The Book Balloon

Heidi Thomas, Independent Usborne Organiser

Book Review - A Place Called Perfect

28th October 2019

This fast-paced novel is full of twists and turns that will grip you from start to finish.

A Place Called Perfect tells the story of Violet, a girl who has just moved to a new town where nothing seems quite right. Forced to wear rose-tinted glasses and told that she has a condition called IDDCS (Irritable Dysfunctional Disobedient Child Syndrome), Violet quickly realises that the town she has moved to is far from Perfect. Then her dad disappears, her mum seems to be in a trance, and Violet is left trying to find her way with only the guidance of a mysterious stranger to help her.

Unlike some novels, A Place Called Perfect grips you from the very start. You are immediately thrown into this alien world where nothing quite makes sense, and are left blind, like Violet, trying to work out why the population of Perfect seems hypnotised by the strange Archer brothers.

Whilst the novel features classic themes from children's literature such as the importance of friendship and family, and the vision of children even through the blindness of adults, it also highlights some more interesting ideas. The power of the Archers over the town, and the desire for conformity is a great metaphor for why children should celebrate their individuality, rather than trying to be the same as everyone else. Whilst, the power of your imagination to give you freedom is an important lesson to remember even when life seems at its most difficult.

On the surface, this novel seems perfect for fans of Coraline or Neil Gaiman, but for us, there seems to be a touch of the Harry Potter magic throughout. From the divide between the Perfectionists and the No-Mans Landers, to the imaginations stored in jars, to the final dramatic fight scene, there is a real sense of a battle between good and evil, with just enough fantasy to enchant any vivid imagination.

We couldn't think of a more perfect novel for any 9-12 year old and were wholeheartedly captivated by the magic that Helena Duggan weaves throughout it.

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