Book Review: Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch

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Title: Perfected
Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: 07/01/14



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Kate Jarvik Birch
Entangled Teen, July 2014
ISBN 978-1-62266-268-5

From the publisher—

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.

For fans of Keira Cass’s Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.

Sometimes you come across a book whose theme stops you in your tracks. Perfected is just such a book. We’ve seen many interpretations of humans controlling and manipulating other humans, usually young girls, but breeding them to be pets is something else entirely. Most of us love animals and think of our pets as part of the family but what if some of those pets were actually human?

So much about Ella’s world is so wrong from the day these girls are born (and isn’t it telling that they’re apparently all girls?). To be born into a kennel and raised in caged conditions before going into training is horrendous but the actual training is worse. Only the education that’s necessary to make them docile and beautiful and appealing is offered; no thought is given to teaching them to read or to giving them more than the most rudimentary knowledge of life. They are, indeed, viewed as nothing more than dogs or cats or whatever we might keep as pets.

Ella is a striking character with her naivete and her fear of displeasing her owner and her dismay as she learns what she doesn’t know, like how to swim or how to read. Her curiosity is somewhat limited, though, and I think that might be the most telling thing about her, giving us insight into how being under other people’s control for so long can damage the natural curiosity we all have.  Her developing relationship with Penn, a truly nice guy, is unforced and quite believable and what he’s willing to do for Ella makes him a real hero in my eyes. As for the rest of the family, they’re all so well-drawn, likeable or not, that they seem very real. The congressman, of course, makes a truly unpleasant villain, especially since he sees nothing wrong with keeping people in luxurious slavery.

Ms. Birch does a really nice job of depicting the world of pets with humans substituted and, in all honesty, there are shades of questioning the validity of our keeping pets at all as well as very subtle comparisons to slavery. Really, my only quibbles with the story have to do with worldbuilding because there is almost none. We don’t know when this takes place although there are many hints that it’s intended to be the very near future as there are still television, normal cars, gas stations, border patrols, etc.  We also don’t know how it came about that Congress could possibly pass such legislation, no real evidence of what the government is like. I’d like to know so much more to get the full effect of the story.

Now, about the ending…I honestly don’t know whether it was intended to be a humdinger of a cliffhanger that will be resolved in future books or simply an invitation for readers to use their own imaginations about what will happen next. Either is acceptable to me but I’m selfishly hoping there are going to be more books 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2014.

About the Author


Kate Jarvik BirchKate Jarvik Birch is a visual artist, author, playwright, daydreamer, and professional procrastinator. As a child, she wanted to grow up to be either a unicorn or mermaid. Luckily, being a writer turned out to be just as magical. Her essays and short stories have been published in literary journals including Indiana Review and Saint Ann’s Review. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and three kids. To learn more visit


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Book Blitz: Against the Darkness by A.M. Griffin

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Title: Against the Darkness
Author: A.M. Griffin
Series: Cimmerian Moon #1
Release Date: 06/04/14
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction



This one time, at band camp…aliens invaded earth. Sounds like a bad
riff on an old joke, doesn’t it? Unfortunately for me and my friends, it’s all
too true. I thought a mess like this only happened in the movies but, as I
watch the alien ships hovering over the major cities, I suddenly realize
I’m a thousand miles away from my Mom. From home. From safety.

Darkness may have fallen over the world, but I won’t let it claim me. I’ll do
anything I have to get back to Michigan. Yet nothing could prepare me
for what we find on our trek north from Tallahassee. There’s hardly anything
the aliens haven’t bombed. Survival, at any cost, is the name of the game for
the few people who haven’t been killed or captured. As if trying to stay free
and alive isn’t enough, I think I just met the love of my life. And he’s just the kind
of bad boy who’ll tear down the walls I’ve built around my heart—then break it.



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An Excerpt From Against the Darkness

It shouldn’t be a problem with just seven of us.

“Even so, I hate us being out in the open.”

I nod, affirming what Wade said. “It’ll be perfect.”

“We thought the last place was perfect,” Shayla mumbles.

There were forty people hiding in some woods by a residential area, I want to tell her. That’s not perfect. That was a disaster waiting to happen. I clench my jaw tight to stop myself from pointing out the obvious.

“What about food?” MJ asks. He puts up his empty hands. “When we left, we didn’t have time to get to anything, food or water. We had to leave everything, even our backpacks.”


Wade pulls his pack off his back and rummages through it. “I have a flashlight, four bottles of water, two sleeves of crackers, a lighter and Swiss army knife. Sin,” he says, looking over to me. “What do you have?”

Against the DarknessI don’t have to pull my bag off to recite its contents. “Two bottles of water, one sleeve of crackers, four slices of bread and I have my knife tied to my sweats.”

“Awesome. We’re definitely prepared to head back to Michigan,” Ian says.

“What did you bring?” I ask him, since he’s still being a smartass.

He glares at me before turning the other way.

“Let’s get going. Our circumstance isn’t going to change by just standing here,” Wade says.

We let him lead the way with Mia and I following close on his heels. Shayla and Ms. Burgess are at our backs and MJ and Ian are behind them.

We move silently through what used to be the residential areas. Everyone is on edge, watching out for aliens that could come out from behind trees or what used to be buildings or houses. We also keep peering up, watching for their ships.

Under the cover of night, we go through the few houses that don’t threaten to topple on us. We search for anything that will help us survive. We don’t find any more bottled water, but we are able to find a lot of canned goods and, luckily, an opener. We load what we can carry in three plastic bags. We don’t take so much that the bags will slow us down and only take what is needed.

By the time we get to the lake, its well into the night. We scout out the best possible spot, somewhere with trees thick enough to hide us. Once we find our hide-out, Wade directs us to gather all the wood we can find.

After watching him make a stick shelter that’s only two feet high, we set out to make our own. We each pick spots along the lake, under a tree, and position the openings so that we can see at least two other shelter entrances. We don’t talk about what happened—about how we think everyone else is dead. We hardly talk at all, besides to help each other find sticks and build the hobbit huts that we’ll live in for the next two days.

It’s past ten p.m. before we’re finally done and it’s so dark we can barely make out what’s around us. We’re tired, mentally and physically. There’s nothing left to do but to rest and think about all we’ve lost.

I crawl backward into my shelter. I won’t be able to sit up. I’ll hardly be able to turn around or shift my position. It’s long enough so that I can stretch out. I’m so short that my shelter won’t appear out of place against the bank of the lake. The guys had to make theirs shorter, and have to sleep curled up.

Once I’m fully inside, I glance over to Mia’s shelter. We made ours facing each other. I rest my face on my hands and she does the same, watching me too. I watch her until her eyes finally close for the night. When I’m sure that she’s sleep I roll over onto my side. This position is just as painful as lying on my stomach. Trying to get comfortable on the cold ground with only a few tufts of grass sprinkled in among rocks, dirt and twigs is the least of my worries.

Right about now is when I again start to have my recurring wish for the gift of foresight. But I’m sure everyone in the world has probably wished for the same thing. At least then there could have been some kind of planning. The military could have been ready for the aliens’ arrival and mounted an attack. Not only that, but the government could have organized some kind of evacuation. Although I don’t know to where exactly.

How do you evacuate an entire country?

At any rate, the gift of foresight would have helped us all. Maybe, with it, my mother wouldn’t have forced me to go on the stupid field trip. I remind myself how I’d begged and begged her not to make me go.

But I bet she regrets it now, especially since I’m almost a thousand miles away from her during the worst possible time.

I know what I’m doing and I try to hold onto the feeling for as long as possible. If I’m mad at her then I won’t miss her as much.

Just as I have that thought, my eyes begin to water. Being mad at her usually doesn’t last very long at all. I can’t make it. For all it’s worth, I know she’s regretting she ever made me go and she’s missing me just as much as I’m missing her.

I sniffle back the trickle of liquid that’s making a trail from my nostril and across my cheek.

Tears fall in fat drops from the corners of my eyes. I’m crying so softly that I doubt anyone can hear it.


About the Author

A.M. GriffinA. M. Griffin is a wife who rarely cooks, mother of three, dog owner (and sometimes dog owned), a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She’s a hard worker whose two favorite outlets are reading and writing. She enjoys reading everything from mystery novels to historical romances and of course fantasy romance. She is a believer in the unbelievable, open to all possibilities from mermaids in our oceans and seas, angels in the skies and intelligent life forms in distant galaxies.

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