* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Release Date: March 24th 2016
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
I’ve not read anything by Cecelia Ahern before, though I’ve heard of some of her books. I was intrigued by the concept of this one when I saw it on NetGalley – who doesn’t love a bit of dystopian YA?
What I enjoyed about this dystopia was its similarities to real life. This made it easy to understand: while there was obviously different elements in the society that made it clearly dystopian, there was also a lot that was familiar too – school, mobiles, trashy TV etc.
There was a fair amount of information thrown in at the start but it didn’t feel too infodumpy and I was intrigued to learn about the society, which separates people who are deemed ‘Flawed’ from the others who are not. I liked that the lead up to how the society was formed is quite clear and, while unlikely to ever happen, it still seemed logical and plausible – I’ve struggled with other books, such as the Divergent series, where the idea just seemed too ridiculous to go along with.
Celestine, our protagonist, is perfect to everyone around her and thoroughly believes in the Guild who judge people accused of being Flawed. Things change very quickly though when (minor spoilers ahead, sorry!) she helps a Flawed person on the bus and is accused of being Flawed herself.
Celestine often repeats how she is a mathematician and how all her actions are defined by logic. Her helping the Flawed person was logical to her, and she couldn’t see what was wrong with that. This helps to understand her actions sometimes when they might have appeared silly or obvious mistakes before. Still, there were a few times when even this logical approach didn’t convince me that her actions were realistic. (Another minor spoiler) The party with Logan, for example, just screamed trap to me, and I couldn’t believe she wasn’t in the least bit suspicious.
A couple of things I didn’t like – the instant attraction/connection with Carrick. It just felt like too much insta-love, even if the l-word wasn’t really used, and also like it could be setting up a dreaded love triangle. I also didn’t like the way she was being set up to be some kind of revolution leader/face of the resistance/poster child for various people, a la the Mockingjay etc. It just felt a bit cliche, and I’d love to just focus on her personal story rather than have someone take a society down again.
Still, I flew through this book and enjoyed it immensely. It’s really gripping, beautifully written with some horrifying moments too. I can’t wait for the sequel, Perfect, which comes out next year.