TJ Burns — March 2017
Perfect was a fantastic read! Everything I hope for in a book and more! Suspense, mystery, unexpected twists and turns, thought-provoking content, intelligent (and at time witty) dialogue, interesting/intriguing characters who experience character growth, and a splash of romance!
Ahern’s writing style is brilliant. Following Celestine’s thought process is amazing as she grows and develops, learns from her mistakes, questions the world around her and everything she’s been taught to believe is true, draws her own conclusions, overcomes betrayal, learns to trust.
The varied chapter lengths works really well to move the story along, sometimes long to reveal a more in-depth analysis or detailed scene, sometime incredibly short to create a sense of urgency.
I wish I hadn’t had to wait a year to read this second book — the two books would have flowed so seamlessly together. It seems more like one complete book than a duology.
The two books together, Flawed and Perfect deal with a heavy subject matter, which in its presentation is dark enough, but at one point toward the end of the second book, Ahern alludes to an even darker possible turn of events, which given the historical events of the not so distant past, would be entirely conceivable (see spoiler in my Goodreads Review).
We are presented with a system for regulating moral conduct – a Theocracy – with Judge Crevan (Bosco) as the infallible Executive Theocrat, the moral judge, the decider of right from wrong.
We get introduced to this system by Celestine, a 17-year-old who was raised in this system and genuinely finds it to be a good way to keep people on the moral path. Celestine’s Granddad, Cornelius, and her sister, Juniper, are presented as critics of the system – the free-thinkers.
It is essential for the story that we receive a description of this moral system from the perspective of an indoctrinated, like Celestine, rather than from someone who sets himself/herself critically towards the system, such as Juniper or Cornelius.
The way in which Celestine first describes “the Guild” initially led me to believe it to be harmless. The more I learned about this system, the more I came to recognize it as a brutally oppressive theocratic dictatorship, which uses fear tactics, censorship, torture, imprisonment, ostracization, and stigmatization to force the majority to follow the moral edicts of a small minority.
Perfect shows the dangers of letting a theocratic dictatorship control our thoughts and actions, and stresses the importance (and mandate!) of following what our own consciences know to be “right,” “just,” compassionate,” and “logical,” even when the political and religious system set in place forbids such actions.
Perfect is much more than an outward political critique, however. Perfect also looks inwardly, asking readers to celebrate all of our imperfections and encouraging us to accept ourselves as “perfect” just as we are — perfection in balance with our flaws.
Celestine concludes that we, “the flawed,” can learn from the mistakes we’ve made, while “the unflawed” presumably haven’t made any mistakes to learn from (at least none they are willing to admit to). Ergo, the flawed are a whole lot smarter, having learned a whole lot more.
Perfect is intriguing, provocative, and exciting! It examines external moral structures, such as cults, theocracies, and ideological dictatorships with a condemning eye, and it denounces any society’s attempt to hold its members (or any individual’s attempt to hold himself/herself) to a “perfect” standard that does not include looking to our consciences for answers, acting with compassion, learning from our mistakes, and accepting ourselves with all of our imperfections as “perfect” — just the way we are.
I received a copy of this book from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Expected publication: April 4th 2017 by Feiwel & Friends
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