Friday, 21 January 2011
Review: Entangled by Cat Clarke
Released: January 6th, 2011
Grade rating: B+
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?
Entangled was one of my most anticipated books of 2010. I know Cat Clarke pretty well through Twitter and we met up in London last year, so I know she's a cool dude. I was quite nervous about reading her book, as I always am when I read stuff written by my friends. I always wonder what to say if I hate it, how much to say if I love it, and what other people will think if I give it a glowing review. I can honestly say that Entangled is a brilliant book well worth everyone's time and attention, and it's so deserving of a place on British bookshelves.
We first meet Grace Carlyle as she wakes up in a strange place, not knowing why she's there or what's happened. That in itself is a scary start, made even creepier by the secrecy surrounding Ethan, her captor. All we get is a very vivid description of his physical attributes, along with an explanation of how he and Grace came to meet. It's gripping stuff right from the get-go, and that's even before we're treated to the story of Grace's last year or so. Cat Clarke expertly weaves the past with the present, with all of her time jumps effortlessly joining together to make one big addictive story.
Enter Sal and Nat, Grace's best friend and boyfriend, respectively. We meet Nat when Grace does, and so begins their somewhat frustrating relationship. It's deep and truly like an all-consuming romance, which is something I'm sure most of us are familiar with. It perfectly showcases that can't-get-him-out-of-my-head I-need-to-be-with-him kind of feeling which, if you've experienced it, you'll know can burn out quite easily. Running alongside Grace's romantic relationship with Nat is her friendship with Sal. They've been friends for ages, and are so close they're practically family. Their loyalty to each other is tested numerous times throughout the story, as is the way with teenage friendships: they're the most important thing at the time, but they can quite easily be torn apart.
Entangled is brilliantly written, and has a very realistic tang to it. There's swearing, sex and family disagreements, which is exactly what you'd expect from a 17-year-old. Clarke doesn't skirt around any of the more mature teenage happenings, and instead writes them with a sense of understanding and experience. I love authors who tell it like it is, and that's exactly what Entangled showcases. It's realistic to a T, and I only wish there was more fiction like this.
Where Entangled didn't quite work for me was the ending. At first I just didn't get it at all. I sat there in a confused daze, before retracing my steps and rereading the last 30 pages. It helped, and I think I'm now pretty much right with my thoughts (thanks for clarifying, Cat!). When it comes to psychological thrillers, I personally have a hard time wrapping my head round more complicated conclusions. I'm not saying Entangled's end was overly complicated, but it was for me at the time. Whether I read too fast and missed something the first time, I'm not sure, I just know I didn't get it. Everything was great up until then, and I think if I read it again I'd have no problems, as I now know what I'm looking for.
Entangled is one of the first YA British debuts of 2011, and I really hope it's a sign of things to come. Cat Clarke has done herself proud with her twisted story of how everything can change in an instant, and how sometimes there's no way to avoid it. Life follows uneven paths, and you never know if meeting someone on a bus will change your life. For Grace it's the start of something new, though you'll have to read her story to find out how it all plays out. Go on, you won't regret it.