Review : In a Perfect World
In a Perfect World by Laura Kasischke
Pages : 309
Genre : Fiction
My Rating :
From the back of the book :
This is the way the world ends…
It was a fairy tale come true when Mark Dorn—handsome pilot, widower, tragic father of three—chose Jiselle to be his wife. The other flight attendants were jealous: She could quit now, leaving behind the million daily irritations of the job. (Since the outbreak of the Phoenix flu, passengers had become even more difficult and nervous, and a life of constant travel had grown harder.) She could move into Mark Dorn’s precious log cabin and help him raise his three beautiful children.
But fairy tales aren’t like marriage. Or motherhood. With Mark almost always gone, Jiselle finds herself alone, and lonely. She suspects that Mark’s daughters hate her. And the Phoenix flu, which Jiselle had thought of as a passing hysteria (when she had thought of it at all), well . . . it turns out that the Phoenix flu will change everything for Jiselle, for her new family, and for the life she thought she had chosen.
In short, In a Perfect World was better than I expected, but not as good as I wanted it to be.
My biggest problem with the book was the lack of information. I got that the author was trying to write more of a character-centered story than a tale of survival, but I had a hard time figuring what exactly was going on. The progression felt unclear, and rather than portraying the characters’ feeling of uncertainty, it felt more like a lack of details.
For instance, take the Swine Pheonix Flu. We never know what it really is, until the end – and then again, we don’t really know. Like in real life, there are a lot of rumors about where it comes from and what it is, but we have so little information on what it does that I had a hard time feeling the scare (as I did, for instance, with Life as We Knew it). The fact that we don’t know what caused it didn’t bug me as much as the fact that we don’t know what the characters know. It all felt very vague.
My second problem was Paul. He had enough background to be developed into an interesting character. Sadly, Paul had about one line of dialogue thorough the book, which was : “During the Black Death, _______”. Paul is a history buff who likes to share his knowledge, and I get that; but I thought the author used him to explain what was going on, doing a lot of telling and not enough “showing”. In fact, the author does some “showing”, describing what is going on and how people are reacting, but then Paul arrives and explains it by comparing it to the Black Death… you know, just in case the reader didn’t understand by him/herself.
But it would be unfair to point out only what I didn’t enjoy : I had a good enough time reading the book and went through it in a couple of days. Apart from the mentioned before lack of information, I thought the author did a great job of describing how the world was changing, slowly, little thing by little thing. I liked that it was subtle.
Jiselle was an interesting character, too. At first a little naive, she became a strong and resourceful woman. I didn’t agree with all of her decisions (really? You’re taking in your neighbor’s wife after he just died of the flu? In a house full of kids? Really?) But she did well for herself and the kids, even when many other people would have been gone before long. In the end, I surprised myself liking her enough to care.
The kids were interesting, too. A little cliché at times, but their attitude felt true enough.The reacted like I would have expected them to in the circumstances, and I was curious to see how they would adapt to the situation. I felt really sad for them, though; I would have gladly kick their father to the far end of the universe.
I think having read Life as We Knew it before had set a very high level of comparison for me, and so it’s possible my review isn’t as objective as I would have wanted it to be. Still, I’m sure plenty of you could enjoy it, and it offers a lot to discuss, too. If you are interested in apocalyptic books, In a Perfect World should interest you; after that, I highly recommend that you try Pfeffer’s novel too.