Oof, despite my 3-star rating, I had a lot of problems with this book, as seen by my long review.
I honestly didn’t realize that I was over dystopians until I started to read this book (thanks, Allegiant). Flawed has the basic plot of a girl who is just trying to live and blend in to society is destined to be The Chosen One that inspires a revolution. She is basically Katniss in that Katniss is just trying to save Prim and Celestine is trying to save an old, Flawed man, which is against the law. The society of Flawed was an interesting concept (basically, The Scarlet Letter meets Divergent as I read somewhere). Because of a total government screw-up due to corruption, if you are found to make one single moral or ethical mistake, you are branded as Flawed and cast out of society (though it is not necessarily a crime). There are five different places you can get branded, based on what you did (right temple – bad decisions, tongue – lying, right hand – theft from society, chest – disloyalty to The Guild, and sole of the right foot – stepping out of line with society). However, despite the interesting concept, I think it was published about 5 years too late. I also did not understand all of the rules of the society. Celestine mentions multiple times that Flawed people are not allowed luxuries, but also mentions that she has a phone and a TV in her room and she is granted time in the library to do internet searches and just hang out and read fiction for fun. Those sound like luxuries to me.
I was annoyed by Celestine and her constant impulsivity and how she would say that she can’t trust anyone only to reveal information that she should definitely not reveal to someone she is unsure of in the span of five sentences. Speaking of her claiming to not trust anyone, I found it so laughable that she thought that people wanted to be her friend after she was branded a Flawed. I saw what happened coming from a mile away and I’m surprised that no one other than Juniper did as well (and even then, she did nothing to stop it).
Also, there is a lot of repetition in the story. I think she refers to Carrick as being a soldier at least a dozen times, along with the aforementioned cycle of not trusting people and revealing information. I didn’t understand the point of the love triangle and how she and Carrick literally said a maximum of ten words to each other, but she feels such an intense draw to him. Also, the whole thing with her sister and Art was just unnecessary.
I will say that about a third of the way in, there is an unsettling scene that could be considered gruesome to readers. However, for me, I read it and was rather unmoved (as my mom put it, after watching Game of Thrones, sometimes you just get used to it). I think Ahern handled the scene well and provided enough detail that the reader knew what was happening was horrible, but not enough that you actually felt like you were there and able to hear and smell and feel what Celestine is feeling.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing. There were points that the sentences had very little variation in length and it became apparent that this was an adult author writing for a YA audience for the first time. Also, several of the chapters were one to two pages long and it felt jarring to realize that I was in a new chapter when I had literally just started to read the previous one. The book is only 336 pages, but it consists of 66 chapters. That is just unnecessary in my opinion and several of the chapters could have been combined.
It’s interesting that I was really annoyed by the book, yet I couldn’t put it down and read it in about three sittings, with one of those sittings consisting of 200+ pages. Despite my gripes with this book, I am interested to read the second book, mainly to see if there is any pay off for the cliff hanger and what will happen to the Guild.