It isn't often that I remark on book covers during book reviews (since I believe it is the contents of the book that are important) but in this case I really have to! The cover to Entangled is simply beautiful and I'm sure will have people reaching for the book from the shelf.
And this is the story that they will read when they do: Grace is a rather bolshy teenager with her fair share of problems. However, they seem to have faded into significance rather when she wakes up in a featureless white room, kidnapped by a mysterious individual called Ethan. While she is kept captive, she is provided paper and pen and starts to write her recent history as a way to pass the time, telling the reader about her best friend Sal and her gorgeous boyfriend Nat. As the story reaches its conclusion, we learn the truth about Grace and her relationships in heartbreaking fashion.
This is not an easy book to read. It has funny moments, and the voice of Grace is strong and snarky, but it is more in the vein of Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma than anything more light-hearted - dealing in delicate matters with great sensitivity.
Cat Clarke writes the voice of a teenage girl perfectly, with all of the paranoia, and sulks, and constant feelings of being misunderstood, as well as the attitude and cheek and fun. Grace is a hard character to like in the beginning - she is spiky and rebellious, enjoys fun with boys a little too much, and cuts herself... It takes the course of the book to understand Grace and her motivations, and the ending, when it comes, is truly harrowing - as well as somewhat hopeful.
To start with I wasn't at all sure about the sequences involving Ethan - I didn't know why he would have kidnapped Grace. As the mystery unfolds, I found myself gripped and then I admired Clarke's method of delivering the rest of Grace's tale via flashbacks as she writes down what had happened. By the end, Ethan is a very integral part of the novel and I couldn't see how Clarke could have achieved the same without him.
The one part of the novel I struggled with was Grace's friendship with Sal - I know that Sal was going through tough times during the course of the novel, but I honestly couldn't see why Grace would really like Sal. Of course, I might be forgetting the way that I made friends as a teenage age - simply orientating myself with those who liked the same things I did - but I do wish we'd seen more of Grace's and Sal's friendship beginning and then growing before the events of the book happened.
Also, as mentioned, I did find myself wanting to shake Grace at times - I guess I can attribute this to the skill of Clarke's writing, but it does make it hard to care about a character when they are so stubborn and bitchy.
The prose was delivered in first person, which ended up driving the plot forward at a sharp pace. I read the book in just one sitting, and found myself compelled to discover the mystery of Ethan and just what had happened to put Grace in her position. Clarke has delivered a very current, fresh debut novel and I look forward to reading more of her output.