As much as I enjoyed the sequel ‘Perfect,’ it did not feel as engaging as ‘Flawed.’ Even though I completed this in two sittings, staying up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it, there was an element of preachiness to the narrative as our protagonist Celestine gave many long pointed speeches.
There was a bit of swinging between indecisive and lost teenager to leader of a rebel cause with Celestine, but I found that realistic and true to her character, where I know in a different context it would have annoyed the willies off me. Because of the nature of this story, it deals with pride, confidence, and determination. These traits are compelling to read, but as previously mentioned, at times bored me a little with all the self-flagellation.
The other aspect around Celestine was her scheming – like she alone was more intelligent than Judges, Doctors, Politicians, and other adults. Sometimes I was like ‘yes! Rise up young woman!’ and others just elicited an eyeroll. It came off as trite. But even having said that, I was still wrapped up in her plight and revelled in the story from start to finish.
I did like how we got a resolution to the whole love triangle thing… it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and I didn’t like how the introduction of Carrick kicked off what I’m interpreting as insta-lust at the start of this series. I wasn’t sold. Though I ended up liking this pairing more in ‘Perfect.’ Her boyfriend from the debut (‘Flawed’) Art, has a more prominent role in this book, and is treated with intelligence and maturity. I think I must have had a flame burning for him from the outset, because I was realy shipping their pairing… As much as I loathe love triangles, the one in this duology just scraped past my sensor because it felt more organic.
The surprise I got with this novel came from the periphery characters and subtext. It touches on bullying, body-shaming, discrimination, and oppression. It conjures strong images of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ with how the Flawed are forced to wear their shame, and human rights are stripped away under the guise of (social) justice. There are some great zingers about self-worth and learning from your mistakes. About community and peaceful rebellion. ‘Perfect’ feels like an entirely different creature to ‘Flawed.’
The whole thing with Celestine’s scars left me squirming a bit. She doesn’t let you forget what was done to her. It’s a visceral feeling reading about her branding. It’s great that it makes the reader uncomfortable. It make you think about your own behaviour – how many shades of Judge Crevan do we have? How many of Celestine? Her story really makes you inspect your own judgement and treatment of people.
The writing style, though preachy in some short parts, is easy and has a quick flow. It’s open to digest quickly and the pacing increases the further you get into the narrative. Things just keep on happening. I was engrossed. On a side note, there was a little bit of jumping around the timeline for the sake of reveals in the storyline that felt cheap and out of character – why it was introduced in this manner so far into the duology I can’t quite swallow. For me, it did not add any impact. In fact I felt a little cheated.
The overall storyline is predictable, the tone of the novel sets you up to believe an inevitable ending; though there were so many little things that took place along the journey which had me excited. I really enjoyed ‘Perfect’ - it was the perfect YA dystopian read.