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In this review, I discuss Karen Hamilton’s The Perfect Girlfriend, a chilling psychological thriller about obsession taken to the extreme.
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Welcome to crazy town! This is quite a twisted little psychological thriller about over-the-top obsession that follows our main character Juliette, a psychotic girlfriend who is determined to get her boyfriend Nate back…no matter what. In fact, her motto is:
If you love someone, let them go.
If they come back, they’re yours.
If they don’t, make them!
Juliette thinks of herself as the perfect girlfriend, and she just doesn’t understand how Nate could have broken up with her six months earlier. So she embarks on a wild plan to get him back — and there’s no such thing as going too far to get what she wants.
She’s completely reinvented herself and trained to become a flight attendant unbeknownst to Nate who is an airline pilot. A good part of the story revolved around Juliette being an air hostess and I loved how it worked in the story. She basically becomes a flight attendant to keep an eye on Nate and so that she could be privy to his flight schedule. In fact, she infiltrated herself into every part of Nate’s life without him knowing it.
I thought the airline backdrop made for quite an original and refreshing setting and I do recall that the author was a flight attendant so we get to experience that life first hand. It often felt as though we were on those flights right along with Juliette.
So what’s fun about this novel, is that it’s told entirely from Juliette’s point of view, so we’re in the head of someone who’s obsessed and pretty much psychotic. In this way, we’re privy to her every thought, plan, and action. I have to say that it was a bit uncomfortable, if not downright dark and disturbing, being in her head as we saw firsthand how she justified her actions.
It was riveting, and at the same time shocking, to see just how far she was willing to go. Also riveting was the extent of her impressive investigative skills which were all part of her ingenious..and chilling…plans.
I read this book in two sittings because I couldn’t put it down, especially once I reached about the halfway mark when things go super, super crazy and become incredibly fast-paced. It’s also about this time that we get the delightful, clever twist that I didn’t see coming at all. Speaking of twists, this wasn’t one of those twisty-turny novels with one surprise twist after another but rather, it was more of an in-depth, mesmerizing personality study of someone who is utterly bonkers.
I have to say that the bunny-boiling Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction has nothing on Juliette AKA Elizabeth AKA Lily, who takes creepiness to a who new level. In fact, just when you think she certainly couldn’t go any more extreme with her wild schemes, she shockingly ups the ante.
Her antics and her ferocity made me cringe more than a time or two, and it indeed reminded me of the fine line between love and hate. It also warned me how quickly one’s life can spiral out of control when one is driven by vengeance and obsession. So let this be a lesson to you boys and girls.
In fact, this book was kind of like Fatal Attraction on steroids. What’s interesting, is that there really aren’t any likable characters, but strangely enough, you found yourself almost rooting for Juliette which was a tad shocking when you realize that you’re cheering on a crazy-pants psycho stalker. Her personality just kind of sucks you in and the author wrote the story in such a way that you couldn’t help but empathize with her, even though you know what she’s doing is so, so wrong. This fact definitely highlights the author’s skills as a writer. Yes, she’s unstable, but I couldn’t get enough of her. This is another one of those stories that’s like a car crash….you can’t bear to look yet you can’t tear your eyes away.
So all in all, The Perfect Girlfriend is a compelling and twisted psychological thriller about obsession that’s out of control and taken to the extreme. Featuring mind games, devious manipulation, revenge, and fixation, it’s a story in which an unhinged and relentless young woman sets out to reminder her ex that she is, indeed, the perfect girlfriend. I thought it was extremely well-written and engaging with intensely strong characterization.
Now, this would have easily been a 5 star read for me if it wasn’t for the ending. I typically like neat endings where everything is nicely wrapped up. So it’s often been my experience with some thrillers and suspense novels that the author likes to leave the reader with an ambiguous ending. Such was the case with this book, and the anti-climatic conclusion left me feeling a tad frustrated and wanting for more. Thus, I ended up knocking off a star for the ending.
But other than that, this was an excellent standout novel that I heartily recommend this fantastic debut novel, and I will assuredly be reading more by Ms. Hamilton.
In the spirit of disclosure, I received an Advance Reader Copy of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.