Like Lauren Kate\’s other novels Fallen and Torment, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is dark, dangerous and sexy. The story is told from Natalie\’s perspective, and at first she seems like the kind of girl we\’d all love to hate. She\’s gorgeous and everyone just does what she says. Even the other princesses at school aren\’t jealous: the Bambies, perfectly groomed sophomore girls who go out with senior boys, and the hippie fresher girls play their part in a well-ordered school hierarchy, which involves acknowledging Natalie as queen bee. They\’re thrilled when she shares her hair products, and want to help her out with her problem.
Even her problem isn\’t much of a problem, or so it seems at first. We\’ve all seen dozens of movies about girl who want to be prom queen, but this is different. Natalie is different. The rich families in her South Carolina town treat the King and Queen of the Palmetto Court ball like celebrities. Being chosen as a Queen or King has real implications for the winners\’ future life and success.
The first twist here is that Natalie seems to have Queen all sorted for herself; it\’s the King that\’s the problem! Her faithful boyfriend Mike is â€˜southern royalty,\’ a football star who\’s also on the Honour Roll, and he has the ironic last name King. The one thing Natalie and Matt\’s difficult mother, Diana (another great name for Southern royalty) agree on is the need for Mike to become the Palmetto Court King, like every generation of his family before him. Natalie can\’t allow Justin Balmer, or J.B., the main competition, to become King, but genial Mike doesn\’t mind J.B. and is way too laid back about the whole thing.
Can it get any more sicking and predictable? No way! This is not a book about proms. The author skilfully allows Natalie to reveal more and more about herself till the reader is firmly on her side. We learn that her father\’s disappearance and mother\’s subsequent re-partnering have allowed her the chance to reinvent herself from being a poor girl from the undesirable side of town. Yet she still needs to remind herself to be careful not to “blur the line between the servant and the served.” And then daddy comes back&
When Natalie takes steps to stop J.B. from becoming King, she finds herself on a dangerous path that the reader knows she will find hard to escape. The author creates suspense effectively and the book is a well-paced, captivating read. The author signposts certain plot twists so the reader has an idea of what\’s about to come but there are several revelations that are unexpected, and even touching. With a title like Betrayal, the reader suspects that someone will betray Natalie, but what if she has been betrayed several times over; whose is the true betrayal?
The book\’s prologue and epilogue sandwich the story neatly and create a nice sense of impending doom. My only problem with the book is that it tied off too many ends neatly; I would love to see another book in this universe!
The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is the literary equivalent of a smooth dark hot chocolate â€“ with added chilli. It\’s not for everyone, as young readers might not enjoy the adult themes, such as the references to drugs and sex. But if you like your fiction hot, spicy, sharp and brooding, you should get your hands on a copy â€“ whatever it takes.
Available now: Random House RRP$17.95