Synopsis adapted from Goodreads: When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?
Synopsis (adapted from Goodreads:) The sisters have been manipulated and controlled by the Keane Foundation for years, trapped in a never ending battle for survival. Now they have found allies who can help them truly escape. After faking her own death, Annie has joined a group that is plotting to destroy the Foundation. And Fia is working with James Keane to bring his father down from the inside. But Annie's visions of the future can't show her who to trust in the present. And though James is Fia's first love, Fia knows he's hiding something. The sisters can rely only on each other - but that may not be enough to save them.My (mini) take: I think this book has the same strengths and weaknesses as the first, and if (like me) you liked Mind Games, you'll enjoy Perfect Lies.
What I enjoyed: the snappy dialogue, appealing characters, great sisterly bond. I was also thrilled that this book is much more about Annie.
What I wished: I didn't have time to re-read Mind Games and needed more memory-jogging reminders about the secondary characters. Since these books are so short (230-ish pages each) it might have been a good idea to just meld them into one, or publish them in quicker succession. The way the time frame jumped around in Perfect Lies was distracting at first. I tried to keep track, but eventually I just stopped bothering. I still find that the sparseness of the writing style (very little description or worldbuilding) makes the book feel unmoored in reality at times.
Recommended for: fans of the first book; readers who love non-linear narratives and/or twisty, plot-driven stories.
Source: Thanks to Walker Books for allowing me to read an advanced e-copy of this book.
Mini-synopsis (adapted from Goodreads:) When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, "miserable" doesn't even begin to cover it.The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real... until she breaks up with him. For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She's determined to change his mind, and when they're stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance.My (mini) take: Bright Before Sunrise is one of those "one night changes everything" stories. I normally LOVE those stories -- books like Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn, or The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.
I found Brighton hard to get a grasp on. Superficially, she's perfect, and while the book suggests that there might be a more interesting and real person under there, I never felt like I got to see that person. The big issue for me with Jonah is that he already has a girlfriend from his old school. The synopsis says she "breaks up with him," but here's the thing: that leaves out a LOT. His girlfriend is hurt and suspicious because he won't bring her into his fancy new life and I couldn't blame her for dumping him.
In my favorite "Happens In One Night" stories, I delight in seeing two characters who are ready for love, characters who think they are absolutely wrong for each other when it's obvious to the reader that their coupledom is oh-so-right. For me, the "happened in one night" premise of Bright Before Sunrise didn't work with these particular characters. Watching a guy break up with his girlfriend and take up with a new girl -- all during a twelve-hour period -- didn't strike a romantic chord with me. But I enjoyed the author's writing style and will definitely try her future books!
Recommended for: readers who love "happened in one night" stories but don't have the same persnickity issues that I do :)
Next Wednesday I'll be featuring mini-reviews of The Secret Diamond Sisters, Better Off Friends and Fire & Flood.