Book Review: Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch

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Title: Tarnished
Series: Perfected #2

Author: Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult

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Perfected

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TarnishedTarnished
Perfected #2
Kate Jarvik Birch
Entangled Teen, December 2015
ISBN 978-1-63375-127-9
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Freedom comes at a cost…

Ella was genetically engineered to be the perfect pet-graceful, demure…and kept. In a daring move, she escaped her captivity and took refuge in Canada. But while she can think and act as she pleases, the life of a liberated pet is just as confining as the Congressman’s gilded cage. Her escape triggered a backlash, and now no one’s safe, least of all the other pets. But she’s trapped, unable to get back to Penn-the boy she loves-or help the girls who need her.

Back in the United States, pets are turning up dead. With help from a very unexpected source, Ella slips deep into the dangerous black market, posing as a tarnished pet available to buy or sell. If she’s lucky, she’ll be able to rescue Penn and expose the truth about the breeding program. If she fails, Ella will pay not only with her life, but the lives of everyone she’s tried to save…

The tale takes up shortly after where it left off in Perfected and this is definitely one of those series where you need to read the books in order because you just won’t get the full impact of Tarnished if you haven’t read Perfected. Although worldbuilding was in somewhat short supply in the first book, the premise of the story was so unique that my attention was riveted all the way through. That intensity was what I hoped to find in this second book and I did, just in a different way.

The idea of humans being bred as pets is appalling, of course, but when Ella teams up, reluctantly, with Missy to get across the Canadian border back into the United States they hope to do something to bring attention to the plight of these girls, especially now that rumors of deaths are rising. Ella also is determined to get back to Penn, the boy she loves who also happens to be the son of her owner. Ella’s and Missy’s journey and what they discover is horrifying but the big question is how are they going to expose the nightmare to the world now that legislation has been passed making ownership of these pets legal?

Ella is nearly as naive in this book as she was in the first and that was a little disappointing. It was completely understandable when we first met her, considering how she came to be, but I expected more growth from her now that she has experienced so much and had the benefit of some covert education from Penn. Still, she’s a quick learner and, by the end of Tarnished, she matures quite a bit. Penn, on the other hand, is a little flat and the overwhelming love between the two isn’t quite believable but that’s neither here nor there and didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the story at all.

Missy is my favorite character this time; she’s damaged, certainly, but she’s also very cognizant of the realities of life and not afraid to meet them head on. Under the tough exterior, Missy is passionate and caring and altogether a young woman I liked very much. I hope to see much  more of her in the next book and I’m just sorry I have to wait for it. Write faster, please, Ms. Birch!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, December 2015.

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 www.katejarvikbirch.com

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