Review published on May 10, 2016.
Welcome to a society where immoral behaviour is no longer tolerated. Following historical events where ethical and moral mistakes were made by leaders that resulted in the economic downfall of the country, the Guild Committee was developed to tackle such flawed behaviour to prevent it occurring again.
Flawed people are branded with an F and ostracised by non-flawed people. Much like the time of apartheid they are not necessarily allowed to mix in the areas where non-flawed are, they have separate seats on the bus, are segregated in restaurants and are essentially treated as second class citizens, with disdain. In fact aiding a Flawed person, could be treated as a moral crime, resulting in being declared Flawed also. Hence this defective approach necessitates people treading very carefully and toeing this unsound societal line.
Celestine, having been indoctrinated into this way of life, upholds these views and acts like the majority of the population. She trusts the Guild to work on the public’s behalf and considers those found Flawed deserve the treatment they receive. Leading a privileged life as a popular, grade A student, who has a brain that acts like a personal thesaurus with a heightened attention to detail, she seemingly leads the perfect life…
Judge Crevan (Bosco) being head of the Guild, is the most powerful man in the country. He is also the father of 17 year old Celestine’s long-time friend and more recently her boyfriend, Art. Bosco is sat at the family table for Earth Day, only he’s being pompous and belligerent, not something socially she has observed before. A great tension is felt and it becomes apparent why, when their neighbour and friend is humiliatingly collected from her house having been deemed Flawed.
This is too close to home for Celestine. Her neighbour teaches her piano, she is a good person. Her immoral behaviour was to escort her mother to another country so that she could be allowed to end her life legally. Suddenly her whole world is turned on itself. How can this be right or fair? For such a logical and articulate person, why has she never questioned this before?
This plays havoc with Celestine’s thoughts, which erupt when an old, ill, Flawed man is almost left to collapse on a bus. Unable not to act with compassion, she too finds herself sent to the Flawed courts with her life completely turned upside down. What transpires has a profound effect not only upon her, but upon society and the Guild itself.
This is Ahern’s first YA novel and I have to say she has done a fantastic job. It is dystopian in style, it is enriched with morale teachings, it challenges bad human behaviour and can be applied to so many people who have experienced injustice however slight. It factors political and moral principles throughout and encapsulates how power can corrupt. It captures what a difference showing someone compassion can have upon them. It deals with the belief that if people are not allowed to make mistakes how can they learn? Indeed it has a moral message – not to be afraid of failure but to learn most from it [in order] to be a better more rounded person. The protagonist is young, intelligent and strong minded. Her incarceration and treatment enables her to flourish.
In some ways it is an alternative coming of age. It has the ability to inspire young minds. The characters were brilliantly depicted. The pace was rapid and engaging. The story was well thought out and progressed effortlessly. Whether this will appeal to adult Ahern fans who may not have read much in the way of fantasy fiction before remains to be seen, but hopefully she will win some new younger fans who will wait with baited breath for the concluding second book.
Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
HarperChildren’s 9780008125097 hbk Mar 2016
YA: Read me like a book by Liz Kessler
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