Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book review: Torment

Torment
She may have discovered love amongst the fallen, but the battle has only just begun.

Torment by Lauren Kate (DoubleDay)

A lot has happened since the explosive battle took place at Sword & Cross.

 Between an unexpected death and betrayal, Luce barely has time to wrap her head around everything that she's been witness to - and before she knows it, she is whisked off by Daniel to be hidden away at a new school filled with Nephilim.

All this is done for her own protection of course (Because somehow during the last battle, Luce has managed to attract a horde of enemies all out for her blood).

Of course Luce isn't very happy at the thought of being there on her own, but as she starts making new friends and learning more about the Shadows and what they really mean, Luce soon begins to learn more about her past lives.

And yet, with this new knowledge comes a plethora of unanswered questions and it doesn't take long before Luce begins to question everything, including her love for Daniel. Because one thing is certain - Daniel hasn't told her everything that she wants and needs to know. 


Review:
There are many book series out there where you can easily start reading from the second novel and still be able to get the gist of what is going on.

This is not one of them.

So before anyone reads this book, I would highly recommend that you read Fallen before you read Torment. Trust me, I'm glad I did because I wouldn't have been able to grasp what was going on had I not actually read Fallen first.

I have to say that Lauren Kate is a fantastic writer who happens to have a knack for choosing fantastic book titles. I am one of those judge-y book nerd types that tend to not only choose a book by its cover, but also by its title.

And Torment? It's more of an appropriate title than you can ever begin to imagine.

Also, how spectacular is the cover? One really has to applaud the design team behind Lauren Kate's books because her covers are unbelievably beautiful.

Anyway, for those who have read Fallen, you'll know that Lauren Kate spent most of her time slowly building a world and focusing on unfurling bits and pieces of the various characters without giving too much away.  As a result, many questions are unfurled, but not many answers are given.

In Torment, answers are given, but in the process, only more questions begin to unravel.  Lauren pretty much sticks to the same slow-building pace that she used in the previous novel, which did, at times, make for a very frustrating read.

There is a lot one actually needs to get through in order to come across little nuggets of gold that provides a little deeper insight into some questions that were raised in the previous novel.

One of the biggest questions answered is finding out just what the Shadows are there for. I admit that I was pleasantly surprised and completely thrown for a loop, simply because I didn't expect the Shadows to have the kind of functionality that they have.

You can bet on seeing and hearing more about the Shadows in the third instalment of the Fallen series as I get a feeling that they'll be a key player in helping Luce discover more of her past lives.

The world Lauren has created in Torment is vastly different from the world created in Fallen. Fallen saw a rather dark, gothic setting and gloomy atmosphere at Sword & Cross, while Torment sees Luce in coastal California, hiding out and attending school at Shoreline. 

Whereas Sword & Cross was drenched in perpetual shadows and cloudy darkness, Shoreline is an exclusive, expensive school of light, open spacious with a beautiful and roomy view of the ocean.

Yet, for all it's beauty, I couldn't help but pick up on the irony in choosing the setting because, for all of it's sparkling and glimmering beauty, Luce finds herself in a near-constant state of Torment (See? I told you the title was appropriate).

Who is she? What was she like? What happened between her and Daniel in all of her past lives?  These are jus a few of the questions that she grapples with throughout the novel.

Of course, the lengths that she goes through to get some more answers often put her in harm's way, but hey, with the help of new friends (and old ones),  there's just no stopping Luce. 

What I really enjoyed about this novel is seeing Luce's character grow and develop. As a huge fan of character-driven novels (especially in a series), being witness to character change and growth is very important to me. 

And with Luce's character - Lauren Kate doesn't disappoint. Still, in spite of her growth and watching her question more, there was such an abundance of angst about her, that it almost seems to weigh the novel and me, as the reader down. 

Again, the obvious appropriateness for the book's title is apparent here, and if this is what Lauren Kate set out to achieve, then she certainly got that right. But that doesn't mean it made for easy reading. All that angst is bound to get one down.

For those worried about not seeing anything of Daniel in this novel, fear not. He makes an appearance in the novel. Plenty of them actually - and while the moments between Daniel and Luce are romantic and at even times sizzling - there are obvious moments of strain too.

And it's no wonder because the poor girl is just so frustrated with Daniel's Edward-Cullen like protectiveness (i.e. I don't want to tell you anything because I want to protect you), that I really couldn't blame her for lashing out at him at times.

Cue the arrival of Miles - a possible new love interest, who happens to be the complete opposite of the brooding and secretive Daniel (this novel seems to be all about antithesis, doesn't it?), and things only become more complicated.

What made me especially happy about this novel, is that it sees the introduction of new characters and friends (the abrasive Shelby, and bubbly Dawn and Jasmine), while we also welcome back the arrival of old ones too (Roland, Cam, Arriane and even Molly, amongst others).

The absolute highlight of Torment though?

Would have to be the ending. It was absolutely explosive and it was definitely one that I didn't see coming.  The overall thread in this novel seems to convey the idea that the difference between good and evil is not black and white, but more various shades of gray. And of course, it now makes me want to read Passion (the third book in this series) more than ever now.

For all my little niggles with this novel, I have to say that Lauren Kate has definitely delivered a fantastic offering. Yes, it takes work to get through the novel, but the subtle and understated beauty of her descriptive writing is so thoroughly engaging that you will find yourself getting sucked into and swept away by the events in this novel anyway.

It's a beautiful read and gets a solid 4 out of 5 stars from me!

P.S. Don't forget, I'm giving away a copy of Torment, so if you want to stand a chance of winning - then enter my giveaway here.

9 comments:

Melissa said...

Awesome review! I felt Fallen was too slow until the end for me, so I'm hoping this is better for me! I'm definitely looking forward to it now :)

Straylights said...

Great review! I agree, the covers on these books are absolutely gorgeous! I still have not read Fallen, but I do plan to get around to it. I'm so glad you enjoyed the second in the series. Are you dying now waiting for the third to come out? lol!

Nikki-ann said...

Great review! I enjoyed both Fallen and Torment, and can't wait for the next book in the series to be released! :)

Aisle B said...

Wow another fabulous piece and I couldn't agree with you more. Torment delivered far more than I expected and the ending... oooph still recovering.

Luce hypothesis keep lurking in my head ... who is SHE really.... Especially since she has the ultimate allegiance of ... (not giving it away to your readers) but makes you think.....

I wonder what bookalicious cover will be in store for us with Passion. Did you know that Disney optioned the rights for the movies??

Chrissie said...

Great review. Although I did really enjoy Torment I also found this book to be frustrating at times. Plus I wasn't too happy with the ending either - but it has certainly made me want to pick up Passion to find out what happens to Luce and Daniel next!

Jan von Harz said...

Fantastic review. I have not yet read Fallen, but I am moving it up to the top of the pile, so I can run out and get Torment. You have totally convinced me that I have to read these books.

Jenny said...

Fabulous review Tammy, I love how much thought you put into your reviews and how you highlight all the things you loved and also the things that bothered you a bit. I'm glad we see progression from Luce, I'm with you in that I like to see some growth from the characters in the series. I'm also really excited to learn more about the new love interest, he sounds quite interesting! Can't wait to read this one:)

Chrizette @ All the days of said...

I read FALLEN after all the hype that was around the blogosphere . . . I even phoned Exclusive books for the SA release date and then had my name on THE list . . . :) I was a little disappointed and debated not reading TORMENT. After reading your review, I might give it a change :)

~Chrizette

Dazzling Mage said...

Great review! The cover is gorgeous. I have both Fallen and Torment on my shelf, and hoping to get to them soon!