Saturday, 9 March 2013

Undone review

Cat Clarke
31st January 2013

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.

Cat Clarke has done it again. Undone broke me more so that both of her previous books combined. I don't know what it is about her books, but they're just so real and this book in particular was pretty brutal to read. A lot of the time I did feel that Jem was very difficult to relate to and to like, but even though I couldn't empathise with her, I could sympathise with her even if I didn't agree with a lot (or anything) that she was doing. 

This is not one of those contemporaries that's about grief and love and overcoming it and learning to move on. Undone is like the complete opposite of that. Well, it's still about grief and love, but it is not a happy story. It is a not a book that you will read and feel happy and uplifted and cry happy tears after reading. It is a book that will make you ugly cry (or at least it made me ugly cry.) I just feel like I should warn you of this. I won't spoil anything that happens for you, but you should just know that while it's very difficult to put down, I personally found it quite hard to read. Like, punch in the gut painful.

One of the main reasons for this was Kai. You may be thinking, but he's dead! Well, you'd be correct, but he leaves Jem 12 letters, one to read on the 23rd of every month after he killed himself. These letters were probably my favourite part of the book, and they broke my heart the most. I don't think that they would've had half the emotional impact, though, if they hadn't have actually been handwritten in the book. For some reason, this just made them so much more real as they gave Kai a solid identity not just by the content, but by how they looked. The sentences he started to write but then crossed out, the way the words became more hastily written and angry as he wrote how he was really feeling. His whole thought process before he killed himself written out month after month for Jem to read. At first they were fairly light hearted, and he would leave Jem these little things to do, like dye her hair blonde or buy a new top. Then, we got to see his doubts. The crossed out sentences were the worst, though. I can't explain why, but they just made me tear up every time. Call me pathetic, but I have a tear in my eye now just writing about them, so I'm going to stop. 

While I couldn't relate to or really empathise with Jem, I did think she was a really interesting, really real character to read about, as I've found with Cat Clarke's other books (namely Grace from Entangled.) She takes an interesting emotional journey as a character throughout the book, going from being devastated about Kai's death and not knowing how to deal with it to becoming obsessed with getting revenged for her beloved best friend. It takes a while to actually get to this point, but once we finally get there, she completely drops off the moral scale. Well, she doesn't actually kill anyone or anything, but what she does do is pretty bad. This is the point at which she lost me, and also the point at which I could not put the book down for the last 300 pages and had to stay up until late to finish reading it against my better judgement. I won't say much else about Jem, but by the end I think I did feel quite sorry for her, and the last sentence was just one of the worst, and by that I mean actually one of the best. Completely evil, though, and completely heartbreaking. 

Another thing that I really liked was the popular in crowd that Jem infiltrates for her revenge (I don't feel like this is too spoilery) because they were actually likeable. We're set up to hate them from the beginning because Jem hates them, but they're actually nice. Well, some of them are. They're all real, though. I think, actually, that Sasha was probably the least realistic of them all despite her being one of the most likeable. I didn't buy a lot of what she was doing for Jem and I wonder if that's because Jem didn't trust her or just because I'm a cynic, but she was so genuinely nice. What happened to her at the end completely threw me though! I had no idea where that came from and I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but it was a complete twist in the tail! And Lucas Mahoney. Oh, man. That's about all I'm going to say about that so you can all have the chance of reading about that spoiler free.

Undone was interesting to me as well because it was pretty different from Cat's other books. I mean, they're still the same sort of thing, but usually there's some sort of ambiguous supernatural/paranormal thing going on that you're not really sure about whether it's real or not real, and there's usually an ambiguous heartbreaking ending. Undone definitely had the heartbreaking part down to a t, as I've said about nine million times over the course of this review, but apart from that it didn't have any of the other bits. I think this is partially what makes this one of my favourite books from her, as you sort of know what's actually going on and the only voice from the grave is coming from Kai's letters. Also, it feels a bit more like she's finally settling into her voice completely in that I think this is her strongest book to date, though I did love Torn. I don't really know what I'm saying here. I think this is me trying to be clever about books and writers and stuff, but I think you get the gist. Also, is it true that Undone is going to be the first of her books to get published in the states? Because if so, they better prepare themselves. I just hope that they get it, because it seems that with a lot of British books they don't really seem to get them that much over there in the way that we get American books.

Undone was just amazing, really, is what I've been trying to say. Cruel and difficult and gripping and heart destroying and amazing. Cat Clarke is just masterful at writing these kinds of books, and I hope she continues to destroy my soul even more with her next book, whenever/whatever it happens to be.


  1. Enjoyed your review. I've never read any of Clark's books, but this one is going on my list. Thanks!

  2. We haven't read any of Cat Clarke's work either, but we've seen it around on other book blogs and been intrigued. This sounds like the place for us to start, since we're not huge on paranormal, but we do like compelling friendships and contemporary settings. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It sounds really wrenching, in a good way. :)


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