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Past Perfect by Leila Sales

Past Perfect (edition 2011)

by Leila Sales

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1652672,171 (3.88)4
Title:Past Perfect
Authors:Leila Sales
Info:Simon Pulse (2011), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library, To read, Fiction, Young Adult
Tags:TBR, fiction, YA, AZ

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Past Perfect by Leila Sales



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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Past Perfect is set in the world of historical reenactments. Not the wildly inaccurate world of renaissance/mid-evil fairs [my local annual faire has steam-punk and anime thrown in an eclectic mix of time periods.] but a rivalry between a Colonial and Civil War. The attractions have their mix of history nerds vs. actors but we're only told this happens. The focus is on when things get out of hand one summer between the teenagers of the two parks.
This novel has minimal adult involvement that you might expect from a YA novel. The parental advice comes out of Chelsea father love of hearing himself talk than actively taking notice of anything in his child's life.
None of the adults ever realise what the kids are doing even people actually get hurt. I was surprised the war never reached the adults considering how seriously they took the reenactments themselves.
This book was very fun and entertaining but I was disappointed we never met the fake Abigal Adams. Chelsea mentions in the beginning of the book that the lady took her role too seriously. I've heard stories from coworkers active in the local Renaissance faire that behave just like in this book. From actively forbidding fraternising of those they don't like or believing they are in character 24/7 not to mention cohabiting with their "queen".
I was hoping for a character like in the wonderful film "Role Models". The scene with the "king" at the burger hut kills me every time. "They eat there before every battle."
I tagged along to the faire one year and was endlessly amused but was called out for appearing "confused" by everyone. I do not belong to this world but find the larping concept fascinating.

This book often reminded me of Melina Marchetta's "Jellicoe Road" with some of the film Role Models mixed in but in a good way.
The theme of this book was Chelsea getting over the heartbreak of being dumped.
I loved how this was portrayed in the book. How you choose to interpret the past or other's intentions, emotions, etc. are the epitome of having relationships.
The analogy of the victor writing the history books was a nice touch for using the historical reenactment setting to tell this story.

My favourite part was that a character called Bryan was constantly referred to appearing like a toad. My twin sister and I have always assigned animal attributes to people.
This unfortunate kids crush on Chelsea rang very true.
The only truly negative aspect of the book was the often used pool party scene depicted. Why must this scene where lead girl borrows swim suit from rich girl feature so often? ( )
  peptastic | Nov 25, 2013 |
Sometimes there is nothing that will satisfy a reader such as myself like a good piece of sweet fluff. That is not in any way meant as an insult towards “Past Perfect” and other such books, there’s no such room for genre snobbery in my eyes. While genre fiction such as horror, romance and the romantic comedy, which is how I would classify this book, are the first to be mocked or derided, it’s worth remembering that it’s pretty damn hard to write a convincing and entertaining piece of genre fiction. Writing a romantic comedy that can use familiar tropes of the genre and remain charming and entertaining is a tough task, and I’m pleased to say that, for the most part, Leila Sales pulls it off.

The unconventional setting – a colonial village re-enactment centre - and set-up for the novel creates countless opportunities for entertainment and mayhem. Some of the funniest moments of the book come from the over-the-top and gleefully ridiculous war plans between the colonial re-enactment workers and the civil war re-enactors right across the road. It’s incredibly petty and immature but there’s something undeniably funny about Churchill war speech parodies and battle strategies that revolve around historical anachronisms. This element of the book was definitely my favourite part and I only wish more time had been dedicated to it rather than Chelsea’s love life.

While I appreciated that Sales spent some time deconstructing the rose-tinted image of her ex boyfriend that Chelsea had built up for herself, so much time is spent with Chelsea in moping mode that it became very tiresome. I think one’s mileage may vary for such scenes and will depend on the reader’s emotions towards Chelsea. I did not find her to be a particularly brilliant protagonist. She had her moments – I enjoyed her ice-cream taste testing – and I greatly appreciated her close relationship with her quirky parents and group of friends, but said moping grated on me. She also makes a couple of plot driving decisions that made me lose all sympathy for her. If I was to pick a character in the novel to follow, it would be Tawny, the general of the colonial workers in the war.

There was one element of the romance plotline that really got to me. This small rant is partly inspired by this book but is also something I’ve had on my mind for a while so please take this with a pinch of salt when considering reading this book for yourself. Dan, the primary love interest of the novel, is set up in a forbidden love style element (a “Romeo & Juliet” parallel is actually mentioned by Chelsea, but since the war between both sides spends most of its time in war parody mode, don’t take that comparison too seriously) so of course there needs to be a degree of animosity between the pair, coupled with that trademark jerk charm so common with male love interests. I’ve become rather fed up with books, mainly YA, where the male love interest is characterised by being charming when he’s really a smug know-it-all that borders on insulting. Chelsea’s often not very likeable but generally I find it difficult to believe that every teenage girl is charmed and seduced by this sort of behaviour. The fact that such behaviour is often the only defining characteristic of many male love interests is even more infuriating for me. Luckily, Dan is given more depth than this but it does make the romance between him and Chelsea harder to believe considering her own decisions.

The key to this book lies in its charm. Sales writes a well paced and often very funny book with witty observations, an interesting supporting cast to prop up a less than perfect protagonist, and a whole assortment of pranks, jokes and completely ridiculous war parodies with just a pinch of history. “Past Perfect” won’t be considered groundbreaking by any standards, and the romance angle will be read differently by different readers depending on one’s opinion of such elements, but it’s a quick read with bagfuls of charm you could have a lot of fun reading.


“Past Perfect” will be released in USA on October 4th. I received my arc from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab program.
( )
  Ceilidhann | Sep 20, 2013 |
Not your typical teen romance novel. About dueling reenactment parks with detailed characters whom I loved getting know. If you have any love for historical events and realistic love stories, then this is your next read. ( )
  StefanieGeeks | Apr 5, 2013 |
As expected, PP was a fun read. Chelsea, our main character, was funny and made some fun observations about her life in the reenactment village and her life outside of the workplace.

The only thing that particularly bothered me was the book’s unevenness. In some scenes, Chelsea hated working at Essex, and in the next she loved it. Similarly, some scenes that were dramatic…weren’t terribly dramatic (or shouldn’t have been) to me.

Those issues aside, I enjoyed PP. It would be a great summer read on a road trip with your family. The romance was cute and there were some super funny scenes. I found Chelsea’s interactions with her ex well-done, interesting and realistic.

Like I mentioned above, however, the highlight of this entire book is the crossroad of teenager meets reenactment camps/villages. The details were awesome and, as expected, the combination of the two usually led to pretty hilarious or crazy circumstances. Definitely a good read for any teen who has been dragged to one-to-many historical sites. ( )
  leftik | Apr 3, 2013 |
As someone who wants to work in an archive and preferably in a museum archive I think it is safe to say that I am a total history nerd. Take away the living museum and reenactment stuff and you have a basic girl meets boy and there are obstacles thrown in their way plotline. But the fact they work at something like Colonial Williamsburg makes it awesome.

Chelsea herself is a fairly likable character and Dan is too. Could they be a little more fleshed out? Yes. I read a lot of YA Lit last year and swore off the genre for a little while so for me to read this in two days and like it says a lot of positive things. ( )
  matamgirl | Apr 3, 2013 |
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There are only three types of kids who get summer jobs at Colonial Essex Village instead of just working at the mall, like the normal people do.
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Sixteen-year-old Chelsea knows what to expect when she returns for a summer of historical reenactment at Colonial Essex Village until she learns that her ex-boyfriend is working there, too, and then meets the very attractive Dan who works at a rival historical village.… (more)

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