When I first heard that Cecelia Ahern was writing a young adult novel, I was both excited and nervous. Excited, because I’ve read and loved a good number of Ahern’s adult novels (P.S. I Love You is one of my all-time favorite chick lit novels). Nervous, because I wasn’t sure how her writing was going to hold up in a dystopian YA – a far cry in genre from her other published work. But I needn’t have worried overly much. Ahern’s novel Flawed was a pleasant surprise, inasmuch as a novel about a society with a brutal set of rules and strict disciplinary sanctions can be.
Flawed is the story of a girl named Celestine North, the perfect citizen in a society that tolerates no flaws. She lives an idyllic life – a secure home, loving family, good grades at school, a reputation for obedience and a boyfriend she’s head over heels in love with. But everything changes when she makes a decision that breaks all of the societal rules she’s grown up with. Celestine starts to realize that there may be a more brutal reality underneath the veneer of perfection in the society she lives in. The more she discovers, the more she questions the things she’s always known – and her life takes an unexpected turn.
I don’t read very many dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels anymore. I’d read so many of them back-to-back-to-back in one year that I had tired of stories that read too similarly. So, it was with a less wearied eye that I turned my gaze on Flawed, and I’m pleased to say it read unlike anything I’d ever encountered before. Ahern’s world is one where perfection is seen as the most important thing. If you do one thing wrong, you’re immediately tried in front of judges and sentenced to be branded as flawed. It might be a simple concept, but reading about it was terrifying – brutal sanctions, questionable choices and a society that was completely flawed in their efforts to stay perfect.
I liked how much Ahern made me think. There are many ramifications to having an appointed set of people in power, particularly as all people are inherently flawed in that they are susceptible to corruption. The circumstances she portrayed also brought to mind the differences between people, and what responses people are capable of having when it comes to them. And then, there is the consequence of choosing to do the right thing, even if it’s not what society would deem as the correct course of action. Since I genuinely appreciate books that make my brain work, you can imagine how pleased I was to see that Ahern had written that type of story.
Even though my reaction to both the setting and the themes is quite positive, I certainly had reservations about this story. I wasn’t overly fond of the narration, as Celestine had this way of thinking that would jar me out of the story inadvertently. While I understand that it was fitting for her character, it personally just didn’t work. I also had issues with the secondary characters (and how underutilized many of them were), the romantic plot (which felt like a last minute addition, if we’re being honest) and with how this novel ends. Still, in spite of all these things, I liked Flawed much more than I expected to. (And I think that I’m just curious enough to pick up Perfect, the sequel which comes out in 2017.)
What's the scariest dystopian society you've ever read about?
Honestly, I'm going to have to with a classic and tell you that the society in The Hunger Games series terrifies me. I can't imagine having experienced years of being afraid that I would be drafted to compete for my own survival, and I don't think I could stomach the idea of murdering people as innocent as I am in all this.
Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
Series: Flawed #1
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends | Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Source: ARC from publisher (Thanks!)
Celestine North lives a perfect life. She's a model daughter and sister, she's well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she's dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan. But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.