Audiobook Review: Perfect

Audiobook Review: PerfectPerfect by Ellen Hopkins
Series: Impulse #2
Release Date: September 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 622
Source: Publisher

Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there.

Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never have understood.

Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect?

Plot: There is something about the strive for perfection that I can relate to. I suppose that we can all relate to. That balance between becoming what your parents wish and what you wish is tricky. And when you’re 16…17…18…it’s hard to make your parent see you are more than just a silly child and that your dreams are not fantasies. While the means to get there may be different, the basic strive to perfect is fundamentally the same.

Out of four character Hopkins presents, Cara was my favorite. I related to her struggle the most out of all of them. I kind of adored all the scenes with Dani and the way she sent Cara’s world upside down (in a mainly good way.) Had I been reading the print version, I would have had to force myself not to skip ahead to her parts. I hate everything she is put through due to Sean, but I love the way that Dani helps her through, too. I believe out of the four she is the one that grew the most through the story and has one of the most hopeful, bright futures ahead of her. Among all the sadness she somehow finds a way to be who she really is.

I would be remiss not to mention Andre. He came in pretty close behind Cara as my favorite, although, I felt like he had the least to overcome. Still, I love how he had a good head on his shoulders and was by far the most grounded. Love may have made him do crazy things, but he never lost that cool, level headed thinking. His dreams may not line up with his parents, but he that making money wasn’t all there was to life. The whole doing what you love above all and you’ll find a way to pay the bills is a message I try to sell daily. Andre’s parent may not be happy, but he’ll go far–and maybe even earn his own mansion on the hill.

Audio: Hopkins has a way with words that truly makes her the Queen of Verse. Perfect is no exception, and for me, was brought to a whole new level via the audio book. Hearing the words spoken aloud really turned up the wow factor. With each character having their own distinct voice, they became real like, tangible, as if I were listening to one of my best friends talk.

I will admit there was a little confusion as to who was who at first, especially between Cara and Kendra, but once I had the voices down I was set. Honestly, I’m not sure if the mix-up would have disappeared so fast if I had been reading the print version; if only because Kendra and Cara were so closely tied together/had a lot in common. For example, they were both cheerleaders, both popular, and both loved Connor. However, their paths to perfection are quite different so I would have gotten it straight, but hearing their voices made it much easier.

My only complaint about doing audio for Perfect is I missed the different typography that Hopkins brings to her novels. I was able to pick up some in the way she ended and began a character with the same word/ideas, but the rest just doesn’t translate to audio. While the audio worked brilliantly nor do I regret choosing it over print, but I do plan on flipping through a print version to see what subtle messages Hopkins added through it.

Have you read Perfect? If so, be sure to let me know what you thought!

Book Review: Identical

Book Review: IdenticalIdentical by Ellen Hopkins
Release Date: Aug. 2008
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Pages: 576
Source: Library

Meet Kaeliegh. She's your average, all-American girl who loves to act and work part-time at a retirement home. She's rather soft spoken and tries to help people when she can. But underneath the surface, she's harboring a dark secret. When she was eight, her father crossed a line that no father should ever that ended with him molesting and raping her. She longs to break free and have a normal life & love, but could she ever have enough strength to do it alone?

Now, meet Raeanne, her twin sister. She suspects her sister's secret, but doesn't understand her pain. In fact, she's a little jealous of the attention her sister is getting. She sometimes even wishes it was her. A crazy need that pushes her to seek out attention through older guys, drugs, and sex. Raeanne believes that she is in control, but the truth is that her self-destructive attitude is about to send her over the edge. Will she seek out help before it's too late?

Watch as this seemingly normal family falls apart in plain sight.  Their lies and secrets chip away at them a little more each day until there is nothing left of the life they once knew. Can they pull it together before everything crumbles or will this be the end for Kaeliegh, Raeanne and their all-American family?

So, this was my first Hopkins book and all I have to say is, wow. I have heard time and time again how she has a way with verse and bringing it to life and I fully agree. I was reading this one in the 20-24 hour range of the read-a-thon and boy did it hold my attention. I remembering struggling to make it to that mark last year, but Identical truly helped keep the tiredness at bay. And this coming from a girl who normally doesn’t like verse novels! But Hopkins does such a great job at bringing her characters to life. I felt like I knew Kaeleigh and Raeanne so well, almost as if the 565 pages had been full of prose with lots of descriptions rather than carefully constructed verse. And, without ruining it, the ending totally surprised me. In no way shape or form did I see that one coming. I mean, yes, I have heard of that concept before and even have seen it in another book, but I was so drawn into the characters that I totally missed the truth of it all. Looking back at it now, I can totally see it, but I so missed the big clues as I was reading. I almost want to go back and read it again and see what other clues I missed along the way.

Before I end this mini-review, I want to talk about the writing itself. I’ve already established that I think Hopkins is pretty amazing, but she takes it to a whole new level with the stylization of her poems. I loved how she did different shapes from time to time and how they corresponded to the poem (hearts, glasses, etc). I also really liked the mini-sentence at the end/start of each Kaeleigh/Raeanne section and how they mirrored each other. And to be honest, I was halfway through the book before I really noticed it. I thought Hopkins was just sticking a work out to the side and never really even noticed that those isolated words formed a phrase. (Of course, my delay in noticing should be totally forgivable; after all I was reading this one from 1:00 – 6:00 am. Normally, I’m not so dense and would have caught it right away.) And how for each sister that phrase took on a new meaning. It really did help put extra meaning to what the sisters were talking about.

Being a slight poet myself, I tip my hat to Hopkins and her powerful skill to bring a story to life via verse. I certainly look forward to picking up Hopkins’ other works.