Flawed is the first young adult novel by Cecelia Ahern. In a stark contrast to her fiction for adults, Ahern has chosen to set her novel in a speculative and dystopian society which holds elements of science fiction.
Whilst this novel is not for the faint of heart, it is certainly an excellent offering in the tradition of The Hunger Games or the Divergent series. Without giving too much of the plot away, the novel is set in a world which has seen all of its previous leaders fail. They have been ineffective, corrupt and immoral and more mistakes like this must be prevented. Enter The Guild, a terrifying committee of top legal and social minds including the formidably frightening Bosco Crevan who are outside of the government and who enact ‘the law’ on citizens. In this society perfection is a must and a single ‘flaw’ in one’s personality can result in imprisonment and trial for being a ‘flawed’.
In this system, people are found guilty of being a ‘flawed’ if they commit crimes against society such as stealing, lying and not striving for perfection. This is a society where rules must be strictly obeyed and any failure results in consequences of the most severe kind. If you are a ‘flawed’ you are branded with the ‘flawed’ symbol and must live your lives amongst your fellow citizens but to an entirely different set of rules which mean that your mistake remains with you for the rest of your days.
Celestine North, the novel’s protagonist is a feisty young woman who must navigate this world of extreme rules and punishments. Always toeing the line, her reaction to a single event could change the course of her life forever…
This couldn’t be further from the usual fiction that Ahern writes and yet, there is a striking relevance contained within these pages that is hard to ignore. From commentary on our propensity to seek perfection to our seeming obsession with reality TV and the lives of others, this novel is perfectly pitched to describe a world which is frighteningly, not all that unthinkable. There is some excellent young adult content in this novel which will certainly appeal to this demographic, but there are also comments on society, politics and what it means to be human which give the novel a surprising adult crossover appeal.
A sensitive and yet hard hitting look at how the past can impact upon the present and future, this novel certainly held reminiscences of major world events which provoke thought and make the reader question their own ethical code.
This novel should certainly be read with sensitivity to the upsetting scenes it sometimes contains, but is a must read for fans of dystopian fiction.
Flawed is out now, published by Harper Collins, the sequel Perfect is out in March 2017