Imagine a world where specially bred (genetically modified) humans could be kept as pets. "Perfected" features Ella who was bred and raised to be a pet- complete with catering to her master's whims, being fed special food, used for looks, wearing a collar, being implanted with a microchip, and under threat of being spayed. Ella is happy with her lot in life, because she has been raised to do just that. The wealthy are the ones who can afford the human pets, and even though there is a lot of ethical debates about it (some people refusing to buy them and an underground resistance to help them escape to Canada), it has been made legal in the United States to own these pets.
Ella, at 16 years of age, is a product of the system and a perfect pet- she is happy to be owned and seeks to please her masters- the Congressman who helped to get the laws to make it legal through and his wife and two children who are still at home- Penn, a college student, and Ruby, a young girl. Ella gets a feel for the landscape with this new family as well as begins to realize the more sinister aspects of being a pet. She notes how another purchased pet is touched strangely by the wealthy man who just purchased her and how the Congressman treats her (calling her "Love," kissing her uncomfortably, and touching her with ownership/placing her on his lap uncomfortably).
While a completely enthralling story that was impossible to put down, I am curious how the developed romance will evolve in future books. Ella is susceptible to sexual harassment/assault, even if she doesn't understand what it is. There is a huge power differential between the owning family and herself. Additionally, without freedom to make her own choices, the 'romance' that develops between her and the son, Penn, cannot be real, as she is never really free to choose/never on an equal playing field with him. Will Ella realize this as the series evolves? This is a big question which I am curious to see whether it will develop in earnest in future books. Penn's feelings might be real, but Ella's cannot be, due to the power dynamic and, to an extent, some form of Stockholm Syndrome. I will be curious to see how this plays out in future books. The relationship was uncomfortable, to say the least, to read about, as it mirrors unfortunate parts of the US history.
Although the overall tone seems somewhat light, it carries some very dark themes that make me think of The Lone City series. I would give it somewhere between 3 and 4 stars, but I do want to see how this all develops in future books- what a ride!
Please note that I received an e-copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.