on 24 May 2012
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.
on 29 December 2011
I had high hopes for this book already, and I bought it on my new Kindle straight away.
I did not regret it by any stretch.
The plot was well established as it was well-written. I think if anyone else had written it, it would have been hardly believable and a bit damp.
However, the idea was perfectly executed and great to read.
The protagonist's voice was clear and you felt like you were her.
I wish there was an infinite-star option.
on 12 April 2012
When deciding to read this book I wasn't expecting much, I had never read a book by this author before and I usually find it hard to grasp an author's style of writing at first. However from the first page you feel a sense of mystery and suspense and I was engrossed in the story already.
Alice is a character everyone will be able to connect with, she feels like a social outsider just trying to climb the rails to reach popularity but in a subtle way that you can connect with. Throughout the book I was so sympathetic with Alice, she felt like she was facing the world on her own and it's a case of what is right and what is wrong, Alice is still figuring that out as she treasures secrets which are killing her inside. Clarke manages to include lots of characters that have an element of mystery to them, she describes the characters so well throughout the book I felt a connection to all of them and although their choices were not always clear that is what made the story so engaging and exciting.
There is defiantly an element of all kinds of genre's in here. I felt a really 'Horror book' kind of aspect just from the way events were described and the way my heart was pounding throughout, dreading what would happen on the next page! however there is an element of forbidden romance in the book which makes it appealing to all types of readers, there is also some cleverly written humour.
The way the story was paced worked really well and the structure was fantastic, there is a cliff hanger at the end of almost every chapter which persuades you to read on. When reading I thought this was going to be a very predictable book. However the story has the ability of change in just a matter of words and leads to suspense.
The title is a great summery for the whole book which you can't really understand until the end. The title is basically the summery of Alice choosing between what she feels is right and wrong and she is torn over which to pick. The ending was fantastic and left the element of mystery. The ending was a little predictable but the way the book was written throughout through you off course leading to a perfectly written ending.
I would highly recommend this book for teenagers. I am 15 and I thoroughly enjoyed this book although I would recommend it for 14+ as some content might be slightly disturbing for younger readers. This book is most defiantly not for the faint hearted and it will leave you thinking even after the turn of the last page.
on 15 February 2012
There are things in life you wish would never ever happen to you. The death of one of your classmates during a school trip is one them. Especially when it's after a prank gone wrong organised by you and your friends and your life is suddenly divided between Before and After. Alice King is barely starting to find her bearing after her mother's passing when tragedy strikes again in her life. Her childhood friend turned Mean Girl nemesis Tara disappears during a school trip. Alice was sharing a room with her and three other girls who weren't very high in the school's social hierarchy, and after Tara goes too far in bullying one of the girls, the four of them decide to teach her a lesson.
Alice's journey through her emotions, peer pressure and her sense of what is right is excruciating to read. I kept thinking that I would never be able to be in her position and be a functioning human being. The guilt in the book becomes another character, a dark cloud constantly above the girls' heads, and goes directly under your skin, so much so that you won't be able to put the book down.
But even if Alice is the narrator, the story also delves in the lives of Cass, who might have feelings for girls instead of boys; Polly, the outcast everyone mocks who knows this is a chance for her to change everything; Rae, the emo girl no one really cares about but who cares more than what you might think; and Tara, who is not the type of girl you might think she is.
With all the girls, you realise that if you take the time to get to know them, they are completely different from their "social profile". Someone may be very funny or nice, or even talented but unless you make the effort, the person will stay forever branded with a label. Bullying is a big part in the book and I loved how the story is about bullied people but also about how peer pressure works both ways and Queen of Mean Tara feels compelled to act a certain way.
Like I did with Entangled's Grace, I got into Alice's head from the first paragraphs. Cat Clarke's talent is how she manages to *get* teens. Alice felt like a real teenager, full of flaws, half of them only in her head. She is filled with powerful and conflicting emotions and you see how she struggles to stay afloat without drowning in them. There are things in life which you won't be able to change and where one small decision will tip the balance one way or the other. Even though the story is told from Alice's point of view, we get an insight into the personalities of Cass, Polly, Rae and Tara and, my god, did my heart break for them.
I literally fell for this book. It tells the story of four girls dealing with a tragedy and those girls' emotions, personalities and internal conflicts are raw and heart-breaking. With some hints of psychological thriller, you will not be able to put this book down or forget these girls' story.
on 9 February 2012
I think Torn by Cat Clarke is the book I was most looking forward to read. Cat Clarke's previous book, Entangled, was just that good - very emotional and hard-hitting that I could not wait to get my hands on Torn. And it's sometimes scary to have such huge expectations for a book. But Torn lived up to all of the expectations I had. I loved the flawed characters, the emotions I felt witnessing this revenge against the mean girl gone wrong and all the guilt and horrible feelings afterwards as everyone involved tries to get on with their lives. It was a wonderful, emotional book and I think I'll always be excited about reading new books by Cat Clarke!
Torn is told from the point of view of Alice King who recently went on a school trip to Scotland. There, sharing a cabin with her best friend Cass, social reject Polly, emo-girl, Rae and Mean Girl Tara. When Tara's bullying and mean girl ways go a bit too far, Cass and Polly decide to teach Tara a lesson in humiliation.
What happens next was difficult to read, but it was also really gripping and I found myself unable to tear my eyes away from the pages. I loved how conflicted these characters are and how much in particular Alice struggles with the choices and decisions that were made. There's a deeper layer of guilt to Alice's story as she begins a romantic relationship with Tara's younger brother Jack. How can she carry on with Jack and not tell her what she knows about his sister's death?! And to make things worse, Tara isn't gone for good. Instead, Tara haunts Alice.
Torn really has so many great things going for it - a really ruthless mean girl, some hugely flawed and relateable characters, a sweet love story, a dead girl, and a ghost! But what I loved so much about it is how much emotion there is, especially from Alice. Not just guilt and horror at what happens, but all the complicated feelings that come with first love and a friendship that have ended badly. I love Alice's relationship with her father particularly as they are both still grieving from the loss of Alice's mother.
Torn as a brilliant book, one that really made me think about seemingly small actions that mean so much more to other people. It made me think about how I treat other people, how honesty and doing the right thing can feel like such a grey area. Mostly it just made me feel. Angry and confused and hurting and hopeful - and I think that's a sign of a great story. Torn is a book not to miss!
Cat Clarke is one of those authors who I absolutely love as it is completely effortless to read her fantastic books because the characters are well written, the story flows brilliantly and is engaging from the very first word right through to the very last.
The main storyline follows a group of girls who are involved in a prank gone wrong and looks at how they try to cover up the horrific consequences of it. What I found harrowing about this book was that the storyline was realistic in that you could see how it might actually happen and how it was eye opening to see how easy it was for some of the characters to be involved in such a horrible thing and go about covering up without any outward remorse.
The storyline reminded me of the film 'The Hole' which is based on a book by Guy Burt and just like that film I loved the message the story had about both the different ways people deal with guilt and the price of popularity and friendship.
Alice is an interesting character as she is instantly likable and easy to relate to throughout the story. I found it interesting to see how she dealt with the aftermath of the accident and found myself empathising with her. I did like seeing the background to the relationship between her and Tara and how telling their story was about the lengths people go to to be popular.
All in all a crackingly good read which I enjoyed thoroughly and would completely recommend to others.
TORN tells the story of five teenage girls. During a school trip to Scotland, they find themselves forced to share a cabin together. There is Alice, the narrator of the story; Cass, her best friend; Rae, the 'emo' girl; Polly, who is not quite so popular; and finally Tara, the one who is very popular but not so very nice. Without giving too much away, something goes horribly wrong and one of the girls ends up dead. But, it was an accident... right?
That is all of the story that I want to give away. Ultimately, TORN could almost be taken from the silver screen - it is the story of teenage politics going terribly wrong. It is also about how the different characters cope with what happened; how they cope with the secret that ties them together. Despite the storyline not being all that original, the book is still an enjoyable, gripping read.
There are some very clever and interesting twists along the way. All of the characters seem real, although it has been some time since I was a teenager, I do think that Clarke has got it just right. The girls are fickle, self-conscious, cruel and funny. Each of the characters bring something to the overall story, so that the way they react to what happens doesn't seem extreme or too false.
I would recommend this book as an easy, quick read. If you do like this, you may also want to check out her other book, ENTANGLED.
on 15 January 2012
Torn is a UK YA fiction book which makes a change from all the American YA Fiction i have been reading, Torn has a brilliant story line I was hooked from the first page.
Cat has written Torn from first person perspective which I love because i could really get into the story. Her writing style makes me feel familiar with everything she describes and how she describes it. Her characters are very realistic.
Alice is the main character and I really like her, she is a nice girl but not to nice, I think Cat done well with all the emotions Alice went through in the book. The themes that were covered in the book were mainly death related, Cat covered 3 different types of deaths very well, I think it helped that it was from first person perspective it takes some skill to make it all sound realistic, I was not surprised when i read up that Cat is an experienced writer and is the co-founder of a literary agency.
Alice's dad was another of my favourite characters, i liked his and Alice's relationship he was not only a father to Alice but also a friend, he seemed to have the right balance with her.
I enjoyed Polly's character i was very intrigued at how her character developed through the book, i really did not expect her to develop the way she did in the book.
I loved the whole book and everything about it, if Cat decides to write a follow on from this book i would be the first to buy it. Torn tells a story of how easily things can go terribly wrong, and that hiding a serious secret will eat you up inside until it can never be a secret anymore...
If you love young adult fiction then you will love this book, I think it is something different from the typical YA fiction that is out right now, just what we need to break away from the same vampire and fairy stuff being churned out.
on 22 December 2011
Drawing on scenarios more usually encountered in teen horror movies, Torn is the gripping story of schoolgirl politics getting way out of hand. Cat Clarke's follow up to bestselling debut novel Entangled takes a fresh look at what happens when a group of teenagers are given a taste of freedom on a school wilderness trip... with truly disastrous consequences. Part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, Torn is essentially a book about growing up - think coming-of-age story, but terrifying. It's about that moment when you realise that crying to your parents or hiding behind the sofa won't fix things - that sometimes life can spiral out of control and there's no way back to the safety of before.
Narrator Alice King is the type of character that readers will instantly empathise with. At school, she's neither queen bee nor outcast, instead occupying the no-man's land between the two extremes. Like many of us, she's accutely aware of the injustice perpetuated by the in crowd, but not quite brave - or powerful - enough to befriend those deemed Untouchable. Her own acceptance is far too tenuous to take such a risk. With insight and dark humour in equal measure, Torn really digs down into the truth about the high school social order, going beyond the simple mean-girls-vs-losers dynamic we often see perpetuated in popular culture and holding the mirror up to a reality that's far more complex.
Cat Clarke is an edgy writer, and that's her strength. She doesn't write tidy stories where enemies are safely dispatched and a happy ending is guaranteed for all. She writes in shades of grey, and the result is honest and raw narratives where things get messy and hearts get broken - sometimes readers' hearts. Even the love story that unfolds alongside Torn's central mystery is conflicted, brimming over with bittersweetness of the most poignant variety. Like Entangled, Torn sees its teenage protagonist forced to confront uncomfortable truths about herself, and in both cases that makes for fascinating reading. But where Torn surpasses Entangled is in the way it takes us on our own journey of self-discovery - the way Alice's story feels as though it's only one wrong decision away from being our own. Seriously scary stuff.
Torn is one hell of a book. It's stomach-churningly tense, twisty in the cleverest way and completely impossible to put down. I read it straight through in one go, on the edge of my seat, only pausing every now and then to remind myself to breathe. If you like your YA fiction dangerous and authentic, Torn is a must-read.
on 29 August 2012
Torn' by Cat Clarke is an amazing read, following hot on the heels of her successful 2010 debut `Entangled'. I was incredibly intrigued by the premise of this book which sounded a bit like Mean Girls but with a twist. I had a feeling that I wasn't going to be disappointed and I proved myself right because I absolutely loved every second of reading `Torn'. I found it totally gripping from start to finish. What I really loved was the fact that you knew something terrible was going to happen but you didn't know exactly what and that in itself was enough to get me reading long into the small hours of the night. I kept telling myself that I was just going to read one more chapter and then one more, but in the end I couldn't stop until I'd reached the conclusion of the story.
Clarke's writing is incredibly strong and powerful and this helped me to identify with all the characters, even those who I didn't immediately find particularly likable. My favourite was definitely Alice who narrates the events of the book and who seems to carry the biggest burden of guilt around with her about the tragedy which occurs. As a reader, I felt a great sense of helplessness that I could only watch as she becomes involved in something which spirals out of her control. She's not a bad person at all, but Clarke shows that even good people can sometimes stray off the right path and much of Alice's story is about her trying to put things right and face up to her actions. Her feelings and emotions are explored in detail throughout the book, as is the psychological impact of the event that takes place and I found myself empathising with her and the terrible decision she has to make.
There's romance in `Torn' as well, with Alice becoming involved with Jack, the brother of her former best-friend. The way their relationship was written was incredibly realistic and they made a great pairing. They didn't instantly fall head over heels in love with each other and this made the way the romance developed between them much more true to life.
I thought the ending of the book was absolutely spot on and I can't imagine a more perfect way of concluding the story. It actually moved me to tears! 'Torn' manages to be shocking, moving and gripping all at once and provides both mystery, thrills and romance. Cat Clarke has made a true fan out of me and I shall be waiting with anticipation for whatever she decides to write next.