four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
56-Jan-Feb-2012
user_rating: 
0

A-PerfectPerfect, the companion novel to Impulse, runs parallel to Conner's story. While Connor is a patient at a psychiatric hospital, Perfect follows his sister and some of their friends back home.

The Story: Four high school seniors will do anything to be perfect. But then Cara, Conner's Stanford-bound sister, starts to rebel against her overbearing parents' unrealistic expectations. Kendra, a Nordic beauty (and Conner's ex-girlfriend), suffers from anorexia to slim down her 5-foot, 10-inch frame to a size 2 so that she can model. Sean, Cara's boyfriend who lives with his aunt and uncle ever since his parents died, takes steroids to improve his baseball performance. And Andre, whose parents wish for him to follow in his wealthy investment-banking family's footsteps, wants to live a life they won't understand. Tied together by their desire to please, these four will go to great lengths to avoid failure--but at what cost?
Margaret K. McElderry Books. 640 pages. $18.99. ISBN: 9781416983248

Wondrous Reads 4.5 of 5 Stars
"I can honestly say that I don't think there will ever be an Ellen Hopkins book I don't love. ... Hopkins once again shows that she doesn't care about censorship of sensitive subjects: she'll tell it how it is, with realism and a candid voice, and hope that her readers will get it and be helped by it." Jenny

VOYA 4.5 of 5 Stars
"It is how Cara, Sean, Kendra, and Andre react that encourages readers' emotional attachments. Her writing conveys teenage quandaires with all of the intended consequences, as the verse style only serves to shock as the events unfold." Alicia Abdul

Five Alarm Book Reviews 4 of 5 Stars
"While Perfect was not my favorite of Ellen Hopkins books, mainly because of the side stories that were distracting and took away from getting to some of the things that I really wanted to hear about, it is still a remarkable and beautifully written book. ... While it may not be for everyone, I have heard time and time again of die hard fans who originally thought that there was no way they would ever like a book that is written in verse." Stephanie

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The connection between the characters isn't so much their interpersonal relationships but their avoidance of failure--the lengths to which they'll go to please people who won't be satisfied no matter what they do. ... How these interwoven, dysfunctional ambitions collide and eventually resolve makes for compelling reading." Susan Carpenter

Critical Summary

Ellen Hopkins's newest book, a stand-alone companion piece to Impulse, tackles many troublesome issues facing teens today: drugs, self-abuse, ambition, eating disorders, sexual discovery, racism, love, and abandonment. Most readers, unfortunately, will find a character or situation to relate to. "What happens when a life is defined by someone else's expectations is the question at the center of Perfect," notes the Los Angeles Times, and these expectations often take tragic turns. If readers can handle the raw themes, there is much to praise--the strong character development, the beautiful, strong verse that reads like a regular novel. The stanzas do not rhyme, so consider the verse as much a layout choice, one that some readers will acclimate to more quickly than others. The only quibble? Too many digressions. The added bonus? Although Conner is still at Aspen Springs during the course of Perfect, readers felt much closer to him as a result.

The Companion Novel

Impulse (2008): Three troubled teens cross paths at Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted suicide: Vanessa, smart, beautiful, and a cutter; Toby, suffering from sexual abuse and time in a juvenile home; and Conner, rebelling against his perfectionist parents. Together, they hope to find a better life.