As the third book in the series, Perfect picks up where the second book -- Flawless -- left off. Hanna is still struggling with her recurring eating disorder (once conquered, but now picking up speed with the advent of the increasingly disturbing texts and messages from A). Aria revealed too much truth about A, so she is suffering the consequences: her mom kicks her out, her dad moves in with his college-age girlfriend Meredith, and Aria is left to find shelter with her new boyfriend's family. Emily is continuing to struggle with her identity, and losing the trust of her family members quickly. Her popularity at Rosewood Day, on the other hand, seems to be on the rise. Spencer is suddenly the golden child in her family after weeks of trouble with her sister. She is nominated for a Golden Orchid, an award for high school students likened to the Oscars. But she has a secret that would destroy all those good vibes instantly. Who will A torture next? The question definitely isn't "if" but "when."
Reasons I love this series:
- Although their allowances are much bigger than mine was, these girls are very relatable. I feel like I understand their motivations, feelings, and desires. Deep down, they are just teenagers seeking a sense of self and a place in the world.
- Each character is individually defined. Shepard manages to create a whole world full of intricate, vibrant characters who are each unique from the rest. Not many authors can accomplish this feat -- many do single characters with depth, but rarely a bevy of them.
- It's fun to read about all that wealth. I don't have that kind of money, and (barring a lottery win or other miracle) never will. I like to hear about Rock & Republic jeans and Zac Posen dresses, even if I'll never own them -- however, through eBay all things are possible!
- The suspense is killing me -- in a good way (obviously, if I'm still reading). This is key -- leaking the exact right amount of information, but still leaving much a mystery. Shepard hits the right balance between revealing something (subplot points and some of the girls' secrets) and nothing (A's identity, which in the third book readers are no closer to learning than when the series began). This is especially tricky for me, because I hate to wait! Case in point: How I Met Your Mother, which I realized after almost the whole first season was not going to let viewers know which storyline led to children. Perhaps viewers know now -- I don't, because I stopped watching! Shepard is a careful storyteller, and a darn good one.
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