Friday, 30 November 2012

Review: Undone - Cat Clarke

Published: 31/01/2013 (paperback) or 20/12/2012 (ebook), Quercus
Pages: 502 pages, ARC
Series/standalone? Standalone
Acquired: Kindly sent for review by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads): Jem Halliday is in love with her gay best friend. Not exactly ideal, but she's learning to live with it. 

Then the unspeakable happens. Kai is outed online ... and he kills himself.

Jem knows nothing she can say or do will bring him back. But she wants to know who was responsible. And she wants to take them down. 

A searing story of love, revenge and betrayal from a bestselling author.

My review: Having devoured Entangled and Torn the moment I got my grubby little mitts on them I was counting down the days to December 27th, when I could snap up a copy of Undone on my iPad. However, the lovely folks at Quercus surprised me and on one gloomy afternoon at the beginning of the month a proof copy clattered through my letter box. I was very excited, to say the least. I started Undone there and then and finished it a couple of days later, completely blown away by the mash up of an incredible plot and Clarke's signature style of prose.

Simply put, Undone is astounding.

What's interesting is that we're aware of one of the biggest events in the book, Kai's suicide, before we even crack the spine. The events in Undone take place before and after Kai's death and there's also a nifty change in tense, with one section of the book taking place before a key scene, in the past tense and the events of 'after' unravelling in the present tense. This is something that could have gone horribly wrong but the way Clarke handles it just makes the story even stronger, especially as we approach the ending, where the sense of immediacy is particularly compelling.

Kai and Jem's relationship is the driving force behind the entire story and, although he's alive for only a tiny portion of the book, I really felt as though I got to know Kai as a person. Getting to know Kai so well, knowing that he'd committed suicide, really made me get on board with Jem's actions and made it a lot easier to understand why she did the things she did. I realise those last couple of sentences are terrible vague and I am sorry for that but I don't want to give away a single one of Undone's many, many twists and turns. I knew relatively little about Undone before I started reading and raced my way through, heart in mouth, so do avoid spoilers at all costs; it makes for a much more exciting experience that way.

About two thirds of the way through the book I thought I had the story all figured out. I was sure I could guess what the denouement would be and I was convinced I'd guessed everything down to the final scene. If I'm honest, I was a little disappointed with the ending I'd prematurely decided Clarke had gone for - which is why it was particularly awesome when she THREW THE RULE BOOK OUT OF THE METAPHORICAL WINDOW and delivered one of the most amazing, shocking endings I've read in YA for a long old time. As far as I'm concerned, the ending is what makes Undone trip across from awesome to perfection. It's just brilliant.

As always, the narrative and dialogue in Undone is sharp, snappy and painfully funny. Clarke creates realistic teenage voices like no other writer and her books are so subtly visual I can always picture every single scene in my head as I'm reading. She's an extremely clever writer, too, holding back information until it absolutely needs to be revealed and creating cliffhangers in such a way that they urge you to read on, rather than being frustrating.

Building on the strengths she already displayed in Entangled and Torn, Clarke takes everything one step further in Undone. It's tighter, funnier and more extreme in every sense and is, without question, the most exciting book I've read in 2012. It's impossible to finish one of Cat's books and not have an urgent need to talk about it to everybody who crosses your path for the next month and Undone is absolutely no exception to that rule, which I shall now dub the Cat Clarke Effect.

First line(s): 'The boy next door. It's a terrible cliche, isn't it?'

Read if you liked…: Beautiful Malice - Rebecca James



  1. I really should read more - your review is so detailed and helpful :)

  2. Wow! I loved your review, I adored Entangled so I'll have to read this and Torn soon!

  3. Great review Carly! I haven't actually read anything by Cat Clarke, but I really want to - you've definitely persuaded me to pick something up by her soon!

  4. I've just got around to reading Torn. I love Cat Clarke's writing and she always picks gutsy issues and themes. This doesn't sound like it will disappoint me! I can't wait to read Undone.

  5. I'm ashamed to say I still haven't read any of her books, but I'm fairly certain that after reading this, Undone will be my first!


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