Review: The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard (Jessica's Review)

Title: The Perfectionists (The Perfectionists, #1)
Author: Sara Shepard
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Hardcover, 336 Pages
Published October 2014
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Summary: In Beacon Heights, Washington, five girls—Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker—know that you don’t have to be good to be perfect. At first the girls think they have nothing in common, until they realize that they all hate Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done terrible things to each of them. They come up with the perfect way to kill him—a hypothetical murder, of course. It’s just a joke...until Nolan turns up dead, in exactly the way they planned. Only, they didn’t do it. And unless they find the real killer, their perfect lives will come crashing down around them. 
At first, I was reaaaally excited for this book. I had just finished the final book in the Pretty Little Liars series and was having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that the series was finally over. However, I was ready to start with something fresh and new. Which is why I started The Perfectionists. It certainly seemed interesting enough.

Don't get me wrong, the story itself was great...but I feel like this was too much like every other series Sara Shepard has written about. Pretty Little Liars. The Lying Game. The Heiresses. They all contain pretty little rich girls living lavish lifestyles. Somebody gets murdered. Real shocker there.

(Don't get me wrong - I loved all of the Pretty Little Liars and Lying Game books, so I'm not personally attacking Sara here at all. She isn't a bad writer. It's just that her content is all the same.)
For a second, let's compare The Perfectionists to Pretty Little Liars.

They both contain...
Five rich teen girls in high school? Check.
A super-rich town where everyone is pressured to be the best? Check.
Super-rich high school with state of the art everything? Check.
Girls that are brought together by odd means (wouldn't normally be friends)? Check.
Gorgeous fashionista girl? Check.
Popular girl knocked off her pedestal? Check.
Someone falling for boyfriend/girlfriend's sibling? Check.
One gorgeous rich offspring murdered? Check.
These five girls being blamed for the murder? Check.
Going off on their own to solve the crime? Check.
...That not working out for them? Check.
The police not believing them and they end up being framed? Check. And Check.
Keeping secrets thinking it'll keep them safe? Check.
Still no idea who did it? Double check.

I could understand a few similarities, but come on. I originally planned on giving this book four stars when I started reading it, liking where it was going. But as I read on, the similarities between this book and the Pretty Little Liars series began to stick out like huge red flags. I tried ignoring them at first, became pretty much impossible.

This book pretty much feels like reading a watered-down, less intense version of Pretty Little Liars. Or The Lying Game. Or, surprise, surprise, The Heiresses. 

Sara Shepard is such a talented writer for thrillers and mysteries, and she always seems to hone it in on rich girls and murder in wealthy towns. I get that the subject has been giving her a great deal of success, but come on, girl! Expand your horizons! You're so TALENTED - explore and experiment!

I was honestly debating picking up The Heiresses, but I don't think I can do it now. I don't want to read a rich girl murder for the fourth time in a row. And the only reason I'm reading the second book in The Perfectionists' duology is so I can find out who really did murder Nolan Hotchkiss (because surprise, surprise, you're left with another cliff hanger).

If this book ends up becoming a sixteen-book shenanigan like Pretty Little Liars did, I will honestly be very disappointed. Some things are so great that they should be short and sweet. Trilogies are my favorite - they go on long enough that it doesn't end so soon but also short enough that you find yourself bored and not knowing what tangent the series decided to go off on.

However, there were some things I enjoyed about this book. The diversity between the five girls was definitely a lot more prominent in this book than in Pretty Little Liars. This series deals with new topics like hoarding, parental abuse, having gay parents, and coming from mixed backgrounds. Stuff that wasn't really brought to light in the other books. That diversity was welcomed and fun to read about.

All in all, The Perfectionists was a well-written book, but it just reminded me way too much of Pretty Little Liars to enjoy it. I found myself annoyed at the glaring similarities and I wish that Sara Shepard will use her awesome book-writing talent to expand on new ideas that don't only revolve around rich girls and murder. 


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