I would like to thank Net Galley and the publisher, Harper Collins UK, Children’s, for my copy of ‘Flawed’ by Cecilia Ahern in exchange for my review.
I am not going to lie – I am a good few years past the age of YA and I’m not entirely sure I ever was one when I was of age. And maybe therein lies the reason for my mixed feelings about this book. I am not sure if I loved it or hated it. If I was intrigued or frustrated by it. Perhaps that in itself is a good reason why this book will likely be a real success.
Set in a society where perfection is the only option, where people who by their actions or mistakes are deemed ‘flawed’ and are branded as such and spurned and vilified by society, this is the story of Celestine North, a seemingly perfect and obedient teenager who lives and breathes the code of ‘The Guild’. One simple, misguided act sees Celestine fall fowl of the rules and her failure to acknowledge her mistake sees her facing the harshest punishment ever given, unwittingly making her the poster girl for those who would see the reign of the Guild brought to an end.
As I have already stated, I have mixed feelings about this book. The nature of the punishment meted out upon Celestine is particularly harsh and the very way in which it is delivered and presided over by Judge Crevan, a man who Celestine once held in such high regard, makes it feel almost like a violation of the worst kind. It is graphic, more so that I would have expected in a YA story, and I will admit made me feel a little uncomfortable and uncertain about reading on. Perhaps this was the intent, but I was certainly unsure what to expect after this scene.
I did read on and to be fair, this was the hardest part of the book, the remainder of it being about the impact upon Celestine’s life and the building of the conspiracy theory about the league of people out to bring Crevan down and the team of self-appointed ‘Flawed’ who wish to see a change in the rules but are not as brave as Celestine has shown herself to be as to stand up publicly and risk being named flawed.
It is perhaps this element of the conspiracy that I struggle with the most as I don’t like conspiracy theory type tales. They get on my pip. However, this is not just about conspiracy and while Celestine did come across as spoilt and annoyingly perfect at first, it is this which makes her fall from grace all the more shocking. However, her self-pity over a failed romance with Judge Crevan’s son, while all the while she is thinking of another boy, one she met while in the cells, is a little irritating and would, if she were real, make me want to slap her. Hard.
There were times where I wanted to skip ahead and times where I was engrossed in the story. It is, in many ways, a metaphor for modern life, where perfection is still sought by nearly everyone, where pills, creams and tummy tucks are the norm as people strive to be what they are not naturally. It is a glimpse of what our future could be if we cannot accept the differences in humanity and understand that not being perfect, and choosing to not live up to someone else’s high moral code rather than our own, is perfectly okay.
I am unsure right now if I would read the next instalment of this story. Part of me is intrigued to know what happens, how Celestine survives, if she ever reunites with the mysterious Carrick. Part of me already knows the answer to all of the above and more. The baddy is going to get what is coming, Celestine will find love where she least expects it and nothing is ever going to taste the same again …