By Kate Pavao,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Murder mystery is formulaic fluff but rather addictive.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
If you have a reluctant reader, this guilty pleasure may do the trick. Teens also may be interested in some of the films mentioned here, including The Bad Seed and And Then There Were None, which are based on great novels.
There's a lot of inappropriate behavior here: A lecherous teacher preys on female students, a girl makes her best friend think the boy she likes likes her back, a bully pushes a kid to suicide, a boy shares a sexy picture of a girl with his friends, and the protagonists drug a boy to exact revenge. But even though they do a bad thing, they're trying to right a wrong, and they do look out for one another.
Positive Role Models
The girls at the center of this story aren't perfect, but they're trying to right some wrongs, including getting revenge on a bully who pushes an introverted boy to kill himself and a teacher who sexually harasses students. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether these characters are worth rooting for.
Violence & Scariness
Girls drug a boy at a party, and he dies the next morning. A boy kills himself after being relentlessly bullied. A father abuses his daughter. A teacher is murdered.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some dating, kissing, and making out. A girl feels used after having sex with her boyfriend. Plus, a teacher collects sexts from students on his phone and later propositions one of the protagonists, who has a reputation for trading sexual favors for grades. She kisses him, unbuttons her dress, and tells him she wants a "perfect" night with him -- though she's really tricking him.
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Some strong words, including "bitch," "butt," "oh, my God," and "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
The girls live in a wealthy town, and clothing brands include Hermès, Toms, Kate Spade, and Alice and Olivia; cars include Mercedes, BMW, and Audi; drink brands include Starbucks, Gatorade, and Coke; and media and entertainment references include iPhone, iPod, Nintendo DS, Katy Perry, and Jay-Z. Also, a teacher confiscates a Zippo lighter.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Students take OxyContin recreationally, and a teacher has a prescriptions. There's drinking at a teen party. A student and a teacher smoke cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard is a guilty pleasure similar to her Pretty Little Liars series, and as such has some risqué content: In addition to drinking, smoking, drugs, two murders, some strong language, and label dropping, a lecherous teacher preys on female students, even collecting sexts from them; a girl makes her best friend think the boy she likes likes her back; a bully pushes a kid to suicide; a boy shares a sexy picture of a girl with his friends, and more. The protagonists -- a group of girls -- drug a boy to exact revenge, and he turns up dead. But, even though they do a bad thing, they're trying to right a wrong, and they do look out for one another. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether these characters are worth rooting for. If your kids won't read anything else, this fluffy fiction may do the trick. Teens also may be interested in some of the films mentioned here, including The Bad Seed and And Then There Were None, which are based on great novels.
Where to Read
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What's the Story?
If you're familiar with the Pretty Little Liars franchise, you know the drill. In THE PERFECTIONISTS, there's a group of girls hiding big secrets: One is the daughter of a hoarder; one is falling in love with her boyfriend's younger brother; and another is cheating with her best friend's boyfriend. The biggest secret of all? What they did to the bully who tortured them all on the night he was murdered. But really, Nolan's death is only the beginning for the girls in this scandalicious series.
Is It Any Good?
Author Sara Shepard has a gift for spinning an endless string of secrets and scandals. Among this material, she does manage to raise some contemporary issues that will make readers think. There are many instances of bullying and cyberbullying, including one character killing himself because he can no longer handle how a bully is treating him at school. Readers also will enjoy thinking about the question of vigilantism that the girls discuss in their film class: "It was weirdly satisfying to watch each person get what he or she deserved. Could you even call it murder?" Readers who liked the Pretty Little Liars book series and TV show are likely to get hooked on this series, too -- even before the planned TV show comes out.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about murder mysteries. What is appealing about these kind of stories?
Also, what do you think of the girls' behavior? They make some bad choices, including drugging a classmate. Are you rooting for them anyway?
What's fun about reading a series? Do you plan to read the sequels? What do you think will happen next?
- Author: Sara Shepard
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: October 7, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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