The stunning YA debut from internationally bestselling author 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 in which 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 this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.
Kat’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
***I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book for my honest review & I thank the publishers Harper Collins NZ***
This book was a bit slow going at first, but boy I was hooked when it got a third of the way through, well basically from when Celestine goes from being the ‘Perfect’ girl that society now expects.
This story is based in a fictional Dystopian state where a Highland Castle dominates the city, Where Judge and Jury sit. Where strict rules apply and the Guild enforce, they have become more powerful than the government of the land, and everyone is under their surveillance, break one rule and you will be punished by being branded with the letter ‘F’ For Flawed. This reminded me of the book ‘The Scarlet Letter where the heroine was made to wear the Scarlett Letter A for Adultery.
The branding location depends on their error of judgment;
for example on your right-hand means ‘Theft from Society’; for lying it’s their tongue; for disloyalty it’s over their heart and for stepping out of line with society, its on the sole of their right foot. – Barbaric and obviously used to cause fear and compliance.
This is where the basis of this story grows, of what happens when a governing body gets too much power, grows so big that the Government it works for no longer controls it, and are the body who were brought in to ensure that honesty and integrity were upheld in society, ultimately become the monster they were trying to eradicate.
I would like to touch on this first before I get to the actual characters and the events that unfold when Celestine gets on that bus…
You can’t describe in minute detail how a society runs or how their laws were put in place without any discourse from the people that it effects, but I saw a few comments when researching this series when asked if I would like to review, and although they are entitled to their opinions, I feel like the world that Ms. Ahern created could quite easily come into being, people have been and are subjugated and oppressed throughout the world.
Ms. Ahern’s world of the flawed brought up memories of the Apartheid and when we got to the way the children were treated it reminded me of the Stolen Generation where the Australian government stole the children of the indigenous people between 1910 until 1970, 60 years of trying to indoctrinate their beliefs, on institutionalising innocent children, all under the noses of ‘Respectable people’ who thought it was a good thing, but in reality it was a horrendous thing to do to children. So thats my take on that, and I think this book does a good job in showing what humans are possible of doing, whether in fear or ignorance.
Onto the characters:
Celestine, thought she was perfect, and I must admit, she was boringly Stepford at the very beginning, she saw everything in black and white, right and wrong and no in between, and I found that her Sister Juniper was much more interesting because she spoke up and asked questions – and this reason was why Celestine felt her slightly older sister was on a slippery slope heading for being branded as ‘Flawed’. The sisters are beautiful, dark eyes, long curly hair from their mixed heritage. Celestine is all ‘pastels’ and Juniper is the opposite with her black clothing, but they look alike.
BUT One moment of compassion, of ‘doing the right thing’ will turn Celestine’s world upside down.
this scene was very moving the author wrote it in a way that was really in character to her ‘logical law abiding’ personality, Celestine sees an imbalance, and she tries to correct it, but soon learns that the world is more complicated than she ever imagined.
OK onto the male characters, we first meet Art, blonde hair, blue eyes, the perfect boyfriend for our perfect Celestine, Then there is ‘Bosco’ or as the rest of the community know Art’s father as, Judge Crevan who is one of the top judges who decide if you are Flawed.
When one person has power and no accountability there is a chance they will corrupt that power and Judge Crevan is a spectacular example of this, his sudden about turn from jovial friend and father of her boyfriend Art to becoming a power-mad dictator. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Ahern has in store or him in book 2 – Perfect
Then we have Carrick, the brooding, muscle-bound bad boy who Celestine meets in the cells of the Guild holding area, Clear cells where you are on display 24/7 – a nice touch to make a prisoner feel anxious of their impending verdict.
I really did not see a ‘Love Triangle’ it’s more that Celestine builds a bond through shared experiences, whether this leads onto a relationship in book 2 of the duology we will have to see.
Now to the bits that have struck a cord within me,
“He is a police officer whom I once trusted, admired, felt protected by….I learned this at school. I learned all this. Why doesn’t he know these rules I was taught, that he was surely taught, too? Why doesn’t anybody in the real world do what we’re taught?”
Actually, the bus scene and this one above reminded me of the struggles that hit the 50’s and the Civil rights movement.
but for the one that I stuck a post-it note under was this one; As I feel this quite often:
Sometimes I’ll read a sentence and it will make me sit up, jolt me, because it is something that I have recently felt but never said out loud. I want to reach into the page and tell the character that I understand them, that they are not alone, that I am not alone, that its okay to feel like this
The worst scene was the ‘party’ scene, but it reflected how even in their supposedly perfect world, teenagers will always pick on the weakest and if they have parents in power, get away with it.
All in all this is a good Dystopian book that has a lot of messages for the young… I enjoyed reading it.
About the Author
Cecelia Ahern is the author of the international bestsellers PS, I Love You; Love, Rosie; If You Could See Me Now; There’s No Place Like Here; Thanks for the Memories; The Gift; The Book of Tomorrow; and The Time of My Life. Her books are published in forty-six countries and have collectively sold more than sixteen million copies. The daughter of the former prime minister of Ireland, she lives in Dublin.