How did you experience the book? Were you engaged immediately, or did it take you a while to get into it? It did take me a while to get into this book actually. The whole “Perfect” system really bothered me, and I found myself putting the book down in frustration a lot. I was about two thirds through before I found myself truly getting into the story.
How did you feel reading it - amused, sad, disturbed, confused, bored? This book made me so angry and frustrated. The injustices and unfairness of the whole story really affected me. There were only rare moments where I could settle and simply read. The majority of the time, the themes of the book would not let me rest. Each time I picked up the book the frustration came back with a vengeance. It was a continuing feeling, right up to the end.
What are your feelings regarding Celestine, the main character? Do you admire her? Disapprove of her? She never intended to take a stand. She just reacted out of basic human decency and compassion, and for that I admire her. Beyond that I didn’t have much respect for her character or her way of thinking. She was narrow minded and naive and arrogant, even as the story progressed. I did like that she didn’t have a complete change of character just because this big event happened. It was realistic in that her base character remained the same, even as her world views shifted. Over all though, I didn’t care for her too much, except for in those few moments that she chose the right thing. In those moments she endeared herself to me.
What did you think of her family’s reactions to her stand, and then her sentencing?
When something is happening to my family, it is happening to me. We tend to stick together and stand together. We are always on each other’s side. So for her strong-willed outspoken sister to remain silent? I felt utterly betrayed for Celestine. I appreciated her father’s blustering and yelling on her behalf, as he showed his love in his own way. It bothered me that she dismissed her grandfather so easily at first, and I was glad when they came to an understanding and she grew to respect him. Her mother’s quiet defiances were sweet, and while in keeping with her character, I did wish she’d done more.
The part that bothered me the most, however, was her younger brother’s reaction to her. The disgust and fear he suddenly showed toward her was heartbreaking. He was so brainwashed into society’s thinking that he couldn’t form a thought for himself. I wanted to shake some sense into him, and make him understand! Show him why it was society that was wrong, not his sister. And the fact that there was nothing his family could really do to teach him otherwise, without being seen as “aiding a Flawed” was beyond devastating. I do wonder how that storyline will develop in the next book.What are your thoughts on the romance aspect? Did the potential romance take away from the story or add to it? When I thought that Carrick was going to be a solid part of this first book, I was all for the romance. I am a sucker for romance, no matter the genre I find it in. When Carrick was absent for most of the book, I was confused. Why introduce a character that is obviously meant to be a love interest, when he’s not even going to be present? Why was Celestine suddenly putting so much emphasis on this character that disappeared when she needed him the most? I would have liked to see him introduced as a comrade and friend first with no hint of deeper feelings on Celestine’s part. Then perhaps in the next book - when he is actually present - the author could work on developing the romance. There was a lot of implication, and not a lot of follow through in that particular part of the story. It was unnecessary in this first installment.
What passages stood out to you? Did anything strike you as particularly profound or insightful? No particular passage stood out to me. However, the theme of discrimination and prejudice really affected me. The story makes you reevaluate how you react to our present day discriminations - the ones we don’t always see because we’re right in the middle of it. Do I sit quietly and watch the injustices happening around me? Or do I take a stand for what’s right, no matter what others think? Things to consider, and carry forward in our every day life.
Did you find the plot predictable or formulaic? Yes. It completely followed a formula, and was absolutely cliché is parts. It varied enough to keep it interesting, but I was at no point surprised by anything that happened. I don’t mind predictable or formulaic, most times. I would have liked to see a little more out of the box thinking for this one though. The prank played by the classmates for example. I could have done without that particular cliché.
Is the ending satisfying? It was abrupt. I would have liked another chapter or two to give our main character better direction and purpose. We were almost there, but not quite close enough. This is what makes me think the duology was originally meant to be a stand alone. It was like someone suddenly chopped it off at the halfway point and said, “We could make more money if we turned this into two books.”
If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask? Have you read other books by the same author, and how does this compare?
The author states that she wrote this story in six weeks. So my question would be ‘What suddenly inspired you to write this story?’ For it to be written so quickly and passionately, there had to be a trigger, right?
I haven’t read any of her other books. Mainly because I watched the movie version of “P.S. I Love You” and cried so hard I vowed never to read the book. I’ve been a little afraid to read any of her subsequent books as a result.
Has this novel changed you - broadened your perspective?
It’s definitely made me think harder about taking a stand for what’s right. No new ideas, per se. But definitely a reminder that it is not okay to sit idly by while injustices take place around you.
There is going to be a sequel. Will you continue reading the series? From what I can tell, the sequel “Perfect” is the second half of a duology. Because it is only two books, I will definitely read the second one. However, if it had been a trilogy or more, I probably wouldn’t continue. I do think this story should have been told in one longer book, instead of dividing it in two. But I will finish it, if only to know what happens next.
Would you recommend the book to other people? For as thought provoking as this book is, it’s not one I would recommend to others. I suppose if someone came to me looking for another dystopian YA novel, I may mention it. For a book that deals with the topics of social injustice and prejudice, however; I have a few others I may recommend before this one.
We were both quite amused by how different our answers were to the first few questions, but then became nearly identical answers for the last questions.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed this little experiment as much as we did! Hopefully we will be able to do a few more of these posts in the future.