Striving for Perfection

The Perfectionists

by Sara Shepard

perfectionistsAge: Young Adult
Series:1 of 2
Contains: Underage drinking, swearing, death/murder, domestic abuse, blackmail, drug use, sexual references, topless selfies, suicide, pedophilia…

The problem, though, was that someone had seen.  Someone knew what they’d done that night, and so much more.
And someone was going to make them pay.

Book-a-likes: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen


I’ve never read Pretty Little Liars or seen the TV show and I have no desire to.  Probably never will.  And, if I’m being honest, when I downloaded this audiobook from the library I didn’t pay attention to the fact that this duology is by the same author.

If I had, I might not have read it.  It’s a real stretch for me to do contemporary.  If you want to know why, just look at all the things this book contains.  I mean, I’ve definitely read worse.  For sure.  But that’s a lot of stuff to pack into one book…

But!  For the most part I did enjoy this one so let’s get into it!

We start with a group of girls, all with reasons to hate the coolest kid in school, Nolan Hotchkiss.  They’ve discussed all the different ways they’d want to get back at him, right up to and including murder, but decided to settle on some drunken-Sharpie revenge.

The only problem?  Nolan ends up dead.  Just how they’d planned on doing it.  And someone knows about it…

Bum, bum, buuuuuuuuuuuuuum!!!!


Now, listening to this one on audio could have been a MUCH bigger challenge if it weren’t for the writing.  There is a large cast of character to keep track of, but Shepard does a great job of dropping tidbits each time we switch characters to remind you who is who.

That said, here’s a cheat sheet!  You know, just in case you need one…

Julie: Seems to have the perfect life, but is hiding a BIG secret about what’s going on at home.  And Nolan knew about it.  We’ll just say that gravely, yelling voice in the background?  NOT the maid….

Parker: Julie’s best friend.  Used to be top of the high school pyramid with Julie until Nolan Hotchkiss meddled in her life.  Now she’s stuck hiding her scarred face behind hoodies and her hair.  What did Nolan do to her?  And what’s going on at home?….

Mackenzie or “Mac”: Cello player.  Once got conned into sending some…inappropriate pictures to Nolan Hotchkiss.  Also somewhat-secretly crushing on her best friend’s guy.

Caitlin: Soccer player.  Adopted.  Two moms.  Has a boyfriend who’s starting to get old fast–especially because he doesn’t want to hear about Caitlin’s brother who committed suicide.  Like, at all.
Oh, and did we mention that Caitlin blames Nolan Hotchkiss for her brother’s death?

Ava: Bi-racial and stuck with a new, hateful stepmother.  The only one that actually dated Nolan Hotchkiss.  Before she broke up with him for cheating.  Which did not stop him from spreading some NASTY rumors about her at school.

So there are the basics, without giving too much away.  Part of the intrigue of this book is finding out the details of what each person has against Nolan.  When I first started the audio I thought I might hate the reader (she’s got a bit of a “little girl” voice going on), but she did a great job of reading the entire book in this sardonic, enticing way that implied she knew all the secrets and was only dragging things out to make the story better for us all.
So good job, Cassandra Morris.

There are things I don’t like in the book, like the film teacher.  Of course.  Look, ladies.  It is NEVER okay for a teacher to invite you to their house alone.  It’s just not.  Don’t go!!!
Also Blake, Mac’s would-be boyfriend?  I don’t care what her best friend did (i.e. know that your friend likes him and kiss him anyway).  It doesn’t make cheating okay, and if dude really wants to date you, he can break up with his girl first.

Also, what’s going on with Julie’s creepy stalker?  That girl’s on a spiral to Nutso-ville.

The story’s good, but I will warn you, it does NOT resolve itself in the first book.  Now, unlike Pretty Little Liars, this one does not drag on and on.  It’s only a duology, so once you read the second book it should wrap things up nicely (I hope).  I’ll read book 2 and let you know, just so you don’t get stuck.  But it’s an interesting mystery so far that promises even more twists and turns coming in the future.  So glad the second one’s already out because no WAY would I be able to keep these characters straight if I had to wait!



–Bronto Incognito

bronto 10a

Also, check out some of my other reviews!!!

naturals                                  matched



2 thoughts on “Striving for Perfection

  1. Pingback: Why I Oughtta…

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