Wednesday 27 February 2013

Book Review: Undone by Cat Clarke.

Product details:
Publisher: Quercus.
Paperback, 502 pages.
Release date: January 31st 2013.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Purchased.

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.

What if your whole life was taken away from you? Would you want to go on living, or would you want to get revenge?

Jem and Kai have best friends forever.  For Jem, though, Kai is not just a friend – he’s her everything. Kai is the person who makes Jem laugh like no other – the only person who really gets her at all.  And Jem is in love with Kai – she’s been in love with him her whole life.  But there’s one problem; Kai doesn’t feel that way about Jem, and he never will, because he’s gay.  Though she still crushes on Kai, Jem is learning to live with the fact that he’ll never be hers. While Jem is accepting of the fact that Kai is gay, not everybody is, and when Kai is ‘outed’ in very cruel and public way, he can’t deal with the fallout and commits suicide, leaving Jem all alone in the world.

Jem decides that there’s no point in living without Kai, but by chance or fate, on the very day that Jem decides to die, she receives a package containing a twelve letters from Kai, one to be opened each month for the year after Kai’s death.   So, Jem decides to live for one more year, and she decides that in that time, she’ll wreak revenge on the popular kids in school – led by golden couple Lucas and Sasha - that she holds responsible for Kai’s suicide.

Undone is Cat Clarke’s third novel, and is my first introduction to her work.  I’ve heard lots and lots of good things about Clarke’s books, but for one reason or another, Entangled and Torn are still sitting unread on my shelf.  Not for much longer though, because I loved Undone *so much* and now I can’t wait to read everything else by this talented author.  You know that excited feeling you get when you think you might just have found a new favourite author? That’s the feeling I got while I was reading Undone. It’s just that good!

So, what makes Undone so good?

Oh, well, just about everything – the writing, the teenage voice, which is pitch-perfect and oh, so believable, and the fact that Clarke tackles so many tough subjects – suicide, grief and homophobia to name a few – and does so head on – never sugar coating the fact that the world can be a cruel place full of nasty people sometimes.

The relationship between Kai and Jem also makes Undone a special read.  We mostly get to know Kai through his letters and through Jem’s memories of him, so it’s a testament to Clarke’s writing that even though I didn’t get to see a whole lot of him, I adored Kai. He certainly was a great guy, and it’s easy to understand why Jem feels like her life is over without him in it.  The pain Jem feels at the loss of Kai practically leaps from every page. It lets us get under Jem’s skin, and at times it’s almost as if we can see into her soul.

While I wanted to give Jem a hug at times and assure her that things would get better, I also wanted to talk her out of her revenge plot. But her grief is so raw and rage-filled that there was never any hope of that, because letting go of her revenge, would mean letting go of Kai, and even if she knows in her heart that it’s the right thing to do, Jem can’t allow herself that.

Honest, hard-hitting and heartbreaking, Undone will make you cry with its final twist – guaranteed. An outstanding and important book, I urge you to pick up a copy of Undone if you haven’t already done so. 


US readers: Sourcebooks have bought the rights to publish Undone in the US - I haven't heard a release date yet, but you can keep up to date with Undone in the US news by following Cat Clarke on twitter: @cat_clarke


  1. Leanna you always seem to be reviewing books that I'm dying to get my hands on! I love it even more because you always end up enjoying them! I've not read a book by Cat Clarke before either, but I have a good feeling bout this one! Lovely review! :)

  2.  This one is a must-read! So, so, so good!!

  3. Wow. This book sounds incredibly moving.  I was just about to ask you if it was out in the US and then I saw your note at the end. I will have to keep my eye out for a release date, because this sounds like a book I MUST get my hands on. Great review, Leanna!

  4. Whoa. That sounds like a huge story. I will have to check it out when it makes it to the US!

  5. I could sob just from reading your thoughts Leanna! I hurt for Jem and I haven't even read one page of this book yet. I so hope Sourcebooks releases it here this year! Beautiful review:):):)

  6. Undone was also my introduction to Cat Clarke's books and I totally agree with all of your points. It definitely will make people cry! The ending was so sad and had such a twist. I still haven't gotten over it! Lovely review!

  7.  I know!! I need to read her other books ASAP. I've heard a lot of people say that this is her best book, but hopefully the others are good too. :)

  8.  Thanks, Jenny! I think you'll enjoy this one -- it's pretty tough going at times, but a great read all the same. :)

  9. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy, just haven't found a local bookshop that stocks it yet!

  10.  Ooooh, hope you find a copy soon, Jesse. I think you'll love it! Such a great read! :)

  11. Yes! Cat gets the teen voice spot on! I'm so excited to see what you make of her other books Leanna, perfect review :)

  12. Becky @ Stories & Sweeties7 March 2013 at 22:21

    I loved Entangled and still haven't read Torn, bit I think after reading this review I will be ordering Undone NOW. :D   Sounds amazing and moving and heartbreaking.

  13. Vyki @ On The Shelf3 April 2013 at 18:50

    This sounds incredible and I can't wait to read it. Wish I knew when it was coming out here in the US! Great review I look forward to it even more now :-)

    Vyki @ On The Shelf

  14. According to Cat's Facebook you guys are looking at a Spring 2014 release. Believe me, though, it's worth the wait!

  15. I have just started reading this book and seeing this review has really made me want to find out what will happen. Can't wait :)


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