Author: Kate Avelynn
Rating: 2.5 Stars
You need to know straight off the bat that this is one of those reviews you should take with a grain of salt. I read Flawed just after finishing Juliet Marillier’s masterpiece, Daughter of the
Forest, and you should know, that reading order did no wonders for this novel. While both novels are vastly dissimilar, they both contain protagonists who have suffered through difficult situations and while Sorcha, the compelling heroine of Marillier’s tale, managed to make me weep and feel with intensity every feeling she felt, I unfortunately can’t say the same about Sarah, the protagonist of Flawed. Furthermore, Flawed is a novel that left me confused. I was forced to simply think about this book when I was finished with it – just not in a good way. It didn’t compel me to question society and think deeply about the issues this book covered, it simply made me think about why the book ended the way it did and how I actually felt about it – two questions I’m still not sure I entirely have the answers to.
Flawed is one of the most perfectly names books I’ve come across. It is flawed, just as the characters and the lives they lead are as well. Flawed starts off immersing us into a world of horror, sadness, and misery. Sarah and her older brother, James, have grown up in an abusive household. Not only does their father repeatedly beat them, but their mother is a drug addict and as such, they have been forced to rely solely on one another as they’ve aged. At a young age itself, the two siblings made a pact: James would protect Sarah from their father’s beatings as long as Sarah promised never to leave him. While Sarah sees nothing harmful in this simple promise, the true repercussions of it are felt later on in her life as she begins to fall for Sam, the sweet-spoken and gentle friend of James. As James witnesses their romance blossoming, his own pent-up feelings for his sister – not-so brotherly ones, mind you – begin to come to the surface. In this flawed world, is there any real hope for Sarah?
No, there isn’t. I hate to say it, but this book ends on a note that leaves me angry, upset, and feeling like I wasted my time because, to put it bluntly, this is not a story of hope. It isn’t even realistic, which is usually the other option when we are faced with novels that don’t feature around a theme of hopefulness. I’m getting ahead of myself though – we’ll talk about the end at the end. Firstly, what you need to know is that Flawed is a surprisingly quick read. It’s short, its chapters are short, and it will have you turning the pages in anticipation. Sarah and Sam’s romance is sweet – if you’re into sweet. I, on the other hand, yearned for more substance from Sam. If you liked Zeke from The Immortal Rules or Jase from My Life Next Door, then chances are you’ll love Sam. Like Zeke and Jase, Sam is perfect - too perfect. For a novel named Flawed, Sam ironically has none, which, for me, makes him a romantic interest who was sweet, but nothing else.
Sam aside, Sarah was a compelling heroine. It was evident that she was torn, both between accepting her love for Sam and staying true to her promise to her brother. Sarah realizes that James’ feelings for her are not normal and while she keeps him at an arms length physically, she too realizes that she needs James just as much as he may need her. Unfortunately though, this is never further explored. We have on our hands an intriguing psychological situation of two siblings who are too close, all due to their circumstances, but we can never see the repercussions or true impact of this type of a relationship. It isn’t quite incest in the way Forbidden is – these two don’t love each other and they don’t struggle to want to be together. Instead, they rely on each other for support, but in an unhealthy manner. While I found this all very interesting, I was disappointed that this was never explored further.
What prevented this novel from progressing to the depths it could have gone to? Well…the ending. It was convenient. Avelynn creates raw, tortured, and different characters, but instead of dealing with them, we have a rather convenient ending that very abruptly ends the story. A cop-out? I believe so. I guess readers were meant to cry and scream at the injustice of this ending or feel terrible for our protagonist, but contrary to all that, I just felt a massive dose of disappointment. Now, contemporary isn’t my preferred genre, so perhaps I go into it expecting a little bit more to really “wow” me, but somehow, this book failed to deliver.
My personal qualms aside, as a piece of literature, I believe Flawed tackles on more than it can truly handle. We have an abusive father, a drug-addict mother, and two psychologically messed up siblings, one of whom is the victim of unrequited love with his own sister. Hmm…seems plenty complicated to me. Now, throw in a best friend romance, a protective older brother, lots of sneaking out to make-out, and some issues concerning sex and we literally have two books on our hands, only they’re smashed into one and the issues concerning both fail to be developed to their full potential or degree.
All in all, I can’t say I really recommend Flawed. On the other hand, it was a novel that kept me entertained, captivated, and I enjoyed it a lot while reading it, but the overall impression it left with me was one of disappointment. I feel as if this novel could have been so much more and truly had the potential to resonate with the reader, but alas, I know this is one I’ll be forgetting easily. Yet, it seems as if I am – as I usually am, really – a black sheep when it comes to this novel. In fact, the majority of preliminary reviewers have loved this one and if you’re a fan of contemporary, issue books, or very sweet romances, you won’t be disappointed. If, however, contemporary isn’t your usual cup of tea, you only pick up issue books with severe persuasion, and you need your romances to have a little more, you may want to look elsewhere.