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Flawed by Cecelia Ahern - Review

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Where did I get it? I requested it on NetGalley so thank you very much Harper Collins!
What's it about? Celestine is the perfect middle daughter in an unidentified country which seemed a lot like America in its societal values, but Celestine called her mother Mum, so I'm not sure where it was supposed to be set. She's a model student and her boyfriend is the son of one of the highest judges in the country. 
Judge Crevan is one of the Guild, who judge people on whether or not they're Flawed. A Flawed act isn't necessarily a criminal act - and in fact in this society criminals serve their punishments and are then let free to live amongst society. A Flawed person is found guilty of an immoral or unethical act and is then branded for life with an F in a circle. Where they get branded depends on their act, but they must also wear a red armband and they aren't allowed into positions of power. 
Celestine is on a bus when she witnesses two unflawed women sit in the Flawed seats. An old man, a Flawed, gets on and begins having a coughing fit. Celestine steps in, asking the women to move, even though aiding a Flawed is a criminal act. She's arrested and taken to the castle, where she's accused of being Flawed herself. I won't say anymore as it'll be spoilery. 
To start with, I was enjoying this book. I felt like it was an interesting premise and I haven't read any dystopia in ages. At the very beginning there's a bit of an info dump about the society and how it works, but it didn't drag too much. But after Celestine's arrest I felt like the action slowed too much and after about halfway through, very little actually happened. This is the first book, so while it does sort of stand alone, there's obviously more to come and I felt that was to the detriment of this novel, which is a shame. It's a quick read, though, so if it is your type of thing the whole series might be. I might not bother with the next one, though.
The characters were slightly one dimensional, and I felt like there were too many of them to fully care about. While the descriptions of the Castle were great, there wasn't too much other description of the world, which didn't help with setting the novel. 
I suppose I didn't really understand why the Flawed were so badly treated. There's quite a bit in the novel as to how it started (which seems to have been with the recent global economic crash) and how that meant that unethical decisions were terrible, but the fact is that (as is shown at least twice) people can make what appear to be unethical decisions in order to do the right thing for themselves or someone they care about. I suppose this novel would be a good way to get a reader to think about that kind of thing. 
There's echoes within the novel of the black Civil Rights Movement (for example the designated spaces on the bus) and of the rise of anti-semitism in Europe (the red arm bands). This would be a good way of getting readers to think about that, too. 
I read PS I Love You by Ahern about ten years ago, not long after it came out and before the film was made. I liked it, but I've never sought out anything else by her. This is her first foray into YA and I think she's done quite well, but may need to refine the art a little bit before the next one. This is a fairly standard YA dystopian novel and doesn't really stand above the rest. 
What age range is it for? 14+, there's quite a lot of torture in it which is quite explicit and gory. 
Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes, it's quite well done - very understated. 
Are any main characters non-white? Yes, Celestine is mixed race. I'm glad to see a mixed race model on the front cover. 
Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not really
Is there any sex stuff? No.
Are drugs mentioned or used? No
Is there any talk of death? Yes, briefly
Are there swear words? No
Would I recommend the book? Kind of. If it's your preferred genre, yes. If it isn't, then find a better one. 
How many stars? Six out of ten. 

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