Thursday 14 March 2013

Book Review-Undone by Cat Clarke

Advance warning- the review is 700 words, 250 of which are ranting. 

Title: Undone
 Author:  Cat Clarke
Series:  N/A
Published:  31 January 2013 by Quercus
Length: 502 pages
Warnings: rape, suicide, homophobia, violence.
Source: library
Other info: Cat has also written Entangled and Torn, which I reviewed here and here.
Summary : 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. 

Review: Jem loves Kai. Kai doesn’t love her back, because he’s gay. She’s ok with this. Fastforward a few years, when he gets outed via internet video, and he receives a lot of hate mail. And he kills himself. A month later, Jem is ready to do the same, when she receives an envelope. It’s a year’s wotrth of letters from Kai, challenging her to do things and live life to the full. While following them, Jem decides to also find out who drove Kai to his death, and to get her revenge.
I’m going to start by saying that I didn’t cry at this *ducks from people calling me heartless* I got pretty damn close when reading Kai’s letters, which were by far the best thing about Undone. They were so raw and emotional and real and you really get a sense of Kai, even though he’s dead for the majority of the book. you can just imagine him sitting there, and what he’s going through, and how hard it is. The fact that they were handwritten, inconsistent and smudged, makes it all the more intimate and real.
The supporting characters in Undone were all seen in a really negative light to start with, but you started to like them more and more as you got to know them and form opinions of your own of them. They also developed quite nicely. Bugs, I didn’t have good or  bad feelings for, and I think he got off relatively lightly in Jem’s revenge plan.  Lucas wasn’t too bad either. Stu wasn’t that nice, but he is really badly affected by Jem. Sasha was my favourite living character, as she did seem genuinely nice and undeserving of what happened to her. Though to be honest, all the teens in Undone deserve a good slap at some point.
The characters were all well written and real. The social dynamics seemed quite real and full. I can’t say I approve of these people’s views on sex. The girls feel they’re there for the boys, and throw sex at everyone. But hey, it’s their views. Not mine. But it does say something about gender power among teens.
I love Cat. She’s a really nice person, from the one time I met her and her happenings on the interweb. And her style is beautiful, as always. So, realistic characters, beautiful but horrible set up, huge issues tackled and amazing writing. Why doesn’t this get five stars or more?

It’s Jem. To start with, I felt bad for her, what with her terrible month since her best friend killed himself and her being ready to do the same. She was trying to change herself and get on with life, and I respected her for that. She takes the plan to get revenge on whovever did what they did, showing she’s proactive and disabled. And then she changed so much. She wasn’t being true to herself, and she knew it.
I can just about deal with that. What I can’t deal with what she does around the 200 page mark. The three little words. And the spreading rumours, not little ones like with  Bugs, but big ones. And they seriously affect the person they’re about. And the subject matter. These two actions made me lose all empathy,  care and respect for Jem. And shout at her. “YOU DO NOT F**KING JOKE SLASH LIE ABOUT STUFF LIKE THAT. THAT IS DISREPECTFUL AND SERIOUS and if you can throw that around I cannot care for you.” *I'll save my thoughts on rape in culture and YA fiction for another day* 
I do love characters that develop. Jem most certainly did. I like characters that go up and down the morality scale-it did no harm for my love of Dorian Gray. But Jem did not so much slip, she was slightly wobbling and then she  fell at terminal velocity. And she changed beyond recognition. And I just cannot fully enjoy a book with a character that I hate so much. Even with an ending like that.

Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a beautiful emotional book, that I just couldn’t fully love due to its main character.


  1. For me, I have to connect with the protagonist to enjoy the book. I don't know if I'd like this book, but I usually don't read darker contemps like this one with lots of issues being addressed, but I've heard really good things about Cat Clarke's writing. I'm glad yo liked this, though, despite some problems, Nina! :)

  2. a very suicidal book gone wrong i say very interesting to read


Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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