Review: Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch

(Perfected, #2)
By: Kate Jarvik Birch
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: Dec. 1, 2015
Genre: Dystopian YA


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…



Tarnished picks up shortly after Perfect ends. Ella was able to successfully make it over the Canadian border but unfortunately Penn wasn’t as lucky. While she’s loathing the safe house for pets that she’s in, Penn’s back under the clutches of his father/her owner. Unable to be away from Penn, Ella breaks out of her “prison” where she meets up with another pet from the U.S. The two of them cross the border back to the states in order for Ella to be reunited with her love. However, their journey isn’t as easy as that. First they need to get across the border, lay low while getting money to cover food and shelter, and then get in contact with Penn, all without anyone spotting them.

Needless to say, I had a big problem with Ella in this installment. I could understand her naivety in Perfected because she was a newly purchased pet. She knew nothing but the kennel and training facility that she was raised in. However, she’s spent time as a pet under the ownership of a not so great man. She’s learned that her life as a pet isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. Which is why she did everything she could to get out of there. So, when she’s able to escape that horrible place and is instead in a community home for pet refugees, why does she insist on going back? She risks everything to escape the US only to go back because of love. :\ I just didn’t understand her logic.

I liked that Tarnished has more of a plot than just “the life of a pet”. We get a behind the scenes look of how the pets come to be and what happens to the imperfect pets when they are brought into the world. Plus, we follow Ella and her friend as they hide out in the black market for pets–a place where for a price you can rent a pet for whatever purpose or purchase a previously owned pet. There was so much going on that is brought to life that I was pretty much horrified the entire book and yet unable to put the book down.

While I liked that the author continued to push the envelope on touchy subjects, I just didn’t fully buy into the story. Ella was a bit all over the place and it was hard to follow her mood swings, let alone understand the insane choices she made. I didn’t fully buy into her and Penn’s love story, nor did I think it was realistic that she’d rush back to the US to be with him. Let alone that another pet would accompany her on that mission and put herself in horrific scenarios in order to help Ella achieve her goal of getting to Penn. I just didn’t understand it all. While I really enjoyed Perfected, Tarnished left me unsure. The characters and plot seemed all over the place and in the end I don’t think I will be continuing with this series.


1favequote“Our whole lives, we had been bred to give. Now it was time to start taking.”


Previous reviews from Perfected



5 Thoughts on “Review: Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch

  1. Hope your next read is more to your liking. I haven’t read this series, but I’d think she’d not want to go back too o_O

  2. Sorry to hear that you didn’t completely buy into

  3. Sigh! I hadn’t heard of this series and it was sounding good but now that I’ve seen your review maybe I won’t check it out. That cover is breathtaking though.

    • The first book is awesome! And in my opinion could have easily ended there with an epilogue ending or something. Definitely give the first book a try though.

  4. I really enjoyed the first book – but it sounds to me like Ella pretty much undoes what happened in book one in book two – I’m still pretty stoked to check it out!!!

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