Book Review: Entangled by Cat Clarke
17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with a table, pens and paper — and no clue how she got here.
As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she’s tried to forget. There’s falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there’s something missing. As hard as she’s trying to remember, is there something she just can’t see?
Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?
A story of dark secrets, intense friendship and electrifying attraction.’
A lot of people love this book, so I was really excited when I was kindly sent a copy as my first RAK. Unfortunately, I was left feeling pretty underwhelmed.
Entangled’s narrative flows well and I finished the story in about 3 hours, but this book (attempts) to deal with some very dark subjects, and I felt the light, easy-going tone of the book didn’t really fit with this. I was disappointed as I never really felt that Clarke actually explored any of the issues she incorporated into her novel, they were just… there, with no explanation as to why the characters acted, or felt, the way that they did. At times it felt the author was simply piling on troubles and problems just to try to garner sympathy from the reader.
The narrative jumps backwards and forwards from the present, where Grace is locked in a white room, kidnapped by a mysterious guy (who seems to know everything about her), with nothing to do but write, and the past, as we relive Grace’s memories via her writing. This set up worked well for the most part, and, as I’ve said, the narrative is easy to get into, but it did get a little frustrating at times. Grace would reach an important part of her back-story, and then suddenly we would jump back to the present again. I suppose this was done to try to draw everything out and create an element of suspense, but as I found the story in general rather average, this technique fell flat for me.
I had two main issues with Entangled, the first being that the plot was nothing out of the ordinary. It was predictable, and I guessed the various secrets Sal was trying to hide from the start. After that, the main incentive to read on was just to find out whether or not I was right, not because I cared much what happened either way. The twist at the end wasn’t very hard to figure out either, and I feel that similar endings have been done before, with far greater impact.
The main problem was really that I just disliked Grace so much. As a character, she had a lot of problems. She cuts herself, is fast on her way to becoming an alcoholic, is suicidal, sleeps around, has a troubled relationship with her mother, and a sad past concerning her father. I was very aware while reading that I should have felt sorry for her, or at least empathized with her, but I didn’t. I didn’t feel anything in particular for Grace other than a mild annoyance.
She was constantly selfish and emotionally manipulative to her friends and her boyfriend, and sadly by the end of the story, I didn’t feel that she had shown any growth as a character. I never got the impression that she was depressed exactly, more just attention-seeking (as cruel and heartless as that makes me sound). Her issues appear to stem from her unresolved feelings surrounding her father and her broken relationship with her mother, though this doesn’t correlate when we learn Grace looses her virginity at just 14 with a strange boy, long before the troubles with her parents started (as far as I can tell). Unfortunately, neither of the parents and their role in leading Grace up to this moment is really explored. Clearly, this character suffers from a severe lack of self-esteem and guidance from a very young age, but why does Grace feel this way? Why and when did she start down this path?
Entangled begins with Grace about to kill herself. I expected (and hoped) the novel would explore how she got to that place, but it all feels very superficial, in that Grace came across as a whiney, bratty and overly melodramatic teenager, rather than a deeply troubled, or emotionally ill young woman. I didn’t really feel the cutting aspect was dealt with very well either, though I can’t quite put my finger on why. I didn’t feel any sense of revulsion, or shock. It wasn’t upsetting to read and I can’t help but think it should have been. Maybe that’s just me, rather than a reflection on the author.
In the end, I found Grace a little to self-centered, obnoxious, needy and foolish, though I did feel some sadness for her at the end. I hate to be so harsh on a character I was clearly meant to feel deeply for, given her circumstances. Grace has some horrible things happen to her and in a detached sort of way, I could see why she was self harming, accepting that she was simply a very emotional, volatile character, but there was nothing to endear me to her, so I just found myself annoyed and irritated with the way she treated everyone.
Entangled just wasn’t for me. There were too many clichés, the story was nothing new and though I found it an enjoyable enough read, it didn’t grab me or make me feel anything. There is an ending some people will love and some will hate. I think, had I cared more for Grace, I probably would have been haunted by ‘what could have been’ after finishing this one. Disappointing — but I am in the minority in thinking this.
Recommended Reading Age: 16+