One of my friends has been on a book-reading binge, and she gave me a stack of books to read from her stash. The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton was one of them, though she did give me the disclaimer that it was a little problematic, but enjoyable.
I haven’t read the book or seen the TV show You, but it’s super-popular right now, and the idea of getting into the mind of a (fictional) stalker is kind of cool. Their brains truly work in a different way than other peoples’, and I was excited to read about about a stalker could justify her actions. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I got my answer.
Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline so she can keep a closer eye on him.
They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.
She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.
True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…
Honestly, my biggest problem with this novel is how many times the author uses the word “whilst.” I know Hamilton is from the UK, but I’ve read many English books before, and never has the use of the word been so distracting. Any time it could have been used, it was used; never with an alternative or a synonym, and it makes it so much harder for me to get into the story. It’s all I could focus on.
Looking beyond my problems with word choice, this story had a lot of potential: Juliette really is a fantastic stalker (wow, I feel really creepy writing that). She barely makes mistakes and is able to go undetected in almost any situation. Her terrible childhood helps the reader understand why she is the way she is, though I’m not sure her reasoning behind being obsessed with Nate is quite believable. Things also seem to come too easy to Juliette in a lot of ways: She wants to live near Nate? Check. She wants to work at his company? Check. She wants to get a job as a waitress specifically for Bella’s wedding? No problem! It was all a bit too convenient. She also managed to plan the perfect murder with seemingly little thought about it.
Every person in this book, except Tara, was a terrible person, which, in this case, I’m not sure helps the stakes. Even though Juliette was trying to ruin these people’s lives, I didn’t really care, because they weren’t good people. When the story came together near the end, even apologies didn’t seem genuine. I literally could not care less about these people…any of them.
I really have to write about the end, since it was a big problem for me, so consider this your spoiler alert: The book didn’t end. It felt like Hamilton didn’t know where to go from there and just stopped writing. It really would have benefitted from at least an epilogue (with a little bit of a time jump) to see where Juliette and Nate ended up. I can’t see them getting back together, and both of them should really be in jail, but does Juliette continue to stalk him? Does she consider her job well done and move on? Or do they end up with the most messed-up relationship in the history of relationships? With the mediocrity of the rest of the story, I feel like a solid ending might have inspired me to give it more than two stars; especially if there was some kind of twist.
Food for thought
The narrative of the stalker was definitely interesting and something I’ve never read before. What tale of obsession is your favourite?
“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours. If they don’t, make them.” —Karen Hamilton, The Perfect Girlfriend
Thank you to Eva Darron on Unsplash for the photo of the view from the plane.