author : kate jarvik birch
pages : [hardcover] 304
favorite character : missy
Freedom comes at a cost…
Ella was genetically engineered to be the perfect pet—graceful, demure…and kept. In a daring move, she escaped her captivity and took refuge in Canada. But while she can think and act as she pleases, the life of a liberated pet is just as confining as the Congressman’s gilded cage. Her escape triggered a backlash, and now no one’s safe, least
of all the other pets. But she’s trapped, unable to get back
to Penn—the boy she loves—or help the girls who need her.
Back in the United States, pets are turning up dead. With help from a very unexpected source, Ella slips deep into the dangerous black market, posing as a tarnished pet available to buy or sell. If she’s lucky, she’ll be able to rescue Penn and expose the truth about the breeding program. If she fails, Ella will pay not only with her life, but the lives
of everyone she’s tried to save…
I was so excited to get my hands on Tarnished because with the ending of Perfected, the first book, I absolutely needed to know what was going to happen next in Ella and Penn’s story. While I feel like Tarnished suffered from second-book syndrome, it really did a great job of building itself up to a conclusion in what I’m pretty sure is a trilogy. I guess I’ll need to wait for book three to find out if I’ll get all of my answers there!
In Tarnished, Ella’s story begins in Canada, where she’s being looked after as a fugitive pet. She desperately wants news of what is happening to Penn back in New York because of what happened during their escape. She teams up with an unlikely ally to smuggle herself back into the United States, not only so that she can reunite with her boyfriend but so she can expose the kennels and win freedom for herself, and other pets, once and for all.
I think what’s unfortunate for this book is that there are several others extremely similar to it that came out around the same time it was published. Just one that comes to mind is The Jewel; I’mc certain there are many more. I don’t understand what it is about authors who were all tempted to write about the forced enslavement/servitude of girls, all with an insanely creepy edge, but Tarnished manages to stand out so far because Birch really talks about the politics that go into play when some standard like this is being ‘normalized’ in society. It’s kind of scary, knowing that this same thing happens, with different results, in reality. Ella doesn’t know who to trust because the politicians are the ones who own all of the pets, the police are being bought, and half of the population doesn’t consider pets like her to be even close to human. Her actions bring about a kind of unrest that isn’t exactly foreign in the US today.
Although pieces of this book were predictable, perhaps because the genre has become so over-saturated, Tarnished still kept me on my toes. I wanted to know what was going to happen to the girls because even when I knew something terrible was going to happen, I didn’t know how that horrible moment would take shape. I think some readers might be slightly put-off by how naive Ella seems to be. But she’s been cloistered throughout her entire life so, really, it doesn’t make sense that she would put together answers that the reader will inevitably guess at. I want Ella to get her happy ending, after all of the horror she’s endured and had to learn about, just as much as she wants it for herself.
This book was a quick read, with some great action and an interesting premise. I’d recommend it.