Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
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.
In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her-everything.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book started out as an annoyance. Celestine, in the beginning, was not very likable. She was the perfect girl that you hate because she is too perfect, not one crack showing, which I understand (her society being what it is) but that doesn't stop her from being annoying.
However, there was a turning point in the novel that I think made Celestine at least a little more human, if not a much better character than she was before the event.
First, here are some problems I had before said turning point. These are the things that almost made me turn around and abandon the book.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD
1. I didn't quite believe the world set up. Using contextual clues, it seems like this world's system of identifying and punishing the Flawed citizens is only two generations old. It doesn't seem to be that far in the future. We're expected to believe that such a strict system of morality overtook this country, if not this world, in, what, 40-50 years? That seems on the extreme side and I seriously question whether it's even feasible. The Flawed system is too extreme for me to find it believable that it came into "perfect" existence that quickly.
2. Celestine was a hard character to like. Her "voice" for the first few chapters was both frustrating and interesting. She's supposed to be this character of clear cut morals, black and white decisions with no room for questions. The stilted nature of her inner thoughts and her speaking to others, her constant quoting of the dictionary and grammar corrections of others, all of these felt weird, but I could go with it because I felt like she was being portrayed as a character with some sort of extreme social awkwardness.
The event that apparently starts her questioning everything she knows and values seems rather insignificant when you consider she's been her society's version of perfection up until now. When a neighbor is taken away for being Flawed, that's apparently enough to catapult her into this state of, maybe everything I've been taught is wrong and I should figure out who to question and get to change the way things work. While yes this system is wrong, her reaction was rather extreme when you take her character into question and whether this really seems like something she would do.
3. There's a part 80% of the way through when a character named Alpha, one of Celestine's former teachers, convinces her that she'll be able to help Celestine, help her be the voice of the Flawed population. As she's explaining this charity she founded to help Flawed At Birth children, she says that the Guild, the moral body of the government, supports her because her charity will help take some of the costs off of raising the children of two Flawed parents.
However, based on everything we've been led to believe about the Guild and their laws regarding helping the Flawed (it's basically a crime, this is a contradictory statement. What she describes is supposed to be highly illegal and punishable by imprisonment. It felt like a big plot hole or at least a serious mistake on the part of the author.
4. I'm not sure if this is so much a problem as something that I think I would've like to hear more about/something that didn't get developed very well.
At the beginning of the book, Celestine is in love with Art. They've been together three months, but she's young so I can almost overlook the love of my life ideal she has going on. My problem is that his character seems to almost disappear after Celestine is accused of being Flawed. Art is mentioned just enough to remind us that he's there, but he doesn't do or mean much to the story so his "appearances" feel forced.
The other possible "love interest" in the book, Carrick, is mentioned even less that Art. Carrick is in a holding cell beside Celestine and though they never exchange a word, over the course of the rest of the book, Celestine seems to develop feelings for him and even says that she feels this strong bond with him. While they've gone through some of the same things (being found guilty of a Flaw, being branded, etc.), it felt really superficial that she would have such strong feelings for someone she has essentially never met. She spends a great part of the story looking for him after she's released from her holding, but her reasoning isn't sound.
Even with these flaws (no pun intended), I did start to appreciate and even like Celestine more after she has been branded. She shows a courage during that event that didn't seem entirely in keeping with what we knew about her previously, but I think it really jolted her into realizing that, no, things aren't going to get better just because you want them to be, because you believe in these people you idolize.
It's a bit slow at first, but she starts to become interesting. It's like she grows a spine and finds her personality. There are still some instances where she grated on me a bit. In the last 25% or so of the book she reminded me of Katniss and her journey to becoming the Mockingjay. There are a lot people that want Celestine to, essentially, be the Mockingjay for the Flawed people. She, of course, wants nothing to do with that, but she does want answers and she does want the man responsible for her extreme pain/torture to be punished.
I didn't realize that this was going to be a series when I first picked it up. I'm not unhappy that it will be. I'm not exactly happy with where the book ended because it felt a little cut off, but this might turn out to be a successful maneuver on the author's part as I definitely want to read more about Celestine and what she does next. I only hope that she doesn't turn into a Katniss doppelganger.
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