Cat Clarke
(Quercus Children’s Books)

When we first meet Grace, the main protagonist and narrator of this tale, she is sitting in a fairly sterile environment, having been “abducted” by gorgeous boy Ethan. We don’t know why. She doesn’t know why either. All she remembers is she met him at the swings, as she was about to commit suicide, and he took her away. That’s it. Ethan is an odd type of gaoler, gentle and considerate, and all he seems to want her to do is write. Write about her, about her life, about what has happened. Because he wants her to remember, and to understand. As Grace starts to write, reluctantly at first, we learn about her life and who she is. But it will take to the end of the book to find out the true meaning of Ethan’s actions, and I am not about to spoil it for you!

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Entangled. I tend to worry when there is a lot of buzz about a book, because often you end up disappointed. What struck me first about Entangled is the Cat Clarke’s style. It took a bit of getting used to, but I loved it, and this is for me one of the main strengths of this novel. The text is written in a stream of consciousness, which makes sense as Grace is encouraged to put her story to paper and just writes what she thinks. I think it works perfectly and really helps to get a feel of what Grace is really like. Grace has been branded as an unlikeable character in many reviews and I have to say I disagree. Working in a school with teenagers, I have come across so many girls like her – rude, obnoxious and verging on the aggressive one minute, all sweetness the next – and often those are girls who have to deal with an awful lot outside school. I loved Grace for this; she was just like a toddler, going from one extreme of character to the other in a matter of seconds, and this made her hugely vulnerable. Of course as the story progresses the reader gets to understand more about what has made Grace who she is. She has been, despite her many faults and her acerbic behaviour, a victim of deceit and betrayal. But she is not entirely blameless. So although I was very much sympathetic to Grace, she is without a doubt a character that many will love to hate. The character that did really annoy me was Sal. I could not warm to her; from the beginning, she appeared shifty. And so did Nat, in fact.

I think there are enough clues in the story to let on what is really going on. Although I did not guess the real identity of Ethan, I did have an inkling, which turned out to be right. But it certainly did not spoil it for me.
Some things remained unresolved; for instance the real meaning behind Uncle Mick wanting to see Grace. I couldn’t work out whether it was something to do with the past, or the fact that there was something between him and Grace’s mother.
I cried (of course) at the end. But funnily enough I didn’t cry for Grace, but for her mother. I felt such pain for what she was going through, knowing what had happened to her before.

Entangled is a convincing début novel. The writing is gritty, yet full of emotion and warmth, and Grace is a very memorable character. If Entangled is setting the tone in YA British Literature for 2011, we are in for a great year.

Sent for review by publisher