Until, with a tiny kiss and a broken mind, he asks for more than she can give.
Sam Donavon has been James’ best friend — and the boy Sarah’s had a crush on — for as long as she can remember. As their forbidden relationship deepens, Sarah knows she’s in trouble. Quiet, serious Sam has decided he’s going to save her. Neither of them realize James is far more unstable than her father ever was, or that he’s not about to let Sarah forget her half of the pact . . .
Intense, dark, painful, wrenching and stunning, Flawed is a fabulous debut that dances in the gray areas in the most perfect of ways. This book easily drew me in from page one, and was one I read straight through in one sitting. It's also one I'll be thinking about for weeks to come. With amazing character arcs, and two people who's stories are woven so deeply together it's hard to figure out where one ends and the other starts, this one is an amazing and memorable read.
Sarah is such an amazingly well done character, a girl who has quite a road in this book, and who weathers it with both grace and mistakes. Her love and devotion for her brother is mirrored back in a way that is both hard to understand at first and uncomfortable, but also something Avelynn does such a tremendous job of explaining as things progress. Connected in ways they don't even seem to fully grasp, Sarah and James have such an intense relationship, this book is most definitely a hard one to read at times. Still, the changes Sarah goes through, the things she comes to realize, the decisions she has to make and the situations she's faced with, make her easily one of the most relatable, engaging characters I've read.
Though James certainly has his flaws, and he will make readers all kinds of unsure and uncomfortable, his determination to protect his sister is so endearing. He is a character I both love and hated, one that left me torn and twisted and ripped apart at times. Though the story is told from Sarah's perspective, readers will connect just as strongly to James, and come to know him just as deeply. A victim of circumstance as much as his sister, and a boy who has given up so much in the name of protecting her, there is still something dark and dangerous about him. Heading down some rough paths of his own, James is as amazing as he is messed up.
Then there's Sam, the boy who tears the carefully scripted world James has created for his sister apart. The way Sam finally making a move for Sarah, who has pined for him for years, is the catalyst for so much else in the book, and the strong role throughout the book he plays, has left me loving this boy in so many ways. Charming, sweet, and so genuinely caring, Sam is one of the good guys, even when he messes up sometimes. He has his own sort of fierce determination, and isn't one to easily give up on things. Watching the changes he draws out in Sarah made for such a beautiful part of this book, and the impact he has on James, too, left its mark on me.
This book is one that will leave readers so completely twisted, and utterly drained emotionally by the time the gamut is over. From laughs and happiness to tears and punches in the gut, Flawed left me so strung out, yet yearning so hard for more. This one had a plot that was the perfect blend of internal, character focused things, centered mostly on James and Sarah and more specifically all the realizations Sarah comes to, and external things that trigger quite the series of events. A great mix of sexiness and rawness, and not at all holding back in any way, this one doesn't drop in pacing or intensity at all. The gray areas of love, life, and family explored by Avelynn truly made this book stand out for me, and made me connect hard to it. Add in the stellar writing, and Flawed is a brilliant must read.
Source: E-ARC received from publisher/author in exchange for an honest review
Reading level: Ages 16 and up
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Publication Date: November 23, 2012 (ebook), December 11, 2012 (Paperback)