April 13, 2015

REVIEW: Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor

Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: February 17, 2015
Source: Edelweiss*
Rating: 2.5/5
Get it: Amazon | B&N
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?

Melissa Kantor once again delivers a tale that is equal parts surprising, humorous, heartbreaking, and romantic. Powerful and honest, Juliet’s story brilliantly portrays the highs and lows of life in high school and will resonate with any reader who has experienced either. 

My thoughts, feelings, and reactions
I fell in love with Melissa Kantor’s Maybe One Day. It tugged on my heart strings and stayed with me long after I finished the novel. It was only natural for me to be intrigued by her following book, Better Than Perfect. I was excited to dive into the book and I was ready for many emotions to come pouring out of the page. Sadly, I did not get the feels from Better than Perfect the way I did with Maybe One Day. 

Better Than Perfect hints on the realization that the aspirations and dreams that a person strived for isn’t what they wanted after all. This is all seen through the main character, Juliet, who supposedly leads a perfect life with a good family and loving boyfriend and a bright future at a prestige university. While this all seemed something I or anyone could relate to, my detachment and utter lack of concern or care for Juliet was impossible to ignore. 

It was already apparent that Juliet didn’t have a perfect life (who does anyway?) and was not entirely happy with the lot she had. Throughout the course of the book, Juliet faces the dilemma of deviating from all she has ever known and loved and planned while giving in to the urge to try something totally different like dying her hair and singing in a rock band. This all sounded oh so interesting, but lacked in delivery and development and left me bored. 

Many points, conflicts and topics get touched on like Juliet’s mother’s depression and her strained relationship with her father. Those were probably the best parts because of the way the whole perfect concept got shattered by her family. It was the pushing moment to get Juliet to explore other possibilities. However, it wasn’t the center of the book. Those family developments were few and far between and had me wishing there was just...more. The ultimate let down was Juliet’s journey to figure out what she wanted. She really just skated on by with her boyfriend, doing random things and most of the things she did and tried I forgot because they weren’t really important or worthy of remembrance. This especially goes for the misleading romance vibe I got from the summary with Declan. I thought it was a pointless plot line that didn’t tickle my fancy at all.

The message was supposed to be clear cut about being able to lead a life you want without hindrance but this got lost in the void with Juliet’s choices and how much I really couldn’t care for her feelings. I was mostly disappointed by her actions until the very end where she finally pulls herself together a little too late for my taste. 

*Thanks to HarperTeen for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review

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