PERFECTION by J.L. Spelbring
Author: J.L. Spelbring
Rating: 4 out of 5
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Release Date: July 16, 2013
Recommended Reading: AGE+ 16
Contains No Spoilers
OVERALL THOUGHTS: This speculative tale about a world that lost the war to Hitler starts off thrilling and creepy, touching nearly every one of my senses then falls short halfway through the second act. It wasn’t bad, it just failed to meet that same level of excitement, but it wasn’t for lack of a story, the author just left too many questions unanswered and moved at a snail’s pace. For something that didn’t begin cerebral, it was like hitting water at 150 miles an hour and it took a while to find my sea legs. Overall, it was well written and definitely has the makings of an electrifying series.
SYNOPSIS: The personification of Aryan purity, Ellyssa’s spent her whole life under her creator’s strict training and guidance; her purpose is to eradicate inferior beings. She was genetically engineered to be the perfect soldier: strong, intelligent, unemotional, and telepathic.
Only Ellyssa isn’t perfect.
Ellyssa feels emotions–a fact she’s spent her life concealing. Until she encounters the epitome of inferiority: a dark-haired boy raised among renegades hiding since the Nazis won the war a century ago. He speaks to her telepathically, pushing thoughts into her mind, despite the impossibility of such a substandard person having psychic abilities.
But he does.
His unspoken words and visions of a place she’s never visited make Ellyssa question her creator. Confused and afraid her secret will be discovered, Ellyssa runs away, embarking on a journey where she discovers there is more to her than perfection. (Goodreads)
THE LOWDOWN: When I first read the blurb I thought, wow, wish I thought of that. What a terrifying concept, but creative idea, to create a world aspiring to live up to Hitler’s dream. The master plan to rid the earth of what the most hated man in history deemed subhuman was near complete and anyone without blond hair and blue eyes was put into concentration camps. And if that wasn’t enough, a mad scientist/doctor genetically designed a group of children with superhuman abilities. Everything in this psychopaths plan goes off without a hitch until one of the super kids decides to feel empathy and all hell breaks loose. This is the kickoff to the story. A super kid being chased and hunted by an underground group willing to do anything for her return. The author wrote beautifully and vividly. I felt like I was fleeing on foot with the protagonist. When she jumps from a train, so did I and every breath she drew in dread, I did as well.
The author drafts very realistic situations and I loved the way she built her post war cities. Many parks were named after Hitler and his goon squad and she detailed a lot of the Führer’s fetishes within this fabricated culture. I also admired how effortlessly she entwined the overall fear that sat atop these designed communities. The Gestapo, now a world-wide police force that ensures Arian citizens lived free, brutally punished those unfortunate enough to be born with the inferior pigment. And boy does she write good bad guys. The cop hunting the protagonist was sadistic and cruel, as was the doctor, who genetically planned and executed a master race of Hitler freaks.
But then, about a quarter of the way through this story, the protagonist finds herself getting cozy with the resistance and the story goes from action to a heady fast. And once the tone changed so did the pace. What was wild, was now slow as molasses and I found myself flipping pages. Don’t get me wrong, at first I loved getting to know the resistance and all they stood for, especially in a world with such deplorable ideologies. But the two pages of learning about how they survive underground turned into 10 and then 20 and soon I was finding reasons to become distracted. This was unfortunate because I desperately wanted the underdog to win, to succeed and wipe this sick and twisted mindset from the earth, but the pace got my wheels spinning and then questions about the world started to arise which were never answered and the story became wholly implausible. If the author just stuck to the “chase” theme, I wouldn’t have had a chance to ponder the larger scope questions like:
- What happened to all the Jewish people;
- Or the dark-haired people of Asia, South America and Africa;
- Was everyone who wasn’t blond killed;
- How did Hitler win; and
- How did he exterminate all those people – because let’s face it, blonds are the minority.
And even though I knew the answer to some of these questions, they were addressed lamely, if at all. Unfortunately, when you use an alternate present that comes from past fact, you draw too many ties to actuality and that just leads to skepticism. But to not address the bigger world building questions made me feel less connected to this book.
Now, I have to keep this spoiler free so I can’t tell you how it ends, but I can tell you that it was worth the wait. I felt satisfied even though it ends open. It was action packed, bloody, fun and scary – a true battle royale! I loved every minute of it. My only complaint was that it was too quick. Had the midsection received a little tummy tuck this fun ending could have played perfectly. I’m not saying it needed much, but it did feel slightly rushed. But because this story is far from over and now that the author has introduced us to all the characters, I expect the next installment to be a little less expository and lot more battle packed.
FINAL THOUGHTS: If you can suspend disbelief and go into it knowing that the action bookends a mediocre middle, this book is well worth the paper it’s written on. So go ahead and read Perfection.