2014 EVENTS:
Holly Bourne, Non Pratt and James Dawson - 30th October
Becca Fitzpatrick - 15th November

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

REVIEW: Undone - Cat Clarke

Wednesday, 2 April 2014
PAGES: 352
BUY IT: Waterstones
RATING: 4 Stars

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.

Undone is a heart-wrenching story about a girl who is trying to cope with her best friends death, and also comes to understand the devastating cost of grief and revenge.

The narrative follows Jem who is trying to get over the death of her best friend Kai. Jem and Kai have known each other since they were little and Jem has always been in love with him. Even though Jem knows Kai is gay she doesn't see this as a problem, but when a house party goes wrong and Kai is videoed being openly gay with an unknown man his life takes a turn for the worst. Kai receives hate mail and decides that he can no longer live with the embarrassment and shame he feels the video has caused him and believes his only option is to take his own life. Jem's narrative is interspersed with cleverly written letters from Kai, written in the days before he kills himself. There is one for every month for a year and are meant to help Jem come to terms with his death. 

Unfortunately Jem finds it hard to cope. She thinks her only option is to avenge Kai's death and seek revenge against those that she sees as taking him away from her. Jem is a great character to watch and is usually completely oblivious to almost everything that goes on around her. She becomes totally obsesses with the idea of revenge that she begins to construct a whole new life for herself, starting with following Kai's suggestions in his letters. While the outside world sees Jem as recovering and moving on, her narrative shows that she is in turmoil becoming more focused on her endgame and ignoring the little voice that tells her moving on isn't so bad.

At first I didn't care about Kai; there hadn't been enough back story or time in the narrative with him alive for me to associate with him. However, as I read on I began to realise that Kai is actually a sideline. Yes, it talks a lot about bullying and how its affects can be devastating and much further reaching than anyone ever realises but more specifically to this story it talks about Jem, and her mental state. Nobody seems to realise that she is grieving in a very destructive way.

One thing I have always loved about Cat Clarke's writing is how understated it is. The content of her books are always jam-packed with action but the writing is always simple, quick and very punchy. I loved Entangled and this blew me away just as much. Her style is that the reader is always given time to work things out before the narrator/protagonist and this makes things so much worse. By the time the cataclysmic end happens there is no going back, and the fact that you pretty much know by now how it will end hurts more because you can't change it. Her writing really does take you on a journey and her characters are well rounded and easy to associate with. Cat Clarke really gets the little ironies of life. Jem doesn't always. She doesn't see how blinded she is to everything and everyone around her even though she thinks she's really got them figured out.

There will be a lot of talk about the suitability of this book. I personally don't believe it glorifies suicide in any way. Jem talks about killing herself in the same way that I have heard teens talk about it, and I think that might scare some adults. It's definitely not suitable for younger teens because of the amount of sex and sex talk in it but it really felt like all the discussions the girls were having when I was at college so for 16+ teens it would be fine.

- Bex.

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