Sunday, 9 January 2011

Review: Entangled by Cat Clarke

'The same questions whirl round and round in my head: 
What does he want from me? 
How could I have let this happen? 
17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper - and no clue how she got there. 
As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she's tried to forget. There's falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there's something missing. As hard as she's trying to remember, is there something she just can't see? 
Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here? 
A story of dangerous secrets, intense friendships and electrifying attraction.

Entangled is not my usual read when I go for young adult fiction. I tend to go for fantasy or something based way back in the past – but the blurb (and the cover!) were too intriguing for me not to give it a go. In fact, from what little I could garner, I had no idea what genre the book would fall into, so I went in with an open mind, and wasn’t disappointed.

It was dark, it was heart breaking, but it was also funny and tinged with hope. It’s an impressive debut novel, and I’m looking forward to watching Cat Clarke’s career progress, because it’s going to take some doing to beat this first offering.

The plot is clever offering us a tale within a tale, as we try with Grace, to work out what she’s doing trapped in this room, but also the events that led up to her being here. Clarke keeps the reader guessing, only giving out the little titbits of information we need in tiny portions, so that it isn’t until the final few pages, that everything slots into place and we finally understand what’s happened. I was particularly impressed that both storylines were equally gripping – sometimes with multiple plots, the reader can become too engrossed in one to want to bother with the second, but the balance struck here is perfect.

Grace’s voice is incredible. I am always impressed by books that have used the first person narrative, and not only done it well, but staggeringly so. Robin McKinley’s ‘Sunshine’ springs to mind (one of my all-time favourite books) so the fact that I’m comparing the quality of Clarke’s first person narrative to that, is pretty impressive.

She strikes just the right line of boisterous, semi-aggressive teenager who has no idea how to deal with the emotions she’s faced with – or the situations she finds herself in. Grace plants herself clearly from page one, and the clear, at times tough and sometimes tender narrative does not relent. I wanted to wrap her in my arms and hug her, I wanted to throw things at her for being a moron, but at no point did I stop liking her. She was, despite all the bravado, so vulnerable, and so blind to the signs that it was heart breaking to read.

Also, perhaps slightly surprisingly given the darker elements of the book, I wasn't expecting to come across  some of the steamiest scenes I think I've read in young adult fiction. Ladies you might need a fan...

‘Entangled’ is an incredible read, and Cat Clarke is definitely one of the new authors to watch over the next few years. 

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