These days, Lauren Kate is one of the most popular authors in YA for her best-selling Fallen series. But her first book is actually the lesser-known, wickedly delicious novel The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove — and I’m so glad I picked it up!
The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is sort of like a cross between the story of Lady Macbeth and “Jawbreaker” (that 1999 movie with Rose McGowan). It’s got plotting, scheming and social-climbing — mixed in with a prank gone horribly wrong, and all set in a wealthy high school and an upper class, Southern community. Kate’s modern twist on the tale of Lady Macbeth is a guilty pleasure read, and it’s done with the utmost finesse.
First of all, Kate gets mad props for simply adapting the Lady Macbeth story for a modern audience (and kudos for focusing on Lady Macbeth, not her sniveling husband). Besides the daunting task of adapting this classic character from Shakespeare, Kate’s also faced with the task of writing about an extremely unlikeable character. Lady Macbeth is not a good person — and neither is Kate’s Natalie Hargrove. And yet, she still has moments where she feels real. She’s not completely void of emotion, and there are reasons for her behavior — most notably, her obsession with wealth and social status. (All is revealed in due course!)
But by the time The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove has reached his dramatic finish, everything feels right. Justice may not have been served in the traditional sense — but there’s a sense of closure and rightness in the ending. It all works.
For Shakespeare fans, it’s also fun to see how Kate has adapted parts of Macbeth and worked in subtle references to the play (such as the name of the lingerie shop in one scene). And since it’s not an exact adaptation of Macbeth, Kate is free to take liberties with the story. But through it all, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove remains true to the spirit of what Shakespeare wrote — and his influence is evident throughout Kate’s book.
All in all, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove is a completely entertaining, satisfying book to read. I loved seeing how Macbeth worked its influence over Kate’s story of high school scheming — and couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out how the spiraling turn of events would end. And hopefully, it’ll keep YOU turning the pages, too.