Paperback, 502 pages.
Release date: January 31st 2013.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
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