Monday, 19 February 2018

Book Review: THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND by Karen Hamilton


Author: Karen Hamilton
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Read:
February 2018
Expected publication: 27 February 2018
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟


I want a happy-ever-after, and you're going to give it to me.

Book Description:


Juliette loves Nate. She will follow him anywhere. She's even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back. She is the perfect girlfriend. And she'll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it's worth all the pain... 


My musings:


Ok, here I am, fingers poised on the keyboard, and finding myself speechless. The Perfect Girlfriend was one of the strangest books I have read in a long time. And I mean that in a good way. In fact, this was such a fun read for me! Narrated in the first person by our main protagonist Juliette (aka Lily, aka Elisabeth), the story drew me in immediately as it became clear that there were some very unusual dynamics at play here. Juliette’s boyfriend Nate may have ended their relationship, but she is not that easily dumped. According to her, the two of them are “meant to be”, if only she could make Nate see sense. 

"And the overriding problem I have is that Nate thinks he doesn't love me. Once he realises that he does, everything should naturally realign."

And Juliette will not stop at anything to get her point across. From breaking into Nate’s apartment to leave his favourite muffins in the freezer for him, to changing careers in order of getting a job with the airline he works for, to even installing a spy app on his phone to keep track of his every move, this is a girl who knows what she wants and who is determined to get it!

"Perseverance always pays off. It never, ever fails."

Extremely well written and compelling in its storyline and no-nonsense narrator, The Perfect Girlfriend took me on a rollercoaster ride of conflicting emotions. I sometimes felt like I was in a game of twister, one leg on disbelief, the other on humour, with one hand on horror and the other waving frantically around in an effort to come up for air. For most of the book the palette of emotions congealed in a kind of morbid fascination as I breathlessly watched events unfold, knowing that nothing good could come of Juliette / Lily’s actions.

Juliette is a most unusual character. Whilst not quite as blunt as Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor, Juliette is quite frank about her bordering-on-sociopathic thoughts and emotions. It is obvious that she has a problem, and that her actions veer into crazy territory, and yet anyone who has ever been cheated on, slighted or bullied will gain a certain satisfaction from her well thought out plans of revenge and her total lack of boundaries. 

"You think that you can use people and discard them when it suits. Like I was nothing. Like I meant nothing. Like we meant nothing. And you're still doing it today."

At times her rationale was quite humorous and cynical, and made me laugh. Does that make me crazy, too? I really wanted to see Nate and Bella get what they deserved – most of us have had a character like that in our lives at some stage, the privileged person to whom rules don’t seem to apply, who bully and wheedle and get their own way, sailing through life on the expense of others. 

"Girls like her get to make decisions about girls like me. Who our friends are or aren't, who will or won't speak to us, and even how teachers view us. And I was getting more and more sick of it."

I hated them both, knowing that Juliette was probably not the most reliable judge of character. And despite everything, I never stopped rooting for Juliette, which to me highlights Karen Hamilton’s skills as a writer to elicit such empathy in the reader that they are willing to justify or simply overlook and forgive Juliette’s crazy actions.


As far as psychological thrillers go, it is difficult these days to find one with an original premise that has not been done a million times before in various shades of grey. Hamilton somehow managed that difficult trick, and it really paid off for me. From the airline setting, which was unusual and interesting, to a character who defies all stereotypes of your typical young air hostess, I couldn’t tear myself away from the story. I won’t give any more away in terms of plot, because I don’t want to spoil anything for other readers, just to say that the story managed to shock and surprise right up to the end. Points for the most unusual and original psychological thriller of the year so far! Did it thrill – yes. Surprise? Yes! Shock? Definitely! It even made me question my own sanity as I secretly cheered Juliette along in her mission.  

Summary:


If you are looking for an unusual psychological thriller with a somewhat crazy but likeable heroine, then I urge you to give this one a go! The Perfect Girlfriend is Hamilton’s debut novel, and I really hope she will write more. I look forward to seeing what she will come up with next! 


Quotes:

"I developed a little theory recently, which I named my "Olive Stone Theory". Whenever I bite into an olive, I expect a stone. I am prepared. I am not like Nate - or pampered people like him, who expect to bite into their bloody olives, pitted, soft and perfect - I anticipate problems and mentally deal with them in advance."

"Trust is a luxury."


Thank you to Netgalley and Hachette Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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