I read the first of this duology whilst on holiday last year and I can remember sitting on the edge of the pool chatting away to the Mister about what it would mean for the world if the premise of the book really happened; if a person could be branded publically with an “F” for Flawed and shunned by society for moral and ethical wrongs. We spent quite some time thinking about it, but in the end we could think of no living celebrity that would not have been branded as flawed, and as it turned out, very few of our family and friends either. There’s nothing like realising that it’s a challenge to come up with the name of a really “good” person (yourselves included) to make you reflect on the state of the world and the meaning of “good”. And then to wonder exactly how far-fetched Ahern’s dystopian world actually is because the very fact that you are having this conversation at all means that you are acting as ‘purveyors of perfection’. Argh! The concept and how it relates to today’s world fascinates me.
So I was really looking forward to Perfect as the continuation of Celestine’s story. On the run and hunted by Judge Crevan and the Guild, Celestine has unwittingly become the poster girl of the revolution, her words used as a campaign slogan. The support for the Flawed has never been so strong and widespread, giving hoping to the whole community. Celestine must play a shrewd political game, endangering herself and those she cares about on both sides in order to prove that the be flawed is to be human.
I’ll be honest, despite the fact that I was already invested, it was tempting to give up on Perfect during the first 50 pages as they seemed to essentially consist of a re-telling the story of the first book in Celestine’s rather whiny and over-dramatic voice. Then something happened; the story got started, the pace quickened, and I barely looked up from my book for a day and a half.
Every chapter is action-packed and finished with a cliff hanger so obviously written to make you quietly whisper ‘just one more chapter’ that I almost wanted to rebel and step away from the book. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I was completely hooked and needed to know what happened next.
“There’s the person you think you should be and there’s the person you really are. I’ve lost a sense of both”
Because of this, it wasn’t until I’d finished the book that I was able to take a step back and assess it. In doing so, I found that I don’t like Celestine; she is weak and self-involved. I found the tone of the book too dramatic, it’s like reading an exaggerated diary of a teenage girl prone to theatrics (which actually is probably what it is given that Celestine is our narrator – see quote above for an example). I found the transformation of Celestine from clueless, trusting little girl to clever, scheming politician far-fetched. I found the ending too mundane for the dystopian world that had been so interesting in the first book.
Essentially, I found myself disappointed. I think I would have preferred Flawed to have been a stand alone book so that I could have imagined what happened next. That said, I can’t deny that Cecelia Ahern had me hooked for a while there.