This review may contain spoilers for the first book, Flawed.
I first read Flawed about two years ago while I was selling books at The Rep in Birmingham, and in between showings I absolutely devoured it. I wasn’t expecting to like it; a colleague had recommended it to me and I thought I’d give it a go. I was going through a stage of thinking that 99% of YA dystopian novels are exactly the same plot written under a different name (I’m still partly thinking this), and I’m not going to pretend that Flawed breaks the mold, but I couldn’t help enjoying it.
I waited an age for this, the second book in the duology, to come out in paperback and it’s is just as thrilling as the first. Celestine North is still in hiding from Judge Crevan and the rest of the government. Her face is everywhere and she’s dangerously close to being caught. Luckily for Celestine, she has a fantastic cast of fellow evaders behind her at every turn. Most of these are bit characters but they managed to make exciting what would be lulls in the narrative. This team is headed up by Carrick, who we are introduced to in the first book. I actually quite like him, and although it feels that every story in this genre has to have a central love story I actually didn’t hate it.
Celestine is a good character, too. She’s not your usual selfish girl, with a ‘woe is me’ narrative – she’s actually quite humble. There are times when she could have had a power trip, and although she’s incredibly naive at times, there are also moments of insight. I think mostly she’s normal, and that’s actually rare for this genre. However I did tire of hearing about her sixth brand quite early on.
There are parts that really tried to push beneath the very plot driven narrative, to talk about what it is that makes us human and how our flaws are important. I’m cringing a little saying that because it really isn’t a morality tale no matter how much it, ironically, talks about morality. I can’t say that the book is anything more than a really enjoyable story, and that’s no a bad thing. There was a faint echo of 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale in the air but obviously comes no where near to making the same points. I’m actually glad that it doesn’t really try to carry a message because it would detract from the plot, which is its best feature.
The pace of the book is what makes it such a winner. I read the whole thing over a few hours on a lazy Sunday. There are so many twists and turns, and the short chapters make the writing even more punchy. I highly recommend this to anyone who needs to escape for a few hours and likes a story that will help you lose the world.
Stop reading now if you don’t want spoilers.
In terms of the ending, it was far too neat. I’d have been much more interested if they’d have all died or at least a major character got taken out. It was all a bit too… nice. I suppose I shouldn’t really begrudge them a little bit of happiness since their lives had been pretty horrific but I can’t get past the fact that the whole plot of both books happens in a couple of months. That’s complete socio- and economic revolution in a whole country in a couple of months. Just, a bit too much for me to comprehend.