Not Quite Perfected

Just finished reading Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch and it’s solidifying my belief that if I want to be published I most certainly will be, but I hope that I will be held to a higher standard of literature.

Perfected is about a teenage girl, Ella, who has been bred (yes, bred) to be the perfect pet, like a damn purebred puppy. She has been trained at the Greenwich Kennels to be a docile, subservient, loyal, and perfectly behaved plaything. Her masters bid on her at an auction and are one of just a few lucky Elites to take home their prized delicate possession.

Ella is bred to be a pet and she is completely content with this terminology and finds purpose in doing whatever she must to see her owners are happy, no regards for her own well-being. I chalk this up to her gross psychological damage but find it odd that she is okay with being labeled as a pet yet in the very beginning of the story, someone compares her to a dog and Ella is upset and feels degraded.

Conceptually, the idea intrigued me when I first saw the cover but the problem is that there is zero explanation for any of the weird, creepiness of it all.  It is novels such as this where I wish I could have an open conversation with the author and find out what they were trying to accomplish because unfortunately, this book falls flat.

There are moments when it seemed almost as if Birch was trying to connect her story to slavery with elements of the Underground Railroad or women’s rights as the only pets one could possess were young, beautiful females. And this is quite possibly me just grasping at straws to give this book some sense of purpose because as it stands, there doesn’t seem much direction.

It is also interesting to examine which characters seem to accept Ella and which reject this whole idea of human pets. The older kids in the family obviously struggle with it so historically for the novel, it must be relatively new. When you examine the youngest child, recently turned ten-years-old, she is completely welcoming to having a pet and even suggests taking Ella for a walk ON A LEASH!! Ridiculous…

The story alludes to a previous pet that had to returned because it was sick. (We are talking about a human here!) And though Birch stays PG in her writing, this is where we also see hints of sexual slavery with “pets” and jealousy. So much to the point that spaying is discussed!!

And we haven’t even begun to discuss Ella falling in love with her master’s son, Penn. Which if we continue down this path of comparing Ella to a family animal we are taking it a little far with “man’s best friend.” (It’s okay to laugh. haha) His father is jealous and doesn’t want to share, that is his most prized possession after all. But this does lead us to the most excitement of the story as Penn and Ella steal away in the middle of the night to seek asylum in Canada. Yes. Canada.

I know at this point I am rambling but I haven’t been this fired up over a novel in quite some time. I am completely okay reading uncomfortable subjects which I definitely feel Perfected fits the bill but it needs more context. The only real drama of the story was about 15 pages of a book over 250 pages long. There is a cliff-hanger and a sequel. I’m not sure after this story if I can bring myself to read it. There is a difference between “OMG I have to know what happens next” and “I have to read the sequel because I literally have zero idea what the hell I just read….why?”

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