The Worst Perfect Moment / Shivaun Plozza / Book Review


What if you never meant enough to anyone to be missed forever? This is what scares you the most about being dead, because you think your value is determined by the size of the hole you left behind.

Tegan Masters is dead. She's sixteen, she's dead, and she's stuck in the Marybelle Motor Lodge
AKA the worst motel in all of New Jersey and the site of her worst memory ever. At the front desk, Tegan meets Zelda, a teenage angelwings and allready to welcome her to the afterlife. AKA the Marybelle Motor Lodge. AKA what Zelda has determined to be the happiest moment in Tegan's life.

Tegan knows this is a mistake. There's no way what led up to the Marybelle
and what happened while she was thereis the happiest memory she has. But Zelda won't listen to Tegan's concerns. When Tegan lodges a complaint with Zelda's higher-ups, she accidentally kicks off a whole investigationan investigation through her own best and worst memories. And as much as Tegan has accepted her death, she might not be ready for this.



This book was delightful and sad and wonderful and melancholyin other words, a real mix of emotions. Though it isn't perfect, it's a thought-provoking look at mortality and what comes after we die. I adored dropping into this little pocket of memory and distilled human experience.


Smart Ass Angel I adored the character of Zelda, who is supposed to be a sort of angel guide to this afterlife but is, really, just a grumpy teenage desk clerk. She adds some attitude, some life and vibrancy, to this melancholic space in the afterlife. This sets a quirky sort of tone, and her banter adds levity to the book that wouldn't otherwise be all that lighthearted. The growing chemistry between Zelda and Tegan, too, is just so much fun to watch unfold.

Melancholic, Bland Afterlife There are no pearly gates and streets of gold in this afterlife. This afterlife is a rundown motel in the middle of nowhere, and as unfortunate as that is for Tegan, I can appreciate what that adds to the story: a sort of blank canvas, a neutral space for Tegan's life and memories to unfold. I also appreciate that this isn't a book where a character discovers they've died and then has to reckon with that discovery. Tegan knows that she's dead from the start. Does that mean she's okay with that fact? Absolutely not--especially since her afterlife is a rundown motel. But the reckoning here comes with a dive into Tegan's memories--into what life she did manage to live--and not in reconciling the fact that she is, you know, six feet under.

Character Development Shivaun Plozza absolutely nails the character development in this book. Both Tegan and Zelda make a strong entrance in the first chapter, and they stay true to these characters while also adapting, changing, bonding, and reconciling hopes and dreams with a more down-to-earth reality. The rough edges, desires, and aspirations of both of these girls are both bittersweet and beautiful. I adored getting to know them as well as watching them get to know each other--and reconcile with their individual lots in this (after)life.


I really don't like a book that revolves around miscommunication, and luckily, that's not at all what happens here. There's no miscommunication; there's just a general lack of communication. And I get that part of this lack of communication is Zelda's character. Part of it is Heaven's whole schtick. And it really is meant to be frustrating. That's part of the plot. But boy was it frustrating at times! Even if it serves a purpose, I still hate being frustrated, you know? Communication Skills

As much as I adored these characters and their individual trajectories, there were times when their edgy/voice-y dialogue just didn't quite stick the landing. Like Tegan's reliance on the insult "dickcheese." I mean, I guess points for creativity, but it felt a little... out of place, to be honest. Dialogue

As much as I enjoyed the funky bureaucratic system of this heavenly afterlife, I did feel that the unusual setup diminished the impact a little. If we're really going to dive into a consideration of the morality of, well, morality--of who gets into heaven, what heaven looks like, and eternal systems of punishment and reward--I find the impact is always stronger when the initial concept of "heaven" is one that is, well, familiar. Plozza's afterlife is something new--and something really not that great. So it makes sense that Tegan would push back against being stuck in a mediocre motel for all of eternity, but this sort of fight against Heaven lacks a bit of punch when it isn't a fight against, well, an established sort of heavenly rule system. It's a good fight and a just one. But it isn't a fight against anybody's actual conception of heaven. Dwindling Impact



Fans of Akemi Dawn Bowman's The Infinity Courts will like this dive into an unsettlingly new sort of afterlife, full of unexpected rules and unfortunate realities. Those who enjoyed battling with the questions of eternity raised by NBC's The Good Place will like this new dive into a not-quite-right afterlife.


Publisher: Holiday House
Date: May 14, 2024
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. Zelda does sound like a memorable character, and it's certainly an interesting premise. I sure wouldn't want to get stuck at some Motor Lodge for all of eternity. ;D

  2. It sounds like you had quite the emotional rollercoaster with this book! The mix of delight and sadness, along with the exploration of mortality and the afterlife, sounds intriguing. Zelda seems like a standout character, adding humor and vibrancy to the melancholic setting. And the character development sounds well-executed, with Tegan and Zelda evolving throughout the story. It's a shame about the frustrating lack of communication, but it seems like it serves a purpose in the plot.

  3. It's been a while since I read a Plozza book. Loved the two I did read. Afterlife books can be interesting and definitely thought provoking. So glad you enjoyed this one!

  4. What an interesting premise for a book.

  5. I loved your review as usual ER! What a unique premise for a book!

  6. Awesome review, lovely! This is definitely not my type of read personally, but I appreciate the more unglamorous version of the afterlife portrayed here. So glad you enjoyed it! :)

  7. Rundown motel, well that does sort of suck. But it does make for an interesting concept

  8. Sounds interesting. Good to hear you liked it.

  9. I do love the sound of this one - it's a very unique type of plot and I love when a story makes you feel a whole mix of emotions!


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