25 Perfect Days - Mark Tullius, Anthony Szpak See the full review at The BiblioSanctum (co-reviewed with Wendyb!)

25 Perfect Days is a collection of twenty-five short stories all linked together in some way, each written from a different character's point of view. The book spans decades and generations, showing the decline of society into a totalitarian state where the government and a radical religion are one and the same, and overpopulation is leading to massive food shortages, congested cities and pollution. It's a scary look at how extreme measures to counter these problems can cost the people their personal freedoms.

As dystopian novels go, I thought Mark Tullius did a great job creating his disturbing vision of what could happen if a government is given too much power over its people. And usually when I read these kinds of books, the dystopia is already in place, as in whatever took place to bring the society to this state has already happened and is in the past. In 25 Perfect Days, however, we get to see an interpretation of the actual process, the slippery slope which leads to the downfall of a society. Like the book's blurb says, something like this simply doesn’t just happen overnight. It happens by degrees, and I thought the author's way of presenting the novel was a brilliant idea and also quite realistic.

Another aspect I liked about the book was its creative format, letting the story unfold over a series of short stories that each have their own focus, but are also interlinked through either events or the relationships between characters. It wasn't obvious at first, but after the first few stories, I think a bulb suddenly flashed on in my head and I understood. After that, trying to figure out the connections between the stories became an enjoyable part of the reading experience itself.

Of all the characters in the book, I think I liked Maria Salazar and her family the best. She was one of the more memorable characters, and since one of the major themes in this book is about the love and sacrifice needed to survive and overcome the tyranny, I thought the Salazars' stories were all perfect examples. One of the earlier chapters about Maria's fight to come up with the money to keep her newborn daughter was heartbreaking to read, especially for a mother. And then of course there was the story about Enrique and how he risked everything in order to procure food for his family, not to mention Vanessa Salazar, just an infant at the beginning of this book, who grows up to be a major part of the resistance along with her own child. Their family just seems to be quite central to the book.

While I liked the format with all the linked stories and the twenty-five perspectives, this also made it very hard to connect to any one character. For me, that's the most important thing to me as a reader. Like I said, there were some central characters or families that play a larger role or are more central to the overall story, but that left the more minor characters in the background. It was hard to keep track of the relationships, especially when it was a struggle to remember certain people. If it weren't for the list of characters and their connections at the end of the book, I wouldn't have been able to remember most of them on my own. I just think that in a book like this, where almost everyone and their stories are linked in some way or another, not being able to recall the details for some of them or why they're important diminishes the full effect somewhat.

Overall, 25 Perfect Days was a good read that kept me turning the pages and wondering how much worse this dystopian society could get. Though, I do think the writing could use a bit more tightening up, especially when it comes to the action scenes. Some of them were quite difficult to follow, especially when it comes to who does what and who speaks certain dialogue. Just some more description and detail into the setting and action would help me play the scenes out in my head and see them a lot clearer. Other than that, I really enjoyed this. It's nice to read a dystopian novel with elements in it that are more reminiscent of the classics.