As you guys probably know, I love Cat Clarke's debut novel, Entangled. So, when Cat did a competition to win an ARC for her second novel, Torn, I jumped on it, giving her a song that gave the sense of impending doom (Requirm For A Tower). And, somehow, I won it. So, I got a copy of Torn SUPER EARLY (and signed with lovely words).
And yet I only just read it? Why, I hear you shout at your computer screens. Why? Well, two reasons. Reason number one: It got lost in my huge To Read Pile (one of the many faults with being a book blogger [I admit it, at last! I am a book blogger!] is you get loads of books to read. I'm not complaining, but you kinda lose track of the books you want to read and then you half forget till Twitter shouts out you). And the second reason: I loved Entangled and I didn't want to read this and go "Oh, ok. That ruins it. Thanks, Cat!".
So, when I was invited to Quercus for the unveiling of the cover of Cat's third novel, Undone, I apologised to Cat (again) and promised to read it. I forgot to tell her I decided later that evening that Torn would be my next read...
Let's chat story! Alice goes on a school trip to Scotland and she's fearing the worse. But that's nothing compared to her finding out she's sharing a cabin with Tara, queen of mean. So, when Tara and her groupies do something, Alice's best friend, Cass, decides to teach Tara a lesson she'll never forget. She ropes in social outcast, Polly, and moody emo, Rae, into her plans. But when it goes too far, all four girls must face living with the guilt with what they done...
And Cat isn't afraid to write dark scenes where you feel uncomfortable. Like in Entangled, she throws these scenes at us and, while we fidget a little in our seats, you still keep reading.
What I found the most interesting about this book, is that Cat doesn't go down the normal route. The book's main story has been done time and time again, but Cat tackles it differently. She focuses on the guilt that these characters have to deal with. Alice has the guilt slowly eating up inside herself and starts seeing Tara, even though that's impossible. Cass tries to control the situation. Polly, if anything, seems to enjoy and feed off her guilt. And Rae goes more into herself...
I do have a few things that niggled at me. Alice mentioning her weight every now and then was one thing. Every now and then, she would say something about her weight and it made me want to shake her. There were other times I wanted to dive into the book and shake Alice because of reasons that, at the time of writing this, has gone straight out of my head. But I know that there were occasions I was going "What are you doing?! TELL SOMEONE, FOR GOD'S SACK!"
While this might not be as amazing as Entangled (which I still love), Cat Clarke has proven as being one of the voice for dark, gritty UK YA fiction (and we need more of this!). I can not WAIT for her next novel, Undone, which I heard is her most personnel and most heartbreaking read to wait, which shall be interesting, because, as I told Cat, I have never cried reading a book before so the gauntlet is thrown. BRING IT ON, CAT!
PS - the Andrew in the Acknowledgements. That's ME! *Kermit Flails* SO HAPPY! I'M IN A BOOK!!! (Yes, I know a quote of mine was used in Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck but there's something wonderful about being in an author's acknowledgements, so Cat, if you're reading this, thank you.
PPS - Also, for a while before I read this, I always heard Torn by Natalie Imbruglia when I thought of this book, and I didn't want the song to be linked to the book. I just couldn't handle it! And, as you can see below, my song choices aren't Torn by Natalie Imbruglia (but there is a song by her) so HAHA!