Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Torment by Lauren Kate, Book 2 of the Fallen Series

Luce has just escaped a battle between the forces of Demons and Angels and has now been moved into hiding – even from her parents and friends. She is now at Shoreditch, an exclusive school in California, but also one with a secret – this is where Nephilim are sent to train, the children of Angels and Demons.

Separated from Daniel who is pursuing his own agenda he won’t tell her about (including a truce with their one time enemy, Cam), Luce is left to try and assimilate into this new setting with her supernatural classmates, all the while pursued and harried by enemies she knows nothing about (because no-one bothers to tell her) with unknown motives (to her anyway).

But she also seeks a connection with the past lives Daniel remembers but she has lost – through the use of the shadowy Announcers, she fumbles her way to try and find some knowledge of who she was and who she and Daniel were. And through that, she hopes to find exactly what their relationship is now.

This book is called Torment and I am sorely tempted to say it is named appropriately. I am so utterly frustrated by the way the book progressed, the general lack of story and the behaviour of the characters

The last book was very long and very slow. We had an awful lot of foreshadowing with Luce’s life in a reform school – it was mundane, there were clues but it was primarily an introduction. As I said in my last review, the book didn’t seem to start until the very closing pages – that’s when we had angels, demons and grand epic plot line actually started.

So I opened this book with a vague hope that we were now in the world of angels and demons and the plot would follow along those lines. Instead I find that Luce has been moved somewhere for her own safety. Another school. Yes, it’s a school with a special class for Nephilim (people with Angelic/Demonic blood) run by Angels and Demons but, ultimately, she’s in a school and we’re largely back to square 1. I think Daniel and Cam are out there doing interesting things – but Luce is at school, involved in a lot of school drama (making new friends, making new enemies and meeting a cute boy) but not doing much more than playing with the Announcers. All the desperate high school drama, a climax, then back to school again. And in this school she has plenty of time to think – and think she does. About Daniel and their “relationship” (sure, he remembers their past lives of love, she doesn’t. She’s known him for a few weeks – and most of that he was shunning her), about her relationship with her family and about her past lives. Endless reams of thinking – but none of it going anywhere, just circling monologues of angst.

Which brings me to the next element of this book I found immensely frustrating – everyone is mushrooming Luce. No, that’s wrong – “mushrooming” means keeping someone in the dark and feeding them shit. Luce doesn’t even get shit. She is ordered by her oh-so-loving boyfriend to remain on campus like a good girl. He doesn’t tell her why beyond “keep her safe” he refuses to fill her in on the enemies, he refuses to explain why they have enemies and what they want, he refuses to explain his truce with Cam, he refuses to explain what the difference between angels and demons actually is, he refuses to explain why he is the linchpin in the battle between Heaven and Hell, he refuses to explain why he’s having trouble choosing, he refuses to explain why she matters, her past lives, the beginning of their relationship – ANYTHING. She is given orders and dropped, ignorant, into this new place and just expected to obey.

The thing is, 80% of Luce’s angst (and, therefore, 80% of this book – because seriously, that’s all this book is, Luce endlessly angsting about her relationship with Daniel and related issues) cold be addressed if someone would talk to her. Or at very least if she could ask some questions and make them stick. She asks a few, but she accepts the brush off. She has been moved by near strangers to the other side of the country with zero contact with her friends and family for reasons no-one will explain, with consequences no-one will explain and she has to learn things no-one will explain. There is no reason presented why Luce needs to be kept so ignorant and all it does it cause further angst and misunderstanding on her part.

And this leads to the next thing that irritated me. Luce doesn’t object to all this! Even when her new teachers put her under house arrest she doesn’t start throwing things and demanding an explanation as to why she is there and who these people are and what the hell gives them the right to effectively hold her prisoner when no-one has explained a damn thing?! She asks questions and gets irritated with Daniel when he orders her to obey but she never pushes their refusal to answer.

But the truly irritating part of this is that she DOES disobey (yay!) but in the Spunkiest of ways. While someone is actively hunting her – she knows this because she’s seen it, let alone being told and the other girl at school who looks like her has been victimised TWICE – she STILL decides to wander off campus without telling anyone!

Daniel: it’s dangerous out there, people want to kill you, you must stay on campus
Luce: Sure. Oh a bus ticket off campus! Time for a trip! Oh, someone lured me off campus to shoot me. Thanks for the rescue, Cam! Though I still think you’re evil and will never actually examine your actions or ask questions about them.
Daniel: Look, you were attacked, stay on campus!
Luce: Ok, I understand. Hey a boat trip! Time for some sailing! Ah the sea air, the sun – oh look, girl who looks like me was nearly drowned!
Daniel: Why did you leave campus!? Stay on campus!!!!
Luce: FINE. Shelby, wanna come on a road trip to see my past-life parents? I’m bored of wandering all alone in these forests without telling anyone where I am
Shelby: Sure! I’ll steal a car and tell no-one where we’re going! Road trip!
Daniel:  STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!!!! While you were wandering alone in the forest the girl who looked like you was kidnapped!
Luce: Oh my god, they thought it was me! How awful, I must stay safe. Hey, Miles, Shelby, ANNOUNCER TRIP TO VEGAS GUYS! Sure we have no idea how we’re getting home and we’re not telling anyone that we’re teleporting out of state, but it should be fun!

Daniel, are you sure it’s a curse that kills Luce every time she reaches the age of 17? She seems to have the survival instinct of a suicidal lemming. Luce’s agency is constantly restricted and controlled by Daniel and the Angels in general – it’s utterly out of line how little they tell her. And if I were here I would have run to Stephen and Francesca’s office and screamed bloody murder until someone told me something. Instead the only agency she shows is some vague complaints and lots and lots of extremely foolish, dangerous chance taking (like running off without telling people and poking Announcers after being expressly told how dangerous they are).

All in all, after the introduction of the epic in the last story we reverted back to another book that revolved around Luce’s emotional state. Her uncertainties, her angst, her relationship woes, her ignorance and her growing obsession with her past lives which was never really explained adequately to me. The world itself and the story behind it is also not explained either to Luce or the reader – we just know forces are out there and stuff is happening with no real explanation. The whole angelic world’s treatment of Luce is shockingly patronising and disrespectful, while Luce’s actions are mind boggling in their foolishness and her internal monologue is mind numbing in its dullness. We have some issues that could have been developed (like Luce’s ability to channel the Announcers when fencing) which weren’t. And far too many issues that weren’t needed (Shelby’s hostility/jealousy, Miles the unnecessary love interest) but we had to spend untold pages reading about.