on 31 December 2012
Oh I really didn't realise how much this book would hook me. It literally sucked me up and I read it in just over a day and this was a rather long proof at just over 500 pages. Undone is a very mesmerising novel about some dark subjects. There's sex, suicide, alcohol, bullying and discrimination towards gay people. There was a lot going on in this book but it was dealt with very well as Cat seems to be a master at writing realistic YA fiction.
Undone follows Jem Halliday whose gay best friend commits suicide due to him being bullied because of his sexuality. The first few chapters we get to know Jem and Kai's background and how they know each other. Then the inevitable happens Kai commits suicide due to a tape of him circulating online that immediately outs him. Kai was not ready to come out of the closet and can't cope with the large amount of hate mail he is getting so he finds a solution to the problem. Suicide. Kai's death sends Jem's own life spiralling downward, they were inseparable and now he's gone. Jem doesn't want to live without him, she loved him after all. She knows she must commit suicide too or the grief will never go away. Jem is counting out some pills when some letters from Jem appear, each one dated each month of the upcoming year. Jem is so startled she momentarily forgets about the pills and focuses on the letters. Kai wrote the letters in the last hours of his life and Jem will live another year so she can do that one last thing for him. In the mean time she seeks revenge on those who did this to Kai and she won't stop until she finds the culprit.
Jem was the complete opposite of what I was expecting. I expected this sweet quiet girl, what there was, was an grumpy, Gothic, angry girl, who would just as soon punch you instead of apologise. She was so different to what I was expecting, it sent me off the rails a bit. Alas in her revenge she knows she has to change to fit in with certain people and I liked the new Jem. She smiled and enjoyed herself, she let her hair down and didn't dwell on the death of her best friend. In a way she was moving on but it was all an act. It's what she should have done but she was so hell bent on revenge that this was just an act, a facade. I felt so sorry for some of the secondary characters at the end because she was a huge bitch to them. Yes I knew she suspected a few of them but she argued with them all, I wanted to hug the others instead of her. I know this was all the pent up anger from Kai's death but I think she should have realised that things weren't so bad in this new group of friends. There was a future there waiting for her but she blew it all away with false accusations. I don't think I've felt so strongly about one character in a long while, my views and emotions were changing so rapidly even I was getting slightly confused. For a detailed character you couldn't ask for better.
The popular group in the novel were very interesting, they weren't stuck up bitches and jocks that we're used to seeing on the TV. We have Lucas who is the popular boy who oozes self confidence but he was also so sweet, he wasn't cocky like I expected, there was a gentlemen under there somewhere. Sasha was a lovely kind girl who took Jem under her wing and what happened to her broke my heart. That was the last thing I was expecting. There are more characters who played important roles but I shall let you discover them.
The important things that are dealt with in the novel then. We have the subject of sexuality touched upon with Kai. He was gay but he wasn't ready to reveal that to the rest of the world just yet so when it was thrust upon him, he crumbled. Then all the hate mail arrived. It really shows how other peoples actions can ruin a persons life. You must think before you act because every single person has feelings and one simply slip of yours can change their life. Oh and there's nothing wrong with being gay, you should never judge someone who is. If you suspect someone is don't shout it to the world, it's their decision if they reveal it and after all you could be wrong. You don't know what's going on in that persons mind so don't make these life changing decisions for them. There's sex too, more than I actually expected but it worked well in the story and I had no problems with it being there. There's alcohol but hey it's teenagers and parties what more can you really expect? Suicide is another key part and again you should know that if you feel that down there will always be someone to talk to and help you. You are never alone, you should always remember that. There are many important subjects in the novel and all are dealt with well. There's a lot of wisdom in this book and you can learn a lot from it.
Undone is a heartbreaking novel. When you think that's the end and your heart has split in two, wait until the very end and then your heart will crumble. It will be so numb and shocking that there's nothing to sum up all the feelings that come to you. It is just so heartbreaking, if you're an emotional reader, do bring tissues, you're going to need a packet or two. Undone is a spectacular novel about some harsh subjects and a plot that will keep you on the edge until the end. Then you will then and truly fall over that edge and be left on the floor in a ball crying your eyes out.
on 21 December 2012
I actually, for the life of me, don't know how to start this review. There's so much I want to say. But as with all of Cat's previous work, you even so much as utter a couple of words and already something it a little spoilt. So tightly woven are her books, Undone, and of course her first two books, Entangled and Torn, that every page has fought a bloody battle and has earned it's place fair and square, it's there because it needs to be. Fair enough, there aren't revelations on every single page, but you can feel it building the whole time, always bubbling away gently until it gets a little too hot in the kitchen and it bubbles over and explosions begin to take place.
It's weird to say, but I think Kai is my favourite character in the book. Yes, he dies at the start, but the more you learn about him, the letters he leaves Jem, he just seems like the person you'd love to be friends with. Always happy, always smiling and trying to make sure that you're okay, that you're happy, often unintentionally neglecting himself.
I have been looking forward to Undone for so freaking long. From the moment I finished Torn, I just knew that I had to read whatever Cat wrote next. She is, quite frankly, a genius. She gets the reader. She gets the voice just right. She sucks you in with such skill and with such power that you're almost in a vice - you just can't tear your eyes away from the page no matter what is going on. So imagine the moment this dropped through my letterbox? Massive excitement. I did a little bit of a dance - I'm not proud of it, I most likely looked like a fool, but who cares? Not me! That's who! And after said dance, I ran upstairs to finish the book I was reading at the time so I could get started. And boy was it worth it.
I will be honest, Undone isn't what I expected. I didn't expect there to be massive twists, but there are! I should of known! You're a sneaky one Cat! Very sneaky! I should of guessed from her previous books that there'd be some kind of twists, but oh no! I expected a pretty straight forward story of revenge. And boy was I wrong! As per the Cat Clarke usual, you are kept guessing and guessing and guessing again. What's going to happen next? How is so and so going to react to this? Massive gasp... I didn't see that coming at all!
And the ending! WHAT?!!?!?!?! NO!!!!!! IT CAN'T END LIKE THIS! NO! NO! NOOOO! Argh! I cried. Not even going to cry. Tears. Felt like such a wreck at the end of this book but it is so worth it!
As per usual the writing is of the highest calibre. It's so beautiful. So fluid. So easy. So natural. You just want to read it all day long! I'll be honest, Undone could of been double the length (it's already 502 pages, yippeee!!!) and I'd of loved every second and still not of wanted it to end. There's just something about Cat's writing that is so intoxicating, so compelling it just makes me want to weep that I will never be that good! She's pure awesome!
I really don't know what else I can say. There's not much I can say... So I'll plead... PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! JUST GO! GET THIS BOOK! NOW ON YOUR KINDLE, ON 31ST JANUARY IF YOU PREFER THINGS A BIT MORE PHYSICAL! JUST DO IT! PLEASE!
Okay, that's enough caps... I just cannot express my love for this book, for all of Cat's work! It's just so bloody awesome! So emotional, so raw, so real! That's the thing that I think makes this book all the better. It could of happened. It does happen. It's a sad fact of life that while there are gay men (and of course women) out there that are perfectly comfortable in their skin and don't hide it, there are others that may appear confident, or not, that hate it, hide it, try to shy away from it, and ultimately there are those that go to the extremes. That's what I think gives this book so much power, so much punch. Kai could be real. He is real.
I'm going to cut this review here, I think, before I ramble on anymore. Just please get it in your life! It's heartbreakingly beautiful and made of awesome!! Thank you so much to Quercus for my review copy and for publishing such awesomeness! And of course thanks to Cat for writing such an awesome story... And for making me cry! Cheers mate! Cheers! Haha!
Originally posted on Empire Of Books.
on 6 January 2013
I read this book last night and its still all I'm thinking about. I'm usually onto my next book straight away but this is just staying with me. I don't want to go into the plot and spoilers so I'll just say READ IT! There is just no option not to.
Undone is only the second of Cat Clarke's books I've read (I know, I know - please don't throw things at me!) but it's the best so far. I was utterly hooked right off the bat and I truly do think Cat is one of the UK's best YA writers. She doesn't hold anything back and goes straight for the tough stuff, even if it's a bit grim and sad. Real life is tough, so it's great to read a book that doesn't gloss over that small fact.
The whole premise of Undone is a sad one; Jem's best friend Kai has committed suicide and written monthly notes to her to be read posthumously. Jem is of course struggling to come to terms with the loss of Kai, and she eventually turns to revenge and sets off down a path that can't possibly have a positive outcome.
Jem and Kai are both excellent characters, particularly Kai who we only really get to see through his letters and Jem's memories. He's kind and thoughtful, doing the best he can go ensure Jem will be okay after he's gone. Jem is grieving and angry, and the only thing she knows how to do is punish those who made Kai's life so bad that the only way out was for him to end it. They're at very different ends of the spectrum in terms of how they are as people, but personality wise they're just the best fit.
Undone isn't a particularly easy read due to its dark subject matter, but it is an honest one. Cat Clarke doesn't hold back on reality, and what transpires after the first few chapters is actually pretty shocking. Revenge is a dangerous path to go down, and it always, always has consequences. Jem learns this the hard way, and the novel has a fantastically ambiguous ending that can be taken one of two ways. It's a clever way to finish the story, and it stayed with me for quite a few weeks after I put the book down.
Undone is a book I should have read sooner, but in any case I'm glad it was worth the wait. It's a fairly long novel clocking in it just under five-hundred pages, but it never feels like that. I could have carried on reading Kai's letters and Jem's attempts to honour his wishes for another five-hundred pages, and my only complaint is that it had to end at all. This is hard, topical writing at its best and I enjoyed every page.
on 15 July 2013
I'm a big fan of Cat Clarke, so I was super excited to read Undone, though I was worried about how heavy and depressing it would be, being about suicide. Undone does have it's moments, but it's brilliant!
When a video of Kai is put online, outing his sexuality, he kills himself. Jem, his best friend is distraught. Not only is he her best friend, but she's in love with him, and the loss is more than she can bear. The only thing that is keeping her going is working out who outed Kai, and making them pay.
Kai commits suicide before the book starts, but we actually get to know Kai through Jem telling us about the past. We get to see how they met, and their whole childhood together, and the events that lead up to his death, so we get a real idea of who Kai is. At the very beginning I was reminded of the novel Good Girls by Laura Ruby, as both books deal with the same ideas, except in Good Girls, the main character is a straight female and doesn't commit suicide. As the book progressed, I was reminded of P.S. I Love You by Celia Ahern, as, before he kills himself, Kai writes letters to Jem, delivered after, to read each month for a year. Some of the letters are sweet, and some depressing. You get a real idea for how much Kai loved Jem - platonically - but also how much he's hurting from having everyone know he's gay, without him having any control over it. I was originally a little surprised at how quickly after the incident Kai commited suicide, not seeming to want to even try facing people and seeing if he could get through it, but Clake was inspired to write Undone by the Tyler Clementi case, who committed suicide shortly after internet bullies watched him with another man on webcam, so I understand it a little more now.
I didn't particularly warm to Jem, but Undone is one of those books where you don't have to like the main character to really enjoy the book. I didn't dislike Jem, I just didn't love her. Despite not being her biggest fan, I still had moments of sympathy for her, of relating to her, of respecting her, and of cheering her on. The cheering her on aspect might seem a little weird; the things Jem does to get her own back are quite severe, and I would be quite shocked and disturbed by her actions. Yet at the time of reading, I had just lost a friend of my own. It was for completely different reasons0, but the feeling that their gone and there's nothing you can do is just awful. Jem could do something - get revenge. It was all rooted in anger, despair and grief, and really wasn't the most healthy thing for her to do, yet I could completely understand, and because she could, I wanted her too, and was egging her on in my head.
Yet, as I said, there were things she did that were just unsettling and uncomfortable to me. Plus I had several theories, and if I was right, oooh, things were going to be bad. My theories were right, but in a surprising way, like "Oh, I hope it's not going to turn out that....", but didn't actually think that would be the way things turned out. So I was surprised when I turned out I Was right, and my heart just sank. It hurt to be right. It was just so awful. I was all teary, for more than one person, for the whole situation, and ugh, it was just so, so sad. And Jem is the cause of her own downfall, I think. She's so judgemental, and everything is black and white, she can't bring herself to see things differently, and she's like this even before Kai's death. For example, popular people are to be hated because, as they're popular, they're shallow and stupid and up themselves. Well, actually, maybe they're not? But she can't take a step back and look at things from a different angle. I believe it's this way of viewing things and people that ultimately causes all her problems.
Because most of the book is all about Jem's grief and her revenge, there isn't a huge discussion about sexuality, but throughout the novel you're completely aware that it's all about sexuality - Kai is dead, and he's dead because he committed suicide after an online homophobic attack. You're constantly aware of this, even if sexuality isn't brought up all that often. When it does come up, it's mostly in Kai's letters, with his thoughts on life because of his sexuality and after the online bullying.
Undone is an awesome novel; it's tragic, it's powerful, and it really tugs at your heartstrings. The ending is just so unexpected, and completely knocked me for six. So heart-wrenching! I feel there is potential for a companion novel about one of the other characters in the book after the ending, a completely different story with different themes and issues. I wonder if Clarke would write it. Either way, I'm most definitely a huge Cat Clarke fan, and I am so excited for whatever she has for us next!
on 8 June 2014
Having devoured Entangled and Torn the moment I got my grubby little mitts on them I was counting down the days to December 27th, when I could snap up a copy of Undone on my iPad. However, the lovely folks at Quercus surprised me and on one gloomy afternoon at the beginning of the month a proof copy clattered through my letter box. I was very excited, to say the least. I started Undone there and then and finished it a couple of days later, completely blown away by the mash up of an incredible plot and Clarke's signature style of prose.
Simply put, Undone is astounding.
What's interesting is that we're aware of one of the biggest events in the book, Kai's suicide, before we even crack the spine. The events in Undone take place before and after Kai's death and there's also a nifty change in tense, with one section of the book taking place before a key scene, in the past tense and the events of 'after' unravelling in the present tense. This is something that could have gone horribly wrong but the way Clarke handles it just makes the story even stronger, especially as we approach the ending, where the sense of immediacy is particularly compelling.
Kai and Jem's relationship is the driving force behind the entire story and, although he's alive for only a tiny portion of the book, I really felt as though I got to know Kai as a person. Getting to know Kai so well, knowing that he'd committed suicide, really made me get on board with Jem's actions and made it a lot easier to understand why she did the things she did. I realise those last couple of sentences are terrible vague and I am sorry for that but I don't want to give away a single one of Undone's many, many twists and turns. I knew relatively little about Undone before I started reading and raced my way through, heart in mouth, so do avoid spoilers at all costs; it makes for a much more exciting experience that way.
About two thirds of the way through the book I thought I had the story all figured out. I was sure I could guess what the denouement would be and I was convinced I'd guessed everything down to the final scene. If I'm honest, I was a little disappointed with the ending I'd prematurely decided Clarke had gone for - which is why it was particularly awesome when she THREW THE RULE BOOK OUT OF THE METAPHORICAL WINDOW and delivered one of the most amazing, shocking endings I've read in YA for a long old time. As far as I'm concerned, the ending is what makes Undone trip across from awesome to perfection. It's just brilliant.
As always, the narrative and dialogue in Undone is sharp, snappy and painfully funny. Clarke creates realistic teenage voices like no other writer and her books are so subtly visual I can always picture every single scene in my head as I'm reading. She's an extremely clever writer, too, holding back information until it absolutely needs to be revealed and creating cliffhangers in such a way that they urge you to read on, rather than being frustrating.
Building on the strengths she already displayed in Entangled and Torn, Clarke takes everything one step further in Undone. It's tighter, funnier and more extreme in every sense and is, without question, the most exciting book I've read in 2012. It's impossible to finish one of Cat's books and not have an urgent need to talk about it to everybody who crosses your path for the next month and Undone is absolutely no exception to that rule, which I shall now dub the Cat Clarke Effect.
on 23 June 2013
Oh my God. When it comes to this book, there are no words. I have just had every emotion thrusted upon me. I am still struggling to think about anything else but this book. Wow. Its so cleverly written, you get in the head of Jem, you are terrified for her, pity her and even hate her.
The characters are almost real but the problems this book covers are very real. The start grips you with all fingers, the middle is slower, giving you mixed feelings about the characters but the end is so real its unrealistic. The last chapter is a work of art, if your not already crying then you will be in the last chapter.
The twist makes you think that something could happen that you wouldn't think would! (TRYING NOT TO SPOIL IT!) This book is just simply the best. The only reason you wouldn't read it is that its a bit rude!
The letter aspect is brilliant! It ables Cat Clarke explain some thought-provoking things from Kai's view! I would like to know more about kai. Each letter is very carefully written with personality and emotion which kept me interested!
The reason i choice this book is because the modern dilemmas it covers and the cover. I bought the sample first to make sure it wasn't some predictable love story. I haven't regretted buying this book!
I would deffo recommend this book to any 12+ girl or boy which is ready for realistic issues written fantastically! Get ready for the tears as it was only at the end i realized how much i got attached to Jem!
on 10 June 2013
I just finished this book yesterday after spending 2 days completely hooked to it and I am desperately sad it is over. The storyline gripped me right from the start and the emotions never let up.
Jem has been in love with her best friend Kai for years even though she knows nothing can come of it because he is gay, when he is outed it ends with him committing suicide. The raw pain Jem feels is absolutely devastating and the flashbacks through the years of their friendship show just how special it was. One month after Kai's death when Jem is actually planing to end her own life Kai's sister appears at her door with an envelope full of letters from Kai to Jem for her to open on the 23rd of each month. The letters really moved me, I could just feel Jem's connection to Kai through them and how she must have felt getting new messages from him.
She ends up becoming angry and determined to find out who outed Kai and destroy them and this leads her to get involved with the popular gang at school where new friendships are formed and possibly a new love interest.
I did actually guess fairly early on who was responsible for the video getting leaked which outed Kai but there are some unbelievable twists at the end which had my jaw dropping. The ending of the book is extremely powerful.
If you have never read a Cat Clarke book you are missing out, Entangled and Torn are both brilliant but this in my opinion is far and away her best book and actually one of the best books I have read!
on 24 May 2013
Undone follows Jem Halliday whose best friend Kai has just commited suicide after being outed as gay in a video posted online. I have to praise Clarke for writing such instantly recognisable characters. Everyone in this book was so true to life and I think she has British secondary school experiences absolutely spot on. We live in a world where teens sneak out, drink and have sex and Undone doesn't attempt to sugar coat that fact, for which I am so relieved to see.
This book also covers some pretty hardhitting issues and does it with the perfect balance of honesty and sensitivity. What happens to Kai is shocking, but suicide is definitely an issue that needs to be talked about openly. Undone also highlights the battle people like Kai face when faced with being open about their sexuality. It was just heartbreaking read Jem talk about her hopes for a world where sexuality isn't something that people are judged for and bullied because of.
On to the plot itself! I loved the way Undone was written with the story alternating between the present were Kai has died and the past where we see the build up to his death. My favourite part was the letters from Kai which were interspersed throughout the book. It meant that we got to know (and fall in love with!) Kai as a character by hearing his voice and living his story in his own words despite the fact he isn't present in Jem's life anymore. He was such a brilliant character and someone I think everyone would want to have as a friend, which is what makes this book all the more heartbreaking.
The majority of the story revolves around Jem's plot to get revenge for Kai's death and target the people behind it. I was torn at times over what I thought of Jem's actions. I never really managed to connect with her as a character. Whilst I was completely sympathetic to her situation, I sometimes struggled to get inside her head and understand why she thinks the things she does. For example, she talks a lot about hating life (even before Kai's death) and in particular hating her parents and I never quite understood why she felt that way. It made her come across as more stroppy than troubled at times.
Aside from that, I was completely gripped to Jem's story and the twists and turns that accompany it. It was really fascinating seeing her become this completely different person as she works at getting close to the popular kids by choosing to act like them. She develops and changes so much throughout the story and although I didn't always agree with her actions (and there were several uncomfortable moments) it made for an addictive and intense plot.
Where this book really blew me away was the ending. I couldn't stop reading the last few hundred pages and after I'd finished I felt like I needed my shattered heart piecing back together! I went on such a rollercoaster ride emotionally reading Undone. I'll definitely be checking out Cat Clarke's future books because this was another phenomenally written story full of powerful messages and fascinating characters that shook me up and broke me down!
This review was also posted on my blog.
on 12 February 2013
I've loved every other Cat Clarke book I've read, and so I thought I'd really like this book. Although, I have to say, the blurb didn't really have me convinced, and I even put off reading this book for a while because I didn't think I'd like it. Well, I was SO wrong.
I loved the characters. All of them. Every single character seemed to be so well thought out, they were all very unique and had some kind of complexity to them. I have to admit, at times, Gem did annoy me. She's a very needy character, but I can understand why, if I went through half of what she went through I would be too! But I could see why she carried out all her actions, why she did what she did, and why she took things so far to find out the truth.
The plot... it is just too incredible to describe. One minute I was on Jem's side, the next on one of 'Team Popular's' side. Everything that should have been explained was, and I didn't find one boring part in this book. Not one part of this book is predictable, everything played out as the author intended it too and when I found out the truth I was shocked. Absolutely shocked. I was actually shaking and crying by the end - and a book NEVER does that to me. And the ending... wow, it's heart wrenching, unexpected and perfect. It's a perfect end for this book.
You'd be mad to not read this book... it's perfect. I wouldn't have changed one thing. I finished this book last night (At two in the morning because I couldn't put it down until I'd finished it) and I still can't stop thinking about it, wondering about the other characters... I have to keep reminding myself it's FICTION. The book just felt so real. I think this may be one of the best books I have ever read, and I don't throw that comment around lightly. This book is perfect, and if you don't read it... well... your loss I guess. JUST READ IT!!!