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The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton is a standalone psychological thriller that really made me think and, honestly, left me a bit confused after the last chapter.
The story is told from Juliette’s point of view. Juliette is a woman obsessed with one guy: Nate, an aircraft pilot, who has recently dumped her. She is not one to let things go, so the book is literally her scheming to get him back and keep him – forever if possible.
Up to a point, I understood this obsession. Nobody likes it when they are dumped, no matter the reason, and many people have schemed – at least in their heads – how to get their ex back. Heck, a whole industry has been created around the theme of getting your ex back, with numerous books, courses, and seminars on this very topic.
But, how many people would actually go to the lengths Juliette went to get their ex back? I daresay, not many. And herein likes the thrill in the book.
Juliette is, by the modern standards, a narcissistic psychopath. As the story progresses, since the book is told from her POV, we gradually learn about her obsession, and bits and pieces of Juliette and Nate’s past are revealed to us. I have to admit that, at times, I even rooted for the lady, given some of the things that were revealed as Juliette would think back to her past.
Now, I’m not entirely sure whether a psychopath actually thinks like Juliette. But if they do, that is really creepy, and my peek into their world left me a bit shaken. A creepy stalker’s brain is not a fun place to be in!
Even my definition of obsession goes only so far. At some point, I became so uncomfortable with the whole situation that I found myself going to hubby and embrace him just to feel closer to him.
As for the actual plot, it develops very slowly. I daresay that until well past the middle of the book, nothing major really happened. At a given moment I was wondering whether all we’d see is Juliette’s internal monologue. But, eventually, things did pick up, and we got to see the main character in all her psycho glory. Eww…
I really enjoyed the parts around the air hostess (informal: stewardess) world. Who didn’t want to become one at some point, at least during their childhood? I found it interesting to learn more about their glamorous, albeit rather lonely, world. And, of course, Juliette’s stalking obsession shines here too because while Nate is a pilot, Juliette can’s stay away from him, so she actually takes classes and becomes a flight attendant just to get close to him. Talk about a major career change for love!
Even though the book started slowly, I was hooked on the story right away. It is a very character-driven tale. The middle really picked up until the very end, so much that I found myself running back to reading it every free moment I got.
Well, until the very last page, when I threw away the book across the room in frustration. Just kidding. I will never throw my Kindle across the room, but if the book were a paperback, I’d have gladly done it. This was not the ending I expected, wanted, or even prepared for. While it initially shocked me, eventually I started to think that the author really dropped the ball here. It’s like she ran out of space or motivation or even a clue on how to finish the book and just threw that bit together and called it done.
After reading the book, I headed over to Goodreads to see other reviews, and alas, I’m not the only one angry with the ending. In a way, I felt vindicated in my frustration because I’m not alone. I would have really given the book 5 stars, but the ending warrants the dropping of a point. While I do not rate books on Mystery Sequels anymore, if I did, I’d given it 4 stars just because of that.
Seriously, even though this is a novel, i.e. fiction, things just don’t end up that way between two intelligent, educated people. People do have choices. There would have been so many things one of the parties could have done (I won’t spoil here the ending, nor what the party could have done. You’ll come to your conclusion as well). Alas, it is what it is.
Overall, I did enjoy The Perfect Girlfriend, and the title does the book justice. The ending, not so much.