Originally posted on my previous blog – this post has been edited for spelling mistakes/clarity
Jem is in love with her best friend, Kai, who is gay. However, 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 after her best friend’s suicide. But after discovering who she thinks is responsible for the video, Jem wants to get back at them. She wants revenge.
I was lucky enough to get a proof copy of Undone through work. I have never read anything else by Cat Clarke but many bloggers and friends I know have continually recommended her books so I thought I was in for a really good read by choosing this.
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. I was so surprised by the events in the novel, Jem’s character, the writing – just everything wretched my heart into pieces.
The remarkable aspect of this novel – which I think was done so so well – was its 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 completely turn the ending on its head once you get there. I thought I knew how this was going to end, to me it was obvious. But then the last few chapters happened and its ending stayed with me for quite a while after finishing the book. The ending itself is amazing, dramatic and subtle in so many different ways.
Another aspect that made this book (if it’s possible) more heartbreaking was the realism that Clarke employs. 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. This novel really shines a light on the power of bullying in schools especially in the age of social media and Clarke makes that poignant in Undone.
I found Jem an interesting character, a little scary at some points considering 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 that I think really makes this novel stick in your mind – there were many times when I felt incredibly uncomfortable which I rarely feel in books. Jem’s resolution for revenge is incredibly engaging to read, but also scary as I continually wondered how far she would go. She is consumed by rage, fear and revenge that this makes this book so intense to read.
As my first dose of Cat Clarke, I was impressed at Clarke’s writing style and I liked how she brings up many teenage issues. It’s refreshing to see a YA novel that deals with bullying in this way from the point of view of 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 of keeping key information from the reader until the last moment. I felt a constant stream of suspense throughout this 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