I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Cecelia Ahern has always had a knack for weaving unique, heartwarming stories with humour, charm and – on occasion – a touch of magic. For me she reinvigorated the genre of ‘chick lit’ or romantic comedy, so when I heard she was taking on a new genre – and a very popular one at that – I was so excited to see what she could do with it.
Flawed is the author’s first foray into YA dystopian. The society she creates is one striving for perfection; one where not only crimes are punished with imprisonment, but those who make moral or ethical mistakes are also held accountable and have to present their cases to the Guild. Making one error of judgement can lead to being deemed Flawed – painfully branded with an ‘F’ for all to see, and forced to live a minimalist life of isolation complete with curfews, meagre rations and judgement from others.
“Their scars as identifiers, their armbands, their limited possibilities, living in society but everything they want being just out of reach.”
Celestine is a seemingly model citizen; she gets good grades, toes the line and her boyfriend’s father is head of the Guild. Until, one day, she commits an act of compassion which not only leads her to be deemed flawed but also inadvertently a poster girl for the campaign to change.
Ahern uses no tricks or gimmicks to create her dystopian world – it’s all about the people, and it could be based in a reality no so far removed from our own. Inspired by judgements and prejudices within the real world, the story carries a powerful message about how the quest for perfection can just lead to more problems.
But in the first part of the book I found myself feeling frustrated with the concept; barely anyone seems to question the Flawed system – one which basically singles people out and isolates people for the very acts which make them human. Free will and freedom of speech seems to have all but been eradicated, and it’s only as the story progresses that we begin to learn that there are alternative views.
Ahern’s writing is – as always – on point and the world she has created become more multi-layered as things develop. But I have to admit I lost my way somewhat in the middle the story, and it felt a tad formulaic in places. The girl forced into the limelight as the face for a cause; the inevitable love triangle – all the usual elements of the YA dystopia genre are here, but there’s just nothing stand out about it and in the genre transition she loses some of the humour and charm which made her other books unique. The villain of the story feels almost pantomime at times, and I wish the motives behind his actions had been explored more.
However, the story does pick up nearer the end as Celestine learns there are others fighting the cause against the Guild. This book very much feels like it’s just the set up for something more; I don’t want to judge it too soon as the ending is very open-ended and I feel Ahern has barely begun to introduce to this alternative world. I’ll be picking up the next one to see how she will develop it next.