by Cecelia Ahern2 out of 5
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.
Celestine is the epitome of perfection, with genes from beautiful parents; a flawless school report; a very eligible boyfriend; and a quiet, respectful attitude. So something must be very wrong in society if she is about to become the most Flawed person in history.
I was very interested to read Ahern's first jaunt into YA, and received this copy from Netgalley.
This whole book is Flawed.
The YA side of things is actually OK, and I hope that Ahern writes more for a teenage audience.
What didn't work for me at all was the dystopian setting. The premise is that, after all the banks and politicians have screwed us over (sounds familiar), there is an initiative to remove Flawed people from power and improve the population.
Flawed people are not criminals, they have not done anything against the law; they are people that have acted foolishly, or made bad choices. So they are trialled by a separate court, and if they are found to be guilty they are branded, so all the good, pure people out there can avoid them.
An interesting idea in theory, but the execution left a lot to be desired.
With the prejudice, bullying, neglect, violence towards the Flawed, you get the feeling that they are treated worse than actual criminals. Even before they are judged as Flawed or innocent, they are treated with hate and abuse from the mob. The audience is full of innocent people who come, partly for entertainment, but mainly as an over-pious mass that throw things and curses because a person might be flawed.
My main questions:
Why does everybody have such an ingrained hatred of the Flawed, when this initiative has only been in place for the last twenty years?
How can all those horrid people be considered innocent, with all the vile things they openly do to the Flawed?
I struggled to get into the book and follow the story, as every page turned, I was struck anew with how much of a bloody over-reaction it all was. I found it hard work to believe this world and these rules that Ahern has created. There was very little logic involved; which is ironic, because logic is one of the main character's most praised features.
Getting onto our dear main character, Celestine. I think she can be summed up in three words.
Celestine. Does. Nothing.
She is a little bland, as some other reviewers have mentioned, which I don't mind so much. What annoys me is that Celestine does nothing, yet everything happens around her.
She spends the first 150 pages musing about the meaning of perfect and flawed, and what clothes to wear, and when she will see her boyfriend Art again. She goes through the whole court proceeding with a wide-eyed innocence and detachment. BUT, outside her little bubble, the media are being driven into a frenzy by this perfect princess being the unlikely flawed evilness. Powerful people are already trying to spin it to their advantage and use her as a poster girl for their own agendas.
Celestine goes quietly through the court and (despite the fact that Judge Crevan says she should twist the truth) she tells the complete truth. Not out of defiance, but because that is what has been drilled into her her whole life, and it's almost an automated reaction. BUT Judge Crevan goes a little power crazy and sentences her to multiple brands, so she is the most branded person in history.
Celestine stays at home, she thinks of rather dull things and meekly learns her new life. BUT the paparazzi stalk her at school and home, and the whole world is going crazy like she's the new celebrity fad. They even sink so low as to try and get leg shots of her mum and sister when they leave the house...
Even when Celestine is treated badly by old school friends, in some scenes that some may find distressing, she doesn't do anything. She doesn't shout or scream; she doesn't fight; nothing.
The rest of the characters are all decent enough. I wish Celestine's brother and sister got a little more time. Ewan might as well not exist. Juniper is pretty cool, but I just didn't get how she hated her twin sister for being so perfect - then when that brainwashed perfect sister does an actual good thing and gets punished for it - Juniper treats her worse.
I'm not sure whether I'll continue with the series. I'm a little intrigued, but very frustrated.