I have to admit I really thought this was going to be one of those typical teen reads - silly, fun, a little bit frivolous, and you get that impression I think from the blurb. However, this was far from frivolous or silly. So FAR. And I was so surprised by the events in the novel, Jem's character, the writing - just everything wretched my heart into pieces. Wow, Cat Clarke sure knows how to write....
Synopsis: Jem is in love with her best friend, Kai. One problem: he's gay. Not exactly ideal but she's learning to go with it.
Until one night at a party. Something dreadful happens to Jem. But something even more horrible happens to Kai - he's outed online over his gayness. A couple days later, Kai is dead.
Jem is left alone and a wreak after her best friend's suicide and knows she cannot bring him back. But after discovering who she thinks is responsible for the video, Jem wants to get back at them. She wants revenge.
When I started this novel, I knew it would be break my heart into little pieces and scatter them about London. And Undone succeeded in doing so. The remarkable aspect of this novel which I think was done so so well, and not seen in most novels is the ability to make you as a reader think firmly throughout the majority of the novel that the ending will end in a certain way. But then that is turned completely on it's head once you reach the ending. I thought I knew how this was going to end, to me it was obvious. But then the last few chapters happened and I was told something completely wrong , shocking and a moment that stayed with me for quite a while after finishing the book.
The ending is amazing, dramatic and subtle in so many different ways. If you have any faults or criticisms of the novel itself, you cannot fault the ending. I think for those that are lucky enough to read this book, you will totally agree with me.
Another aspect that made this book, if it's possible, more heartbreaking was the realism that Clarke employs through the pages. I recognised Jem's struggle, her hatred for the elite popular group and the power they hold over everyone else and I think Clarke definitely portrayed this aspect in a way that was scarily real to me. I could relate to Jem a lot with my far share of arguments and isolation from those I considered my friends at the time. I hated the popular group, the way they felt they could do anything, be anything, get anything. There was this one girl who everyone loved in particular that I looked at and knew I didn't like her. The same for a few people at my college now, it's judgemental yes, but I think any teenager can detect who is or isn't popular in the social hierarchy of schools just by looking at them. Linked to this is the power of bullying that every teenager is taught about from an early age yet no-one takes any of the advice. I don't think people realise the power and magic the internet has on bullying and Clarke makes that poignant in Undone with the suicide of Kai.
I didn't mind Jem, she was neither too annoying or too weedy as I think a character in her situation could be considered. I found Jem a little scary at some points at the lengths and transgressions she was willing to go in order to carry out her plan of revenge. She is in a bad place throughout the majority of the novel and it the pure rawness and emotion that Cat Clarke portrays over the page to the reader that I think really makes this novel stick in your mind - there were many times when I felt violently uncomfortable at what was happening. Jem's resolution in revenge, her final act perhaps, is one of these moments that I don't think I expected at all. She is consumed by rage, fear and revenge that this makes this book incredibly intense to read. Do not go for this book for a light read.
As my first dose of Cat Clarke, I was impressed I have to say at Clarke's writing and style that I think any teenager in secondary school/high school would be able to relate to BIG TIME. It's refreshing to see a YA novel that deals with bullying in this way with both being bullied and doing the bullying and I think there needs to be more books such as this on the market.
Cat Clarke's writing is what makes this book so great as she has a mastery by not letting the reader know information until the last moment, I found just a constant stream of suspense throughout the novel that left me guessing and guessing until the end and beyond. This is a jewel of a book that I'm so glad I had a chance to read.
I give it a 4 out of 5
Author's Website: http://www.catclarke.com/
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UNDONE will be released on 31st January 2013