Oh, hell no!
Undone by Cat Clarke
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published: 20th December, 2012
I love books that explore serious, and often sad or difficult topics. Suicide is one of those topics I feel need to be talked about, and not treated as taboo. I think most of us would agree that the act of taking one’s own life is always the most drastic solution and is just a senseless waste of life. Kai’s death in Undone was more mind boggling than most fictional suicides I’ve ever came across. You see, this 16-year-old boy supposedly killed himself over being outed as gay. Sadly, it does happen. Kai’s case was shocking, but mostly because from the beginning of the story he just came across so comfortable with his identity, never really tried to actively hide it, and apart from his sister, his other family members came across as supporting, and so did his close friends.
This poor guy seemed nothing more than a plot device to set Jem on a stupid revenge mission that made even less sense than Kai ending his own life. I’m all in for cool vendettas and all, but bloody hell, they should at least make some kind of sense. Even if I take into account that Jem is a teenager with perhaps not so great judgement, I can’t overlook the actual facts.
Jem is described as an intelligent girl, and she prides herself in her critical thinking, and often thinks of herself as some Machiavellian mastermind. Yet, she goes on the warpath with no evidence whatsoever. She’s also slut shaming other girls, and rolls her eyes for their attempts of wanting to look pretty. Not sure what’s that to her, but she seems to care a lot about these kind of things, while she considers herself a good person in general.
She observes certain behaviours in others that puzzle her, because they prove those people are actually way nicer than she thought, but she disregards them because if she’d accepted the truth, she wouldn’t be able to punish anyone and her whole purpose of in life would need to be reevaluated. An actual smart girl probably wouldn’t be offended if someone is nice to her, instead she would take that into account, look at the evidence, and act based on that. Maybe even admit that she was wrong and you know, change her mind before it’s too late.
Those letters from Kai? To me those made the least amount of sense. When someone is so desperate that they are ready to take their lives, they are likely not in a chipper mood. So this boy spending a crapload of time writing cheery letters to Jem, sending her on a year filled with self improvement, and a sort of makeover from beyond the grave is just one step too far and my mind can’t process it. Like yeah, sure, I’m about to kill myself, but please don’t miss me too much, and how about you stop being an emo-goth and maybe try blond hair and some colourful clothes, hmm…?
I think none of you will be surprised when I say, I was extremely disappointed with this book. To take such an important topic and turn it into a stupid vendetta plot just doesn’t sit right with me.
When I’m told a character has certain qualities but they never do anything to support that, I can’t help but feel that the story is just not authentic enough.
That said, I’ve not given up on Cat Clarke’s books just yet. I read Girlhood last year, and enjoyed it quite a lot, so this could just very well be some kind of one off flop. We shall see.