Author: Cecilia Ahern
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
UK Release Date: 24th March 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia
Source: Online library
The stunning YA debut from internationally bestselling author Cecelia Ahern.
Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.
But then Celestine encounters a situation in which she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule and now faces life-changing repercussions. She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.
In this stunning novel, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society in which perfection is paramount and mistakes are punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.
When I first heard about this book, I was really looking forward to it; it sounded like such a good idea, and I hadn’t read any dystopia for a while, so I thought it would be a nice variation from my usual contemporary choices. However, on the whole I really didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, but in the end I decided to see it through. I’m hoping that in this review, I can convey why it wasn’t really a book for me, and point out a couple of aspects that I enjoyed as well.
My first main dislike about this book was that Celestine’s situation just felt, for lack of a better word, silly. She got in trouble for something very small, and instantly was vilified by society, to the extent where the judges (and one judge in particular) decided to make an example out of her with excessive branding, and sometimes I felt like interactions between the characters felt quite over the top considering the situation. I also thought the branding scene was a little too gruesome for my tastes, and overall, I thought matters definitely escalated too quickly.
I also really disliked a lot of the characters. Celestine was an interesting character, as she essentially sacrificed her comfortable life for her conscience, but on the whole I didn’t really connect with her. I thought that she often didn’t think decisions through – such as with the birthday party, or with the old man on the bus, which was what kicked the whole thing off (I’m not saying that the right thing to do is ignore injustice in society, but she definitely rushed her decision). Judge Crevan felt over the top, and too power-hungry and domineering for me to take him seriously, and Art’s abandonment of Celestine really annoyed me, despite all his explanations.
This book did make some interesting points. For example, I know I said that the bus situation felt a bit silly, but it did draw parallels with what Rosa Parks did, and how people in society were shunned based on race, and this definitely made me think. It also made some interesting points on corruption in society, the truth of what the press says, and how people aren’t necessarily who you think they are, and these themes meant that on the whole the book was thought-provoking.
Overall, I didn’t particularly enjoy this book, but everyone’s tastes are different, so if you think the idea is interesting, it might still be a good book for you, especially if you are yet to read much dystopian fiction. I will also link to a few other more positive reviews below, which you can read if you want another opinion on the book.