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Cat Clarke – Entangled

Book Cover

When things don’t add up they may not be what they seem.

Publisher: Quercus
Pages: 372
Type: Fiction
Age: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-1-84916-394-1
First Published: 6th January 2011
Date Reviewed: 11th January 2011
Rating: 4/5

For some reason, Grace is being held in a white room. In fact even the sparse furnishings are white. Grace doesn’t know how she got there or why she is there, but she knows who her captor is. She knows literally: his name is Ethan and he’s gorgeous, and it looks like he wants her to write, but there’s something else about him that is intriguing. Why Ethan wants her to write and what about, Grace doesn’t know. But the paper is there and right now the only thing Grace can think to chronicle is her lousy existence.

Gritty – that’s the best way I can think of to sum up this novel. To be honest I was expecting it to be more psychological but actually it contains just the right amount of everything. Clarke gives you the basics of the difficult issues but doesn’t go into too much detail, therefore making it a little easier for people who might’ve shied away otherwise. There are a few issues covered in the book, not so many as to make it confusing, and each subplot and character has been given a lot of thought.

Clarke has crafted a very different story, but it’s not different so much for it’s contents as for it’s style and overall presentation. There is a uniqueness that enables the typically mundane to be worthy of reading, for example I’ve been on lots of buses in the rain and Grace’s journeys tend to sound just like them, yet I’m compelled to read about it. Maybe it helps that I’m a Brit like Grace and not that far out of school, but there is something about the day-to-day that drew me. Other times it took me a while to realise that I was reading about a regular event because of the way it was written.

You’d be forgiven for thinking at first that the writing style is clumsy. It becomes apparent very quickly just how tormented Grace is. As she begins to get used to what has become her life, if “used to” is an appropriate phrase, she becomes less anxious over her present situation, saving her upset for the story of her life.

Grace is a strong character but like everyone she has her faults. It’s in these faults that she shines because even if you can’t relate to everything you will undoubtedly be able to relate to something. The other characters aren’t as important and are thus not as detailed, but they are given ample time for you to understand how they have affected Grace.

Part of the plot is easy to figure out but that in itself appears to be a device. We know things before Grace does so that we can appreciate just how long it takes her to start understanding them herself.

I did entertain the thought that maybe he is a vampire. Until I remembered that my life isn’t actually Twilight.

If you are wondering how much like the current crop of young adult novels Entangled is, there is part of your answer. The other part I’m afraid to say would spoil the story to mention here.

I had various ideas in mind as to what the answer would be, as to why Grace was confined, and I admit to being a bit underwhelmed by the answer because of my previous reads. This doesn’t mean that it makes Clarke’s book any less readable however; I attribute the sudden onslaught of books of this nature to coincidence. Each author who has written a book in this vein has put their own spin on it.

In Entangled, Clarke takes a number of well-known situations and problems and discusses them through the use of a story. Quite likely to have a better impact than any reference material, she hits the reader with it hard while being delicate enough so that it’s not overwhelming. And she shows that there is a way out, even when you’re at the very bitter end.

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January 19, 2011, 1:06 pm

This sounds really good. Yours is the first review I read, I did see Quercus mentioning the book once or twice. And I admit that once you said you saw the answer coming, I am even more curious. I don’t like it when I do not have a clue when someone else already knows. Guess I will have to read the book ;)

Charlie: It’s good in the way that you know absolutely ages before the character does, because it really doesn’t spoil the story as it might others. And to back up what you’ve said, I’ve just got to a part in my current book where suddenly you’re told something that the character supposedly knew long ago but the reader was oblivious too. Entangled’s way of doing it is definitely better!


January 20, 2011, 3:36 am

What an intriguing-sounding book! I’ve not heard of it before reading your review. Your summary reminded me at first of Room by Emma Donoghue, though it began to sound less like Room as I read on. I really enjoy the quote you provided — I like that touch of humor.

Charlie: So many people having been talking about Room, I feel I should check it out! I think I know what you mean there though, from the little I know of the book. Yeah, I wasn’t sure how the reader ought to feel about that quote but I think it was meant in jest, as well as a “please do not paint my book without reading it first”.



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