Friday, May 9, 2014

Book Review: Undone by Cat Clarke


Pages: 384
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 6, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."
Jem Halliday and her best friend, Kai, have always been inseparable since they were kids.  As they got older, Jem realized she was in love with Kai, which makes things a little awkward as she comes to realize that Kai is actually gay.  She accepts it (she's a little heartbroken though) and they are like two peas in a pod. They even have plans to escape their boring (and small minded) town to go to London after high school and really live their lives.  This all changes one night at a party that Kai convinced Jem to go to as his sister (a.k.a. popular mean girl Louise) invited him.  Jem is hesitant, but decides to go with Kai anyway. At the party, Kai is filmed in a compromising position with another male and someone leaks this video online, essentially outing him as gay before he even had the chance to tell the world himself. This devastates him and he now becomes a target for bullies.  Kai can't take it anymore and commits suicide, which in turn, leaves Jem in a fragile state.  She is even considering ending her own life until she receives a letter from Kai, including a letter for each month for up to a year after his death.  This gives her a purpose: she wants to find out who is responsible for leaking that video online and she wants to take them down.  Cat Clarke's addicting story about revenge is so much more than just that. Undone examines dark topics, makes you really think, and pulls on your heartstrings.  I haven't felt so much for a book since If I Stay by Gayle Forman.

Jem is such a cool girl in Undone. I loved her relationship with Kai. She's tough and can handle anything when he's by her side, but once he ends his life, she is a shell of a person.  That is until she starts to live for Kai's letters; plus, she has a plan to figure out who did this to Kai.  She receives a tip that it's the "cool" crowd who outed him and Jem decides to ditch her "goth" look. She is going to infiltrate the popular group in order to destroy them from the inside out.  But things get sticky when she starts to find out the truth and even become friends with a few of them.  

Kai is the real star of Undone. I loved him. His letters made me laugh out loud and he radiated such a fun personality. I wish there was more of him in Undone, but I think that's what makes it special as his letters were only once a month. Some of the letters broke my heart and I found myself really becoming emotional about his life, his ultimate choice to end it, and how he felt there were no other answers. It's heartbreaking. 

As Jem gets answers surrounding Kai's video, she finds out more upsetting things and without giving too much away, things get crazy.  I wanted her to figure out who was responsible, but once she started to get in too deep, I wanted her to just move on from things and live her life for her, as Kai would have wanted. But she didn't choose that path. She was hyper focused on her revenge plot in Undone, which was sad as well. I think she felt she couldn't give up her plot…that's she would be a traitor if she did.

OH, Cat Clarke with your plot twists and heartbreaking moments. I don't want to say too much, but Undone butchered me. Oh, the sobbing.  Cue all the tears. I was ugly crying through so many moments of this book. It was heartbreaking, honest, difficult, so sad, and at times, hopeful. It really made me think about people and different situations others have to go through.  You never really know what battles other people are secretly fighting and kindness as well as acceptance is so important in life. I think Undone reminds readers of that lesson.  

If you are looking for a powerful read this summer and one that will stay with you, I highly recommend Undone. But like all good books, this one put me through the whole gamut of human emotion…so be ready to feel it all when you pick up Undone this summer.


8 comments:

  1. This sounds both sad and intriguing. I absolutely love books that include letters. They are my favorite, but I have to admit that I struggle a bit with books about suicide. I do think I'll give this a try if I can find it at my library. Great review!

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    1. It definitely is! It was hard to read a book focused on suicide (sad!) but it's such a good read. I hope you get to read it soon. Thanks for visiting, Natalie!

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  2. I may have to buy this one for the library's teen collection. It sounds so good though not something I'd think of as a summer book since I like to read lighter stuff then. Thanks for your review!

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    1. I always read lighter books in the summer as well, but I thought I would branch out. I am SO glad I did. Thanks for checking it out, Christina!

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  3. I still haven't read If I Stay either

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    1. OMG. You need to immediately, especially before the movie comes out. ;)

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  4. This sounds really lovely. Your reaction to Kai reminds me of my reaction to T.J. of Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie. He, too, is gay but have died while in service. We don't know much about him, but his presence is palpable throughout the book.

    Lovely review, Christina.

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    1. That's exactly how I felt about Kai…I'll have to check out Personal Effects…it does sound similar! Thanks for visiting!!

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