Search This Blog

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Perfection by J.L. Spelbring and Beware, Beware by Steph Cha

Perfection by J.L. Spelbring fits into several categories:  dystopian, alternate history, YA, science fiction.

Elyssa is genetically engineered to be an Aryan soldier.  Her entire life has been subjected to training to enhance the genetic code with which she was born.  She is stronger, faster, and smarter, much smarter, than the rest of the population.  And she can read minds.

Emotions have been trained out of Elyssa and her siblings, who all have been part of an extensive breeding program (flawed versions have been eliminated). Well, emotions have been bred or trained out of Elyssa's siblings, but Elyssa has learned to hide her emotions, to keep a blank face, to preserve the little bit of self she can manage.

When briefly confronted with an "inferior,"  a man with dark hair who astounds her by speaking into her mind, Elyssa becomes curious.  She begins some surreptitious investigating and plans her escape from The Center, the sterile atmosphere in which she has been raised.  

A great premise with plenty of tension and action.  Main problems?  Insta-love and too little character development of minor characters (Elyssa feels genuine, but Rein?), which brings the quality down a notch or two.  

For the most part, however, Perfection provides an engrossing read and leaves the reader with the need to follow up with the sequel.  It is definitely YA, but an exciting (debut?) novel that will quickly pull you in to the world the author has created.  Yep, Flawed, the sequel, is on my wish list.

NetGalley/Spencer Hill Press

Dystopian/Alternate History/science fiction.  2013; 2014.  Print length:  331 pages.

Beware, Beware by Steph Cha follows Juniper Song (the second Korean/American female detective/PI I've read about recently) through the mean streets of LA, paying homage to Philip Marlowe.  (Now, I want to read more Raymond Chandler or watch films like the Big Sleep to get back into that 1940's noir.)

I'm digressing, but really-- Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe and Lauren Bacall in a Howard Hawks film with screenplay by William Faulkner, et al!  Why wouldn't I want to watch that again?

OK - back to Beware, Beware.  Nope, another digression:  I can not see or hear the pairing of the words "beware, beware" without thinking of Coleridge.  Lines from Kubla Khan kept echoing in my head for days.

I'm through with digressions, on to the novel.  Juniper Song, our Korean American protagonist, is an apprentice at a PI firm.  Given a case to tail the boyfriend of a well-known New York artist (because that seems simple enough for an apprentice), Juniper develops a long-distance friendship with the artist Daphne Freamon, who wants to know if her boyfriend who has moved to LA is back into drugs.  Should she dump him?

Of course, the simple case turns quite twisty-turny, and becomes more and more dangerous and less and less predictable.  

A secondary story line which is also interesting involves Lori, Juniper's roommate, which provides interesting back story into Juniper and her recent past.

In keeping with the Marlowe trope, the novel is a little gritty.  I think I need to check out Cha's first novel with Juniper Song, because I certainly enjoyed this one.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books

Mystery.  Aug. 12, 2014.  print length:  334 pages.


  1. Glad you enjoyed these books, Jenclair! I especially gear towards Perfection due to the plot and the sci-fi theme (not a fan of sci-fi though but then I'm pretty choosy, lol). It'd be interesting to see it on screen IMO.

  2. :) I love science fiction, especially dystopian novels. Perfection is definitely YA, but would make a good film!

  3. Wendy - I accidentally deleted your comment!

    Here it is: Perfection sounds interesting. Insta-love is no good, but otherwise it sounds like a promising series. Hopefully the series will get better as you go! I know sometimes characters develop more over the course of the series, especially the minor ones.

    I really like the sound of Beware Beware! I will have to add that one to my wish list.

    Reply: Insta-love is such a failure, but the rest of Perfection was intriguing. I think the Juniper Song series will be a good one to pursue, and I plan to get the first in the series soon.