I was eagerly awaiting this one as soon as I heard about it, such was my enjoyment of old Harold’s antics in Joyce’s previous work. Did I enjoy Perfect as much? No. No, I didn’t. Is it nevertheless as worthy of a look as Joyce’s first book? Yes. Yes it is.
Perfect is told from two perspectives and in two time periods and follows challenging periods in the lives of its two protagonists. Byron, a young lad growing up in 1972, discovers the plans of the powers-that-be to add two seconds to time, and must deal with the slow disintegration of his comfortable world after this added time causes his mother to make a terrible mistake. Jim, a middle-aged, loner tormented by mental illness, attempts to make a new life for himself on the outside after the psychiatric facility in which he has long resided, is closed and the residents discharged into the wide world.
The paths of the two seem disconnected, albeit with some parallels, until late in the book, when certain commonalities are revealed for a very satisfying ending.
As I mentioned, I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Harold Fry, but that may have been due to my high expectations. I found Perfect a little bit slower than I would have preferred, but Joyce’s characteristic turn of phrase and clever plot progression kept me hanging in. There is a nice twist toward the end of the book that I actually suspected from very early on, but this didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story at all – in fact, if anything, I felt more committed to seeing out the journey with the characters due to the gentle reveal.
In short, this was a good solid read with so much happening that one could be forgiven for feeling like they’d just finished a much longer book.