Monday 7 February 2011

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate (Random House)
PB RRP $24.95
ISBN 978-1-7427-5077-4
Reviewed by Oliver Phommavanh

Lauren Kate has been tearing up the best sellers lists for a year with her ‘Fallen’ trilogy. The final book Passion is due sometime this year so here is Kate’s debut novel to keep fans at bay. The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is no para-romance, it’s a high school story with satirical bite, in the vein of popular shows like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars.

Natalie Hargrove is poised to be prom queen. She can almost taste the crown. She’s got a hunky and rich boyfriend Mike who comes from a long line of high school royalty. The spanner in the works is J.B, Justin Balmer. He knows how to get under Natalie’s skin. Of course, Natalie wants to stop him but takes things a little too far. She gets caught up in covering her tracks of a crime that would spell the end of her reign.  
Judging by the title, it’s no surprise that Natalie Hargrove will suffer the consequences of being obsessed with fame and status. But the unravelling is so delicious because Kate has set Natalie up well at the start. There’s a perverse fascination with prom traditions, especially among the privileged and Kate outlays them all out. It’s almost as complicated as being actual royalty.

There are parallels to Natalie and Lady Macbeth, which is acknowledged in the story. Readers will appreciate the tongue in cheek humour offered through her ‘frienemies’ as Natalie’s own secrets spill out. The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is certainly different from Kate’s Fallen books, but her trademark descriptions and authentic high school dialogue shine through. It’s a sexy and racy read that will amuse until the very end. It’s recommended for ages 15 and up.                 

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