“It can take a lifetime to build up a friendship – it can take a second to make an enemy.”
Last year romantic fiction writer, Cecelia Ahern, released her debut YA novel, with the first in a two-part series, Flawed, in which Celestine North, a young woman with a bright future finds herself charged with being Flawed, in a society where anything less than perfection is punishable by law.
Now, a year later, the follow-up, and highly-anticipated conclusion to the duology, is here in the form of Perfect.
Look at that oh so dramatic cover!
You just know some serious shizz is about to go down!
Following on from where Flawed left off, Perfect opens with Celestine on-the-run and in desperate need of some allies, as she attempts to overthrow the very organisation that landed her there.
I went into this book with high hopes; Flawed showed real potential, very much akin to a modern-day 1984, with a well-paced plot that made for an extremely addictive read, and I expected Perfect to continue in the same vein.
Sadly, that is not the case.
Instead we are left with a story that feels muddled and rushed. Whereas the fast pacing worked well for Flawed, here Perfect suffers because of it; Ahern seems desperate to tie off every scene as quickly as possible, allowing no time for the emotional moments to have any impact. This book either needed to be a lot longer, or extended into a third, because the entire thing feels like a roller-coaster ride you’re clinging onto with your fingertips.
The pacing is not helped by the writing. I am a big fan of Cecelia’s past works, having relied on her early books to get me through high school, and I have always found her writing a joy to read. Here, however, I find myself wondering whether she was forced to rush this out earlier than planned, because I just don’t want to admit to myself how badly written it actually is. It’s clunky, awkward, and even embarrassingly cringe-worthy at times. There are moments when her usual calibre shines through, but those moments are few and far between, and go further towards highlighting the poor quality of the rest of it, than anything else.
And then we come to the plot, which makes this a three-star rather than a two-star review, because, regardless of the aforementioned problems I had with it, I did actually race through this book, and not just because of it’s pacing.
Like Flawed, and in spite of it’s flaws, Perfect is an addictive read. You do want to know what happens next, you can’t predict what’s coming, and, at the end of the day, it is a fun read. Perhaps then, despite it’s faults, that’s why it’s one of the few series I would’ve preferred had been extended into a third book, because this story did deserve better than it got.
There were a few oddities that did confuse and irritate me about the plot, but I have included them at the end of this review, as they contain spoilers
Overall, this series had so much potential. With an intriguing storyline, and in the hands of an imaginative writer like Cecelia Ahern, it seemed a shoe-in for a successful series, but the poor writing and structure of this concluding part let it down, and what could have been something really gripping ultimately ended up feeling like a bit of a damp squib.
Perfect is published on April 4th
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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Firstly, Bahee. Here you have a nasty piece of work who has shown in the past he’s willing to do anything to save his own hide, so I was rather surprised how nonchalantly they dismissed the very idea that he wouldn’t even consider dobbing in Alpha, Professor Lambert, and the rest of the gang, after they dumped him at the side of the road. This just seemed like a really big, obvious, plot hole that was poorly filled.
Secondly, during the parade when the various members of the group are admitting why they were branded Flawed, Kelly, Carrick’s mother, admits that she and Adam were branded because they wrote anti-vaccination papers about the dangers of vaccinations. This seemed a really weird reason to give them, because I thought we were meant to be sympathetic towards them? I can only presume Ahern is an anti-vaxxer herself, because I honestly kind of found myself agreeing that they should have been branded for that.
Thirdly, at one point in Perfect, Celestine says,
“I have grown to love my Flawed world…I feel at peace in my scarred skin.”
and honestly, to me, this only came across as sounding really green. It may have been that Ahern was trying to convey the ultimate moral of the story, that being flawed is being human, but I don’t think it comes across like that. In contrast, she just sounds naive and priviledged. She keeps meeting people who have been branded Flawed and on-the-run for decades, people who’ve told her about the painful sacrifices they’ve had to make in order to survive, and yet she wants to live like that, having lived like that for a grand total of three weeks? I just found that rather ignorant.
Finally, Art. For 90% of this book I just found him a pointless annoyance, and then finally he does something decent, I begin to not mind him again, and she goes and abandons him in the hospital, while he’s asleep, and just after his father has been taken away. The guy is going to wake up in pain and totally alone. I just ended up feeling really sad for him, and really annoyed at Celestine, which wasn’t the best way to end the book!