February 11, 2015

Review: Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor

Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor
Publication date: Feb. 17, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after. But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn't all it’s cracked up to be? (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
When you have a picture-perfect family, a steady relationship with a boy who loves you and you’re on a sure-fire path to the college of your dreams — nothing could possibly go wrong, right? Juliet Newman finds out the hard way that nothing is ever as it seems. First her parents divorce and her dad moves out, then her mom becomes incapable of coping with this and on what was possibly the worst night of Juliet’s life, she meets Declan, a guy who shakes her and her world even more than it already has. Basically everything that used to feel right in her life doesn’t anymore and Juliet is trying her best to hold it together for everyone else, which is always a bad idea.

There were certain situations in this book that resonated with me and that I liked. Mainly the idea that you’ve put yourself on this iron-clad path for so long (take AP classes, have the right GPA and SAT scores, apply to college), that somewhere along the way you start to question why or what you really want. I think it’s a crossroads that can come up many times in a person’s life. High school, college, even after. I thought Juliet’s struggle to separate her own wants from the people around her, like her boyfriend and parents, is a relatable one. Same with her relationship with her parents. She knows they’re proud of her and she wants to make them proud but are they close? Do they really know her or she them? These are questions she asks herself and I found myself nodding along in understanding.

Other random things I liked about the book: Declan and his taste in music.

(Major) Reservations
Better Than Perfect is a short book and I felt that there was too much going on to pursue a single plot or the depth of Julie’s feelings thoroughly. Often times, it just seemed as though all these things were happening and Julie was going through the motions but she wasn’t communicating with anyone (not her boyfriend, not her best friend) and she wanted to ignore these problems. So there were barely any inner monologues to truly understand her thoughts. I understood what she was going through because I sympathized but I never felt as if I got to know her. Then the whole side story with Declan felt unnecessary. Or maybe the boyfriend was unnecessary. Regardless, I think two love interests was too much given everything else. Maybe instead of Declan being another messy thing in her life, he could’ve been something real and it didn’t feel that way. He and his story just brought in another random factor to the plot that didn’t make sense at all or add much overall.

Do I recommend?
I can’t say that I do. There were elements that I liked and thanks to the book, I did find a new song to listen to on repeat (UB40 cover of I Got You Babe - check it out!). But as a whole, I was underwhelmed by the story.

2 comments:

  1. Hmm. I always have a hard time with books where a character decides to cast aside their previously solid college plans which is sounds like might happen here. It's so frustrating too when a book has a character with a support system only to see that character not use said support system by communicating about anything.

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  2. Ah, Better Than Perfect. There were definitely things I liked about it, for sure, and I thought parts of Juliet's experience (especially that crossroads you mentioned) were things I could relate to. But I do feel like it was a bit rushed and some elements unnecessary. Either way, gotta give Kantor credit for tackling the tough stuff!

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