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Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

By 23:19:00 , , , ,

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. 

(Synopsis from Goodreads)

✱ Pages: 400 (hardcover)
✱ Publication date: 24 March in the UK/5 April 2016 in the US
✱ Provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

This is Cecelia Ahern's first YA novel so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. It took the first 50 pages or so, but Flawed ended up winning me over. The writing is solid, the premise interesting, and despite some issues I had it's impossible not to root for Celestine.

The dystopian world of Flawed

Just the promise of a dystopian future tends to be something I'm likely to pick up. Dystopia scares me, excites me, and makes me feel strongly for the characters. What's there not to like?

The world-building in Flawed is interesting. People who are found morally lacking can be put on trial and branded with an F on their temple, tongue, chest, hand, or foot. This is strictly outside the legal system but people abide to it as if it's the law. I've heard some opinions on the premise being shaky and that it's difficult to imagine that we'd start branding people as Flawed... But I'm convinced that humanity is insanity and so anything could happen.

The characters - especially Celestine

I think the problem I had with this was the way the world was introduced - by the protagonist, Celestine. It didn't pull me in because mostly the beginning focuses on Celestine's thoughts: we're stuck inside her head and her world views which are obviously those of a 17-year-old who has been raised in this culture. I think it's entirely possible we're supposed to dislike her a bit. You know, the way you're supposed to dislike Jane Austen's Emma just a little, so you can really appreciate how she changes and learns over the course of the story? I think that's how this played out for me.

I also think that I'm just too different from Celestine, so it was difficult to step in her shoes, even though I felt so much sympathy for her. She's logical, thinks of things on very black-and-white terms, she's the perfect daughter. By branding her Flawed, we are shown a society where one person can be found morally lacking because of an act of compassion, leading to the rest of the people around her seeming uncaring and unfeeling. It's quite horrifying, really.

The minor characters too had the tendency to surprise me - by having personality and by changing over the course of the story because we learned more about them. There were a few that I really liked - especially Carrick who speaks two sentences in the duration of the book (but then I like him because he's mysterious). The main antagonist here isn't quite as interesting as I hoped, but he is scary.

Themes of family and society

Probably the most intriguing aspect of the book for me is the effects of the branding and becoming Flawed, not just from an individual perspective, but from that of the wider populace - I hope we'll see more of this in the next book as well. The politics of the entire situation actually interest me, as does the history of the branding. The effects of Celestine being found Flawed obviously has implications and consequences for her family as well, and I enjoyed seeing how that affected their relationships.
Ultimately, Flawed is a thought-provoking take on a girl's journey of understanding her own imperfections and embracing them - regardless of what the society says is acceptable or not. There's a second book set to be published in March 2017, but I feel like Flawed wasn't the first in a series (or a duology as I think is the plan?) but more like half a story. I suppose I wanted more of a conclusion because it really does feel like we've only just set up the stage for the real story.
What do you think - will you give it a go? Have you read Cecelia Ahern before?


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