Last week I received a review copy of Perfect by Rachel Joyce. Lovelybooks and RandomHouse UK (Doubleday) had another great cooperation (oh how I love them for these, I can’t say it enough) and I received the copy to participate in a Lovelybooks book discussion.
Summary quoted from RandomHouse UK¹:
Summer, 1972: In the claustrophobic heat, eleven-year-old Byron and his friend begin ‘Operation Perfect’, a hapless mission to rescue Byron’s mother from impending crisis.
Winter, present day: As frost creeps across the moor, Jim cleans tables in the local café, a solitary figure struggling with OCD. His job is a relief from the rituals that govern his nights.
Little would seem to connect them except that two seconds can change everything.
And if your world can be shattered in an instant, can time also put it right?
Perfect is set in England in the 1970s and in the present. I really enjoyed how Rachel Joyce described different processes. Like for example the process of sugar cubes being dropped into cups of tea. She does that brilliantly.
The main characters are a boy called Byron and a man called Jim. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to connect that well with Byron. Maybe it also has to do with the storytelling. I’ll talk about that later on. I was however perfectly able to empathize with Jim. I was able to feel every single emotion he felt. And many of them weren’t that pleasant. So be aware that this book is only for people who aren’t depressed, because it will most probably make you feel depressed.
As I already mentioned above, Perfect features two main characters. There are two strings of storyline – one set in the 1970s and wrapping around Byron’s life, and one set in the present, telling us more about Jim. In my opinion Byron’s story, which seems to be the main plot, is really slow-paced. This might also have to do with it being written in past tense. More than once, I caught myself looking forward to another chapter about Jim. To me, Jim’s story seems much more lively, probably because it written in present tense and because it really is much more lively. There are things happening in Jim’s storyline, whereas a lot of Byron’s storyline is spent planning and waiting. I also missed a real climax in the book. As I mentioned before, I really liked how Ms. Joyce described processes. This is fine writing. Still, I was a little disappointed after all the praise I’ve read about Perfect. I’d recommend it to people who don’t mind a slow and depressing read.