Monday, May 23, 2016
Review: Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Series: Flawed, Book One
Publication Date: 24 March 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
You will be punished…
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 perfection is paramount and flaws lead to punishment. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything. (summary from Goodreads)
Ahern has a great concept in Flawed but the execution fails.
I've tried reading Ahern's adult fiction novels but could never get into them. There's something about her writing that doesn't appeal to me, and as I started reading Flawed I found it problematic still. Her writing seems too stiff, too forced to me. The argument can be made that it's purposeful here as Celestine strives for logic and perfection, so the writing style suits the story and character point of view. I don't disagree. But I didn't like it. It was a real struggle to get into this book. I honestly worried I wouldn't, but then the story really picks up and I found myself zooming through it, for a time. Celestine's arrest, her trial, her branding - it's intense and makes Flawed un-put-down-able in that moment. This world building, the concept of moral accountability, was really intriguing - and frustrating. It's the judgement and public shaming we see every day through the media and internet on a much larger and scarier scale. It's very thought-provoking. At least, for part of the novel. As engrossing as Flawed became, unfortunately it didn't last long. I was exasperated with the last part of this book. There's no major action, not really. Celestine hangs around basically as a number of people come to provide her - and readers - with relevant information. It's a giant info dump through conversation after conversation after conversation and it is boring and really, just lazy. The intensity and intrigue is not maintained at all, it is a mere blip. A blip that on the whole, does not make Flawed worth reading.
I'm not much of a fan of Ahern's characters either, to be honest. I found Celestine very off-putting. It's hard to connect with her and her story, to feel much empathy for her. Sure, her situation sucks but it's not emotionally impacting. Celestine never develops with any real depth. Her shifts in motivation or emotion are too quick, coming out of nowhere. Plus, Celestine is the least proactive person ever. She's guided throughout the entirety of the book and it is boring. Many of Ahern's secondary characters are at least fascinating but they are terribly underutilised. I really don't understand Carrick at all. Celestine yearns for him, yet they never even speak to each other! We're meant to believe in this all-encompassing, deep connection between them...but I really don't. It's ridiculous. For just a boy in the next cell for a tiny part of the novel, Carrick is given a lot of weight to carry within this story. It doesn't work. In much the same way there's Art, who is supposedly the love of Celestine's life...who also pulls a disappearing act. Yeah, okay. This is the case for many of Ahern's characters. Apparently they're meaningful and necessary, yet they hardly make an appearance in the story. What we are told about them may be interesting but it's not enough. There's no grit to Flawed. Judge Crevan and Juniper are the most frustrating of Ahern's underused characters. Crevan is the villain of Flawed and when he's part of the story he stands out. Ahern writes him with chilling intensity. But for so much of the book he's a side note. As for Juniper, Celestine's sister, Ahern writes her early on in a way that alludes to her being more than we see. But that build up is for nothing. Juniper is just another tool to push Celestine, like the reporter, like Alpha, like her Grandfather. There only to provide relevant info, no more, no less. The only secondary character I felt got some good development was Celestine's mother. The way she chooses to fight back, just a little? Woo! It's unfortunate Ahern chose to use her characters in such a way because Celestine is simply not enough to hold this story on her own. I ended Flawed disappointed and frustrated. And screaming "the snowglobe, you idiot!" I'm sure Celestine will figure it out in the next book. When someone tells her. Am I right?
The potential is there for Flawed to be so much greater. It's sad - and honestly, annoying - that it just didn't get there.