anything except slip him 1 pill. And then a few days later, they learn he died in the exact way they had theorized – murder by cyanide poisoning. Fear strikes each of the girls as they already had their own issues to deal with between past accidents, cheating boyfriends, college plans, falling in love, shady teachers/therapists and bad parents.

Book 1 walks you through all of the major players, their immediate families and friends setting up a long list of possible suspects. By the end, there’s a second death and several of the girls are people of interest to the local police. Book 1 ends with the girls realizing the person they all thought was the killer couldn’t be and now they are back at square 1 — only this time they are clearly number 1 on the police hit list.


Strengths

1. Large cast with varied characters and families. Each of the girls have their own troubles to deal with: sick mother, twisted father, 2 gay moms, overly strict parents, step-parents, etc. Each has a boyfriend of sorts who is either cheating or being cheated on… helps you flush out who they all are.

2. Suspense is good. Each chapter ends with a good conflict or question. You want to keep reading and it’s hard to just put it down for a while.


Weaknesses

1. Writing is too easy. It’s YA, but I think it’s a bit too fluffy and could be stronger.

2. Too similar to Pretty Little Liars without the fear factor. It’s suspenseful, but I like when a killer taunts you… so far, the killer and the 5 girls have had no interaction whatsoever.


Final Thoughts

I like Sara Shepard’s style and approach. She crafts good stories and characters. She knows how to entice her audience. She has a lot of books so it may get difficult to keep up the intrigue and mystery which I can see happening in this story. But it’s still a good quick read with fun and drama — something we all like to see in our stories!
View all my reviews

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