Format: ARC Paperback (won from Cat Clarke's website. It is the very first ARC. This makes me swell with happiness!)
Expected Publication: January 5th 2012
Published By: Quercus
Marketed at 12+
Taken from Goodreads
Four girls. One dead body. A whole lot of guilt.
Alice King isn’t expecting the holiday of a lifetime when she sets off with her classmates on a trip to the Scottish wilderness, but she’s not exactly prepared for an experience beyond her darkest nightmares… Alice and her best friend Cass are stuck in a cabin with Polly, the social outcast, and Rae, the moody emo-girl. Then there’s Tara – queen of mean. Powerful, beautiful and cruel, she likes nothing better than putting people down. Cass decides it’s time to teach Tara a lesson she’ll never forget. And so begins a series of events that will change the lives of these girls forever... A compelling story of guilty secrets, troubled friendship and burgeoning
Okay, Cat Clarke. I don't know whether to fall at your feet and worship you, or hunt you down and punch you in the face! But to explain why I'm feeling so torn (he he... that was unintentional but see what I did there?) would be very spoilerific. So let's get back to the whole reviewing part of this review.
I read and reviewed Clarke's first book, Entangled, a short while back. You can read my gushy praise of that incredible book here. I adored it. I adored it so much I gave it five stars (after a brief hostage situation with one of the stars anyway... For the record, Cat Clarke does not negotiate with blogorrists!). So, when I saw that Clarke was having a little competition on her blog and the prize would be the very first ARC of Torn, I had to enter.
As luck would have it, I won! I did a proper little happy dance around my kitchen when I found out (though it seems half of Twitter knew before I did, as it was through them that I heard the good news) and proceeded to sit by my mailbox and await my delivery. It arrived and I squeeled a li'l bit.
Then life, as it does, got in the way for a little while. You know how it is. Shit happens and sometimes the rug get whipped out from under our feet. Have I ever mentioned that I have the ugliest feet in the universe? But anyway... After I got the rug back in place beneath my hooves and nailed it down for good measure, I finally got around to reading Torn this afternoon. I finished it about ten minutes ago and just had to review it as soon as I possibly could. But how to do this without spoiling the ride for the rest of you?!
Let me begin by saying this: Cat Clarke is the best author of YA I have read this year. In Torn, just like in Entangled, she creates characters who you will recognise. I could see aspects of Alice in myself. The way she remembers fishing for parental compliments after parents' evenings. The way she gets annoyed if someone uses more than three dots in an ellipsis. But it wasn't just the protagonist that was painted with these evocative hues of realism.
- The "queen bee-atch", Tara, and the best-buddy Cass, both reminded me of times when my tongue was, perhaps, a little too sharp.
- The adorable Jack had trouble expressing the emotions most important to him in just the same verbally-vomiting way that I do.
- Emo, music-obsessed and antisocial Rae had a few familiar traits.
- But most of all, Alice's English teacher, Daley, reminds me a lot of me! A fairly newbie teacher who wants to save her pupils and who hopefully, remembers school well enough to see through the charades that the young-uns like to put on.
Cat Clarke is really good at creating flawed characters. I don't just mean the trivial flaws that are often prevalent in YA, (you know what I mean: "My hair is too frizzy...", "My boobs are too small", "I'm a social outcast..."). No no no. Clarke goes for the big flaws which are far more real. She creates characters who act in all the wrong and improper ways when faced with drama and calamity. They fu...dge up. They don't just mess up because it's good for the story, or because it adds necessary conflict. Her characters mess up in all the ways that real people mess up. We chicken out. We swear and get horny. We act selfishly. We hurt people to console ourselves. We bitch. We get jealous. We lie.
We do all of these things and yet whenever we read a story, don't we see ourselves as the hero? Despite all our own flaws, we all want to be the one to save the Nakatomi Towers, or defeat the Alien, or take on the Terminators. Clarke gives us protagonists who sometimes do bad things but who also want their "Yippy-ki-yay-Get-away-from-her-you-bitch-Come-with-me-if-you-want-to-live" moment. This, to me, is real and it therefore makes me really care about and empathise with her characters.
Which is great. Except Cat Clarke likes her realistic narratives so much that sometimes she has to go and put her characters in painful and impossible situations. She hurts them and, through her razor sharp prose, cuts us too! Deeply.
So darn you, Cat Clarke! You've made me cry for the second time, and for that I kind of want to throttle you and beg you to take it easy on your poor protagonists. At the same time, you've made damn sure that I will go out and buy every single book you ever write, because you're bloody terrific! Ours is to be a love-hate relationship, I think! He he he.