The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate
Published by Corgi Childrens
3 out of 5 stars
format: Paperback (also available in kindle/ebook, buy yours here)
So I wrote a brilliant, witty, perfect review of Natalie, then my mac lost it. :S Now I’m not half as witty or insightful as I was. But I’ll try.
I wasn’t really feeling the Fallen books, in fact I only read Fallen, then promptly forgot all about it, and never bothered with the rest. But I was hoping that Natalie would be more my style, I was looking for a modern MacBeth, a clever psychological thriller.
Natalie is top dog at Palmetto High, she has the style, the boyfriend, the minions and the ticket to the most sacred of positions, Palmetto princess. But she’s hiding things, she grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, her mother raised their status through dedicated marriage-divorce-marriage strategies and her dad’s in prison (although she’s told everyone he’s dead). JB is the only one who might know, and Natalie’s just found out he’s tipped to beat her boyfriend (Mike) to the crown, which just won’t do. So she plots.
I have to put spoilers in here, I can’t review the book without them, so if you don’t want to know ignore the following (I’ll let you know when its ok to look again….)
At a Mardi Gras party, Natalie and Mike help drunk, almost comatose, JB by offering to take him home, but they don’t get there, instead the decide to leave him (dressed as a woman) outside the church in his inebriated state. Natalie then takes it one step further and ties his hands, and takes his ‘happy pills’ (Mike knows nothing of the tying up or the pills till later). She sees it as the perfect way to discredit him, and prevent him from winning the title. But they arrive at church the next morning with their families to find JB’s dead and that his ‘happy pills’ were in fact seizure meds. Natalie then convinces Mike to allow her to set up a fellow student, and frame him for murder. This is where the book lost some stars from me and heres why (in a good old list form):
1)JB was so drunk he’d never of been able to take the pills even if they were there, and his hands were untied.
2)Why would Natalie take them? If her aim was to discredit him, being found with drugs would have only helped, she seemed to do it to ‘get at him’ but it wasn’t explained.
3)I doubt he would have died the instant he missed a dose – in all likelihood a missed dose would do very little, the bottle even said in case of a missed dose to contact a medical facility, not that the instant you hit the 6 hour mark your dead.
4)We don’t know when he last took the meds.
5)There’s no point where we are told that he died because of the meds, surely he shouldn’t of been drinking on such strong medicine? How do we know that didn’t kill him? There was just suddenly a cop at school, no explanation of a murder or manslaughter investigation – just a cop.
6)How does Baxter (the framed, who’s in rehab) know that he’s being set up by them, when no-one else has any idea that they were involved?
ok, now thats off my chest, a few other bits that are non-spoiler related. The past Natalie that we are introduced to is nothing like the new Natalie, the two just don’t gel. I also struggle to like a character that is so obsessed with becoming princess that she stoops so low. I can’t imagine high school is really like this, unless you go to high school in a US prime time teen drama (90210 etc). Yes we all had the mean girls, but this takes it to a shallow, unbelievable level. Its also titled The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove, yet everything is her own doing, so perhaps I’ve just missed the point and its all about her betraying herself, but I’m not convinced. The supporting characters are not explored in enough depth, the whole story appears to have been rushed and not injected with any background really. Having said that I enjoyed the overall premise, it was fluffy and an easy read (excluding a few plot holes), and if you are looking for something that won’t stress or tax your brain this is it. The ending was rushed, the loose ends surrounding JB were not tied up and the reader is left with litter satisfaction.
I gave it 3 stars, like I said its readable, and fairly enjoyable but its not a clever or smart book as I was expecting, it is a poor relation to physiological thrillers such as Em Bailey’s Shift, don’t expect it to match up, but if you like Kate’s writing style, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one.