This really is quite spectacular. Subtle in its approach and with a lot of intricate layers, Flawed certainly deserves to be right up there with best reads of the year.
Ahern draws many a historical, political and anthropological comparison, although they may not be the first things people or readers think of, especially because due to the confines of the sub-genre.
Let’s start with this particular society creating two layers of wrong-doing. You have the criminal or ‘normal’ crimes, which are dealt with by the police and then you have the moral and ethical crimes. Those are policed by a higher tier of Judges, laws or rules.
Any action, statement, behaviour judged to be flawed, ergo ethically or morally corrupt is punished. Depending on the crime the person receives a brand on a specific part of their body.
If accused and convicted you become part of the Flawed community. Not allowed to eat what they want, say or do as they wish and live by curfews and restrictive rules.
It is also a crime to help the Flawed in any way, which also incurs the punishment of becoming flawed. Including showing them compassion, understanding or any kind of humanity. When Celestine gets in trouble it’s because she reacts instinctively, despite knowing her actions will get her in trouble.
Suddenly she becomes the voice of the oppressed and the face of the uprising. By telling the truth she has shown the world the flaws in the actual system. Oh, the irony.
Ahern’s first venture into YA is an innovative one. The ethical layers are intriguing, it has a lot of potential, and it will be interesting to see where she takes the series next.