Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Undone ~ Cat Clarke (earc) review [@SourcebooksFire]

*Apologies if anyone gets this in email twice - it reverted to draft sometime between publishing and now (next week)*

Sourecebooks Fire
May 8, 2014
378 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

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.

Undone is a tale of both the bitter and the bittersweet. Jem Halliday has had her best friend, Kai, by her side, always there, since the day his family moved in. She would like a relationship more than just friendship with the Kai, who's gay, but knows it's not to be. That's okay.

Until Jem loses Kai and is not sure she can go on without him.

It's once she has finally decided to continue, with a bit of posthumous help from Kai, that she knows what needs to be done: Jem wants revenge.

Revenge and/or bullying can be a good start for a book (see Some Girls Are and Burn for Burn). I even think, wrong or right, that Jem's motivation here makes a lot of sense. When her best friend, her only friend, kills himself after something was done to him, it makes absolute sense that she wants someone to blame. Someone to get back at, to ruin.

I'm still unsure of whether or not Undone worked for me in the way the author intended. Jem decides who is responsible with, what seems like, very flimsy evidence. As she commits wholeheartedly to the Plan, readers are left wondering if she's chosen correctly. As she takes action, Jem just feels mean and (while wondering if they are in fact guilty, like she thinks) you end up feeling bad for for the 'bad' guys.

It is obvious Jem is in a great deal of pain, a great deal. She is coming undone, becoming this other person, so unlike her previous self,  I didn't like her and wanted either someone else or some burst of realization to help her see herself. The story is written in such a way, with Jem conducting herself in a way, that it makes sense she's not being questioned. When she makes an observation about another character's therapy, though, it's impossible to see that Jem shouldn't be going this alone.

Despite Jem's grief, pain, and her losing her way, two of the things that happen with her Plan seemed not to fit to me. They were too similar to what it was she was getting revenge for. As hurt and confused as she was, I couldn't believe how quickly she could justify those actions to herself.

I did not like Jem in Undone. I wanted something - or someone - to give her a sort of reality check. Yet, Cat Clarke's novel is incredibly readable and plays out the tension very well. You'll turn the pages quickly, wondering what Jem will do in the end; wondering how her plan for revenge will conclude - and how she'll fare. Undone did not work for me, but I will be moving Clarke's other novels up my TBR list and giving them a try.

(While it may be present in the finished version, in the arc there was no author's note, afterword, etc which I found a bit odd given the subject matter of the novel. The National Suicide Prevention hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and The Trevor Project for LGBTQ teens and young adults considering suicide can be reached at 1-866-488-7386.)

Rating: 6/10

thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my egalley to review

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