Cat Clarke is really good at creating flawed characters. I don't just mean the trivial flaws that are often prevalent in YA, (you know what I mean: "My hair is too frizzy...", "My boobs are too small", "I'm a social outcast..."). No no no. Clarke goes for the big flaws which are far more real. She creates characters who act in all the wrong and improper ways when faced with drama and calamity. They fu...dge up. They don't just mess up because it's good for the story, or because it adds necessary conflict. Her characters mess up in all the ways that real people mess up. We chicken out. We swear and get horny. We act selfishly. We hurt people to console ourselves. We bitch. We get jealous. We lie.
We do all of these things and yet whenever we read a story, don't we see ourselves as the hero? Despite all our own flaws, we all want to be the one to save the Nakatomi Towers, or defeat the Alien, or take on the Terminators. Clarke gives us protagonists who sometimes do bad things but who also want their "Yippy-ki-yay-Get-away-from-her-you-bitch-Come-with-me-if-you-want-to-live" moment. This, to me, is real and it therefore makes me really care about and empathise with her characters.
Which is great. Except Cat Clarke likes her realistic narratives so much that sometimes she has to go and put her characters in painful and impossible situations. She hurts them and, through her razor sharp prose, cuts us too! Deeply.
So darn you, Cat Clarke! You've made me cry for the second time, and for that I kind of want to throttle you and beg you to take it easy on your poor protagonists. At the same time, you've made damn sure that I will go out and buy every single book you ever write, because you're bloody terrific! Ours is to be a love-hate relationship, I think! He he he.