As my first review for the 2012 British Book Challenge I am partipating in, I would like to present you with my review of Torn!
I loved Cat Clarke’s debut novel Entangled so I was incredibly excited to read her sophomore effort. Torn continues Clarke’s now characteristic style of a novel heavy in realism that seems to have a paranormal edge at the same time. In all her novels, this paranormal edge can be argued at the end to be some psychological or imagined experience; the entire room and premise of Entangled for example and a certain shall we say, presence in Torn. Both novels are incredibly harrowing thematically and are beautifully written.
Torn tells the story of the fallout during and after a school trip to Scotland where the narrator Alice, her best friend Cass, outsider Rae, Polly the try-hard-wannabe-but-failing and Tara, the mean girl, are all in true fashion lumped together with one another in a cabin. While this is a bit of a cliche, it is kind of true, I certainly remember at school trips being put in rooms with people I didn’t like, but like Alice, I always had a good friend in my dorm as we could ‘choose’ one of our roommates beforehand. By the end of the trip, Tara is dead and the novel opens with her memorial service as the book intertwines the history and the aftermath seamlessly together through Alice.
Alice was a strong narrator. She wasn’t always likeable and at times I really wanted to yell at her, but I liked that as it made her human and I would rather have a character I don’t love all the time than a perfect Mary-Sue. She was a human in a very bad situation and battling with what to do. Without wanting to spoil the novel I found this particularly interesting as the whole challenge between action and passivity is at the heart of the novel.
I loved Clarke’s character development, particularly with Polly, Tara and Alice. Without spoiling the entire novel, the change between preconceptions and someone’s actual self are so well exemplified within these characters in particular.
I loved the romantic aspect to the novel and Jack was simply adorable. I loved his inability to make it clear when it was a date, while I agreed with Alice that a museum doesn’t scream romance, I thought it was so cute.
As with Entangled, Torn ends with room for the reader to decide what happens next. It is interesting that both novels end with a choice after beginning with coping with a situation they have been coerced or forced into. While in some books I find this incredibly frustrating, I think it was the right call for Clarke to make and the perfect ending. The final chapters of the novel were heartbreaking, refreshingly realistic and incredibly well written.
I can’t wait for Clarke’s next novel!