Tuesday 14 October 2014


Book review: The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard

My edition: paperback, published on 2 October 2014 by Hot Key Books, 267 pages.

Description: In Beacon Heights High, Nolan Hotchkiss is king. His charm, wealth and good looks are deceptively seductive, and many are the students whose lives and reputations have been ruined by it. All while Nolan continues to reign, unquestioned and undisrupted. Until now, that is.

Mackenzie, Ava, Julie, Caitlin and Parker seemingly don't have much in common. Each has their own friends, dramas and goals. But one thing they do share: they all have a deep hatred of Nolan Hotchkiss. And they all think it's about time he paid for what he's done. They come up with the perfect murder - a hypothetical murder, of course. It's all wishful thinking ... until they wake up one morning to find that their wish has come true. Nolan has been killed - in exactly the way they planned. The thing is, they didn't do it. So who did?


The Perfectionists follows the same winning formula author Sara Shepard uses for her extremely popular Pretty Little Liars series; a group of girls who couldn't be more different are thrown together over a common secret and murder and mayhem ensues. Despite the similar set-up, the story is vastly different because for once the leading ladies are not the rich and glamorous ruling their school, which was the case for both Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game, but a group of girls that each carry a load of baggage with them; soccer-obsessed Caitlin, music prodigy Mackenzie, beautiful Ava, the emotionally and physically scarred Parker and her best friend Julie, a popular girl who isn't quite what she seems.

The story opens with the five girls meeting up in secret at a party thrown for their high school's all-star popular guy Nolan Hotchkiss. Each one of them has been hurt by Nolan in one way or another and the girls are out for revenge. But while their plan was to give Nolan only a little taste of what he's done to them, when he is found dead after the party all evidence points to the five girls. And soon Caitlin, Ava, Julie, Parker and Mac are forced to become closer than ever so they can find out what has truly happened to Nolan and who is the killer. But what they don't realise as they are digging up dirt on their fellow Beacon Heights High students and even teachers, is that they are putting themselves in mortal danger as well...

I don't know how Sara Shepard does it, but she manages to write several of her hugely addictive young adult mystery novels each year. I've devoured all of the Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game books and while the former should've run its course years ago and I don't find the stories quite as interesting as I used to, I cannot stop reading each new book soon after its release. Shepard has a flair for creating great characters the reader can identify with and placing them in gripping plots that are filled to the brim with outrageous secrets, murders and crazy twists, and with The Perfectionists she's got another winning series on her hand.

Shepard's expertise in the genre is showing as the characters in her latest work are more diverse and interesting than in her previous YA novels. It's clear that each of the five main girls has a lot of backstory that is yet to be uncovered, providing plenty of interesting storyline strands for the wealth of sequels that are undoubtedly to come over the new few years. The book also felt more mature and thought-out; for once several of the plot twists caught me by surprise and they were exceptionally well planned, with definite hints to the mysteries of the great Agatha Christie referenced throughout.

My only complaint, though that word is a bit harsh, I have about this book is that it's clearly set up as a first in a much longer series. This means that it merely serves as an introduction to the characters and storylines and few answers are given to any of the questions that arrive in this first installment. It's a great way of pulling the reader in and ensuring that they'll want to pick up the next novel as soon as it's published, but personally I would've liked to have been rewarded with a sneak peek to some of the answers, rather than being left dangling with a blatant open ending. Still, I have come to expect it from Shepard's novels and other than that I thought this was a strong start to what surely will be a very successful new venture for the Pretty Little Liars-author.

You can purchase the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk or your own preferred retailer.

Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:

Website: www.saracshepard.com

Twitter: @sarabooks

Many thanks to Hot Key Books for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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