Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: Perfect Lies -- Kiersten White

Release Date: February 18, 2014
Source: Edelweiss
Published by: Harper Teen

Perfect Lies (Mind Games #2) -- Kiersten White - Goodreads | Purchase

Annie and Fia are ready to fight back.

The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside.

But Annie's visions of the future can't show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia's first love, Fia knows he's hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other - but that may not be enough to save them.

No doubt that Mind Games was a highly polarizing novel. Most of my blogger friends disliked it, but it seemed like literary publications generally praised Mind Games (I believe one publication had called it a tour de force), and I personally liked it and was curious as to where White would take the plot. So, when I saw Perfect Lies on Edelweiss, I decided why not.

I nearly cried reading this novel. Me! Maybe in my entire life, I've cried like three times when reading books, and one of them even felt like I was squeezing stuff out just because everyone else had (yes, I'm looking at you, The Fault in Our Stars). But Perfect Lies was sad and built on the emotional intensity of its predecessor. I'm a firm believer that writers who take risks come out with better work, and it's clear that White has taken a lot of risks with this... and yes, they worked.

Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Fia, a protagonist - Fia was always my favorite of the two girls mostly because she was off the rocker. I loved how her neurotic perspective, her fragile balance on reality and her "perfect" instinct (and thus ability to physically survive) meshed with something so simple: her love for her sister. She was half a femme fatale, and half a confused teenager who's not entirely sane because people are constantly trying to take advantage of her and her abilities. And she's that way again, except getting much worse in the head as she gets deeper into the Keane school and conspiracy. Also, this is random, but it gets explained why she does that specific number of taps. I don't know if that was in the previous novel, but that made me happy.

2. (+) Annie, a protagonist - YES! This is what I wanted. In Mind Games, Annie frustrated me because she let other people take care of her and wasn't as active a character as Fia was. I wanted her to have more agency, and that's what happened. Mind Games was Fia's novel; Perfect Lies was Annie's. Her stable, loving, accepting perspective balanced out Fia's chaotic one, and Annie learns to fight for what she wants and becomes as fierce and competent and action oriented as her sister. Here's a perfect line for her growth in this novel (p. 74 in the e-ARC; can change in final copy): "I've spent most of my life feeling helpless. Being made to feel helpless. I'm done feeling like that."

3. (+) Plot - Here's where I have a question for you: can you just go with a novel? Mind Games and Perfect Lies rely on alternating perspectives and alternating timelines. As with Mind Games, at first, I tried keeping track of the time frame but knew that I would just get myself confused and continued to read without thinking of the time, trusting that White and her editor had chosen these chapters to be aligned in a specific way. And letting go of my attempts to orient myself in the time frame undoubtedly helped with my understanding of what was going on, and allowed me to notice the logical pattern for why things were arranged the way they were. Like if you're shown that Annie has a vision and someone new is here, Kiersten White will explain why that person is there in the next chapter, even if it means jumping to three weeks prior to the climax. The little reminders of the time mostly serve as a good reminder of the fact that the climax is coming; that the tension is building toward that final moment. And oh, the beauty of an unreliable narrator and unreliable paranormal powers (well, in the sense that Annie's visions may or may not change...). Kiersten White takes full advantage of that. This is cleverly plotted and executed, and it's been a long time since a thriller has managed to surprise me with its twists, but White's novel sure did just that.

4. (+) Romance - Down below you'll read about the parallels in this book, and the romance was definitely one of the ways this was showcased. The dark v. light romance was shown in the last novel with regard to Fia and her choices for the future, but in this novel, Annie gets to have her chance at some romance... And it's adorable. I'm a fan of how White developed the romance between the two characters in question, allowing them to get know each other before revealing all, and there's no doubt it makes for great comparison to Fia's romance and to the bloody action of the novel.

5. (+) Parallels - Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of this novel was noting how clearly everything in this novel was paralleled and made perfect for comparison. Annie and Fia - Annie's steadier inner voice, growing stronger as Fia begins to spiral out of control; the friendships and romances each girl has and the way they both neatly and messily align; the fact that Annie is blind and able to see visions of future that she can't change, and the fact that Fia is the only one who can change the future but who doesn't always change things for the better, no matter how much she might believe otherwise, etc. etc.

6. (+/-) Characters - This is where I'd suggest the publisher put these novels into an omnibus. It's been over a year since I read Mind Games, and starting out Perfect Lies, I no longer remembered who all the characters were. Some of them were involved in key plot twists, and though White refers to some of those twists to remind readers of what happened, I still didn't quite remember who certain characters were. These novels are heavily plot-oriented, minus their focus on Fia and Annie, so other characters falling into the background is not entirely surprising, but can be combated by selling the novels together. (PS - if you're going to read this novel, you may want to skim either your copy of Mind Games or your review as a refresher because this novel wastes no time before moving forward with its plot.).

7. (+/-) The Ending - This is my main issue with the book. It felt like I'd just started to accept what had actually happened and then the novel was over. The ending works with the thriller feel and with everything else that happens, especially the fast-paced action, but I just wanted a little more... resolution? Slowing down of the pace just for a bit?

8. (+) The Writing - There were a few moments when I thought eh, that sentence wasn't necessary, but otherwise the writing is kept very tight, sharp and fast-paced. It's not typically beautiful, but it's practical and purposeful, and works really well with the dark thriller vibe. Kiersten White also does a good job differentiating Annie and Fia's voices.

9. (+) Pacing - If you're going to read this novel, clear out a few hours to read the entire thing without stopping. Perfect Lies is short but a perfect length because the pacing is quick and the book entirely taut with tension to keeps things moving.

10. (+) The Cover - Although I am more of a fan of the Mind Games cover, this one is still striking to me, and I like that it gives more of a "thoughtful" feel than the sort of desperation in the previous photograph (interpreting too much? Perhaps. Whatever, they're beautiful covers, and I have no idea how else the publishers would have portrayed the duology).

Action and thriller oriented readers should definitely pick up Perfect Lies. As a fast-paced paranormal thriller, Perfect Lies distinguishes itself from all the others that I've read. If you're a more character oriented reader or get frustrated with sometimes simplistic or repetitive writing (Fia likes to repeat things over and over in her head), you might not like this novel. But if you're looking for something that's got a lot of clever plot twists and manages to make you care about twin sisters who really would do anything for each other...well, give this one a chance, even if you weren't a fan of Mind Games.


  1. Yes! I really like these two books for all of these reasons :D. I totally get you on just going with them. In Mind Games I was able to situate myself pretty well in the time lines, but in Perfect Lies I just gave up and picked up clues whenever we jumped and it was fine ;-). Annie's agency was freaking awesome, especially with how things go down ;-)

    1. Oooh, really? The timing didn't work as well for you here? I felt like half the fun of the thriller would go away if I paid too much attention to the timing, so I didn't do it for either. It's cool that it still worked out for you! AND YES her growth was an absolute delight to read!

  2. Oh, I didn't know it was a duology, I thought it was a trilogy O.o Okay lol. I'm glad that the MC you wanted to start being more proactive and start getting her shit together finally did so. An unreliable narrator? SIGN ME UP! Mara Dyer has ruined reliable narrators for me, because I loved the crazy in Evolution. Yay for great romance:) The thriller books' endings always strike me as odd. That's why I didn't probably like Altered's ending that much or Unraveling's. Especially Unraveling's while that book was perfect for me in every other aspect. Eh, I have heard so many bad things about Mind Games, but I really want to give it a go. Perhaps low expectations will do it for me. Glad you enjoyed, Christina!

    1. Nope duology. Kinda wish it's a standalone / mushed into an omnibus. It feels like they're compact enough for that. Yes. I actually think that fans of Mara Dyer + Another Little Piece will like this duology. They all take good advantage of the slightly crazed, unreliable narrators. I hope hope hope the books work out for you even if you've heard other things about them!

  3. I'm so friggen excited for this!! I really enjoyed Mind Games, and I remember flying through it. I connected with Fia almost immediately, but shared a lot of the same frustrations as you towards Annie. So it's definitely nice to hear that she comes out of her shell here! I'm a little nervous about the slight lack of resolution, or at least, the lack of focus on the resolution, but if I enjoy everything else as much as you did, I should be ok :D

    1. YES. Everything you said - your reactions to the book & the like. There is a resolution, it is kinda focused on, but it's not as protracted as other things. Anyway, I really hope this one worked out for you!! :)

  4. I keep waffling back and forth with this series. I haven't read either book and I can't decide if I'm really intrigued or not at all interested. Some reviews make it sound like a scattered mess, and I have no interest in that. Others, like yours, make it seem like it has so much depth and character nuance with a crazy fast plot. Guess I'll have to give them a try eventually!


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