September 27, 2010

How Do I Love Thee? (Review: Torment; Lauren Kate)

Torment
Lauren Kate
Headline 2010

This review may contain slight spoilers if you have not read Torment. If you have not read the first in this series – Fallen - then the spoilers are HUGE. You have been warned.
How many lives do you need to live before you find someone worth dying for? In the aftermath of what happened at Sword and Cross, Luce has been hidden away by her cursed angelic boyfriend, Daniel, in a new school filled with Nephilim, the offspring of fallen angels and humans. Daniel promises she will be safe here, protected from those who would kill her. Yet the more Luce learns about herself, the more she realizes that the past is her only key to unlocking her future...and that Daniel hasn't told her everything. What if his version of the past isn't actually the way things happened? (blurb courtesy of Goodreads)


I read Torment's predecessor Fallen earlier this year, shortly before I started blogging. I picked it up on a whim, having not heard much about it and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I picked it up again this week prior to reading Torment and found that I enjoyed it even more second time round. So Torment had a lot to live up to and I started it with some trepidation as recently my high expectations have ruined a few books for me. I am relieved to say that Torment was not one of them. If anything it is even better than Fallen, which is saying something.


The plot is clever and contains a lot of information that could easily be confusing. Having left Sword and Cross, Luce finds herself at yet another live-in school – this time Shoreline, on the sunny Californian coast line. Shoreline is a stunning contrast to Sword and Cross. Where the latter was claustrophobia epitomised with it's creeping kudzu, dank cemetery and ever present surveillance cameras the former is a place of light, freedom and beauty. It is really lovely to read about and cleverly allows the characters, particularly Luce, space to think and learn. Most interestingly, we find out considerably more about the shadows that have haunted Luce since childhood. At times the plot feels frustratingly full of only half-answers and teasing snippets of back story but this is clearly intentional and the overall story arc is gripping enough to keep you reading. Torment, like Fallen, isn't heavy on action scenes but those that there are are extremely thrilling and I thought that the ending was exceptionally well written.


However, it is the characters that make Torment a standout read of 2010. While most of the faces from Fallen show up at one point or another we are also introduced to several new figures from Shoreline, with teachers Francesca and Steven being particularly intriguing and Miles being just lovely. Daniel remains an enigma. Despite Torment being bookended by sections from his point of view, I was left completely confused by his actions and motivations and actually found myself leaning towards the more straight-speaking Cam. It's Luce herself who brings this book to life, though. She's just such an excellent heroine. Far from the host of female protagonists in the paranormal genre who just blindly follow where their (often commandeering) vampire/werewolf/faerie/other love leads, Luce believably starts to question Daniel and the loop of lives that he insists she has been caught in. When he tells her to obey his instructions to stay quiet and content herself with whatever half-truths he offers her, she gets mad. She, as you would, wants to know more about her past lives and the nature of their endless relationship. She also questions the wisdom of remaining in a world that seems so dangerous and she misses her family and ponders the implications of her situation on them. Yes, ladies and gentlemen – I introduce you to the anti-Bella. A girl with a lot more gumption, a deal of common sense and considerably more objectivity. Can I here a YAY for gumption, common sense and objectivity!


Lauren Kate's writing is as enjoyable this time round as it was in Fallen. I particularly love her ability to write an entirely immersing setting and enjoyed the change of location in Torment hugely. The book also has some very funny moments with the dinner scene towards the end being extremely amusing. There are lovely shades of grey both in the writing and the storyline. It is becoming increasingly clear that nothing is black and white in Daniel and Luce's story and I have no idea what might happen in the final book of the trilogy. On pondering the ending, I actually found myself wondering if Luce could be an amnesiacal Lucifer – no idea where that came from...possibly too much coffee. Whatever happens, I am sure that the final book in this trilogy will make for an exciting read. For those of you looking for a cleverly written, imaginative paranormal tale with more than a little romance and an absolutely standout protagonist then this is absolutely for you. In fact, even if you are not looking for these things, pick up Fallen and Torment – I am certain that you will be pleasantly surprised.


Torment is released on 30th September in the UK - a big thanks to UK Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to read and review such a great title.

3 comments:

Melissa said...

Brilliant review! I wasn't the biggest fan of Fallen, but I hear Torment answers a lot of questions and that there's more action...that could make me love it! :)

Lauren said...

I love this review! I actually didn't think about the lightness of this setting compared to the dark gloom of the previous one, but you're so right. I adore the 'shades of grey' in Lauren Kate's writing. We make assumptions about who is 'good' or 'bad' but we could well be getting it wrong.

thebookfairyhaven said...

Yay for the Anti-Bella. I love strong female protagonists who don't follow blindly, and the fact that you mention this, makes me want to read this book even more! Fantastic review!