Title: Flawed (Flawed, #1)
Author: Cecelia Ahern
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends, 2016
Genre: YA Dystopian
Let me start by telling you that I have waited to read this book ever since it was an ARC on Netgalley and I was declined. The description was right up my alley: future society, everyone must be perfect, girl is not, girl questions society. Traditional Dystopian trope, right? Makes us keep finding books that compare themselves to The Hunger Games, or Divergent, and we sigh, thinking, “Here we go again.”
Not for me.
I loved this book with every fiber of my being. And though it was trope-y, it was powerful. Ahern is a great writer, I must say.
Celestine (I know…this name is really starting to get overused lately) is pretty close to perfect in her family’s eyes. Which is good because nowadays, after an economic crisis that led to many politicians to be found lacking in good judgement, people who aren’t perfect are “Flawed.” Celestine and her family do well: Celestine’s mother is a model, her father a reporter for The Guild. And her boyfriend, Art, is the son of one of the most powerful men at The Guild, Judge Crevan…but Celestine calls him Boz because they’re close.
After a neighbor is taken away to be marked Flawed on Earth Day, we learn what is to be her fate: The Guild does not consider flawed people criminals, oh no, no. They simply root out those people who aren’t of strong moral character, and they brand them in an area repressing their mistake in society: a large letter F surrounded by a circle. Kind of like The Scarlet Letter, once someone is marked Flawed, they become subhuman in society.
The Flawed live by different rules: they do not get the same “luxuries” most people get. Once they are branded on one of five places relating to their flaw…everywhere from their temple for bad judgement to their chest for disloyalty to the government to their tongue for speaking lies (say ahhh! 😝)…the Flawed must remain separate from all things so as not to spread their poor ethics and choices.
Once Celestine’s neighbor is found Flawed for taking her terminally I’ll mother out of the country to be euthanized (quality of life issues), she is branded on her palm for “theft of society.” But that isn’t the worst part. The entire family is ostracized for having a Flawed relative, and the friendly, popular neighbors become reclusive.
After Celestine makes a “mistake” of her own, she begins to question the logical system she’s always loved. For Celestine is all about logic, and her choice was logical…wasn’t it? Suddenly a huge media circus surrounds Celestine, and her “actions” called into question. Really, what does it mean to be Flawed, anyway?
Celestine, the perfect girl, doesn’t think she wants to be perfect anymore…
Definitely. This book is rich with discussion topics: what it means to be “Flawed” and what it means to be perfect, the purpose behind the branding, the subhuman treatment of Flawed people even though they aren’t the same as criminals (supposedly). The people in the society live in constant fear of being deemed imperfect, broken, other. There is so much you can use for paper topics, in-class discussions, and activities in the class. I would want to use this book in the classroom and I think I will make a small lesson plan utilizing it already!
Lexile.com gives this a score of 760L, which means it’s appropriate for middle graders, too. The suggested age range is 12-18, but I would even add that you could go as young as 11 with this book and still feel comfortable. There’s no sex and no swearing. The book focuses mainly on character development and societal pressures, which can be understood as a young reader or an older one. I would feel confident letting my 12 year old niece read this book!
Yes, there’s going to be tropes in Dystopian literature: the idealized society, the one person who finds flaws with the system, etc etc etc. That’s just part of the genre. If you put your predictions and prejudices aside, I think many will love this book. There’s so many things I wanted to tell you about but didn’t want to spoil it for you. So I hope you fall in love with this as much as I did!
If you don’t, then at least you gave it a try, and that’s all I’m suggesting.
P.S. This is the cover for the sequel, Perfekt, and I am squealing already. It won’t be available until April 2017, but time flies when you’re reading lots of amazing books!