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 where 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 her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her-everything
Celestine lives in a world obsessed with perfection. Anyone makes a choice that does not fit with the strict guidelines of society is publicly ostracized, branded, and forced to live by an even more confining set of rules. Celestine has always supported the Flawed system as the only way to maintain a safe and just world. However, she she herself is targeted for an act she thought of as logical, she begins to see through her own blind faith and to discover how flawed the system truly is.
Celestine does not begin as a sympathetic character. She is steadfast in her support of The Guild and, at its head, Judge Crevan - her boyfriend's father. She sees the world as black and white and trusts that if the guild deems someone flawed, it is because they are a risk to society. Once she is thrown into the system herself, she is finally able to see the fear and abuse of power that has surrounded her, her whole life. Her character development is my favorite part of the novel as she embarks on a fantastic path of personal growth.
The world Ahern has created is one that all too chillingly possible. It is easy to imagine the religious fanaticism that could lead to a system similar to the Flawed one, in the hopes of returning society to the nostalgic notions of the past. It is also just as easy to see how this system can be manipulated by a man like Judge Crevan, for whom ultimate power has allowed the ability to dispose of his rivals and naysayers while also placing his own family members into positions of high esteem. The Crevan that the world sees is a very different one than is revealed through Celestine's acts of defiance.
While the story is truly one of personal growth, Ahern did not shy away from action and there are some truly shocking moments. I did enjoy the plot itself, however, the ending was not quite as satisfying as I would have liked. No secrets huge secrets are revealed, no problems are solved. A number of storylines are set up and sure to be fleshed out within the second book, we just have to wait for it.
Bottom Line: A great intro into a new series with some chilling scenes and great character development.
By Cecelia Ahern I had only read The Book of Tomorrow, a magical book that combined a great deal of mystery with the beauties of Irish nature. Lovely! I never dived into her literature though, romance is not really my jam but dystopia is and when I saw that she wrote one I got curious. Authors stepping out from their comfort zone are very brave and I wanted to see how she managed that.
The story in this book is quite simple but its implications are rather important. The summary of it says that it has got a Scarlet Letter vibe to it and that's true. We find ourselves in this society that has faced some serious bad judgement at the hands of previous politicians and to avoid such things to happen in the future a new organization rises, the Guild. The Guild is like the police but not really, they punish those who commit acts not punishible with prison (such as lying, cheating or *coughs* speaking up agains the Guild itself) by marking with fire the skin of the convict with the letter F, F for "Flawed". Flawed people are deemed inferior parts of the society, they are snarled at, crimes against them are usually swept under the carpet, they've got strict rules to abide to (such as a curfew, a very poor diet, having to wear a bandage that points out they're flawed at any time of the day etc) and have very poor prospects for their future. All of this because the Guild has brainwashed the citizenship into believing that dealing with flawed people will make you flawed and we no, no, don't want that, do we?
Our main character is Celestine, the Perfectest girl that has ever Perfect in Perfectland, she doesn't miss a chance to remind us of that. She wears pastel colors, she's got an awesome boyfriend, she respects the rules, agrees with what the Guild does, is a very logical person, black and white, that's how you take decisions in life (another thing she needs to remind us every 3 pages). One day she commits a tiny little mistake, a situation she faces creates a little crease in the way she sees the society that she has respected for so long. She starts to think, critically think, and, because of a series of events and situations she didn't have the power to avoid, becomes the poster-girl for this seemingly underground movement that is trying to dethrone the Guild and its main responsable, Judge Crevan. Judge Crevan is a male Umbridge. I said it all.
Celestine is a relatable character, she's an average teenager (although Perfect, do not forget that!) that is pushed into a game of political deceit and media manipulation. How would you handle that? She's so average that sometimes you just hate her, we're so used to our heroines that always know what to do and that always manage to save the day that we're not used to normal people who struggle through a match that is not theirs.
"I often think you're cleverer than you let on, and other times I think you're a child who has found herself in a situation that is so much bigger than she and has no idea what to do."
But is it? Celestine finds herself going "against the grain", she didn't intend to but she did. Her behaviour in the beginning is driven by guilt not bravery but later on she understands she's got more power than she can possibly imagine, a power that feeds a movement that cannot freely speak up and that doesn't really have much representation.
"We see being Flawed as a strenght, Celestine. If you make a mistake, you learn from it. If you never make a mistake, you're never the wiser."
I really enjoyed this book. Was it flawed? Yes it was, but what book isn't? I read people pointing out that the pattern of it mirrors the pattern of every YA that's coming out lately, the Chosen One that will save the world, but I disagree. Celestine is not the Chosen One, she's just someone who did something out of humanity in a society that has been "dehumanized" long ago.
"I want everybody's pity because then I will know that everyone is human, instead of whatever it is everybody is now."
She becomes a pawn in the hands of other people and later on decides to embrace it. I found her very inspiring, although many of her decisions were rather questionable and stupid.
I also read that people couldn't suspend their belief when it came to people willingly accepting a form of governament that punishes and shames you over trifles and I can agree with that. Still, I'm a simple girl, I can live with some kind of absurdity if I find its outcome interesting.
I would have preferred a more thrilling finale but nonetheless I enjoyed this book.
I'd recommend it to those of you who love dystopias that deal with media manipulation, who love dystopias dealing with what 1984 deals with. No, I'm not comparing it to Orwell's masterpiece, I'm referring to the fear of speaking up, to the fear of being seen or heard doing something that would be deemed "flawed" by the Big Br... hem, the Guild. Say what you will but I stupidly love that!
Cannot wait for the second instalment in the series!