August 23rd, 2012


by Ashley S. Morgan

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Isadora Rivers feels trapped. Her small town high school is suffocating her. Another day of wannabe gangsters, dumb jocks, and Barbie clones, and she’ll just lose it. Her keen emotional sensitivity is to blame. She sees through all of the poser behavior to the pain and insecurity simmering just below the surface, and it’s overwhelming. She feels like she’s literally drowning in other people’s emotions.

This same sensitivity, however, makes her a great actress. Suffocating or not, her high school is one of the top arts schools in the country. Acting is not only her passion, but it also looks like her way out. If she can just score the lead role in the school play, she might get herself noticed by a Hollywood agent. But she’s got a strong reckless streak, and it keeps getting her in trouble and jeopardizing her chances.

Riding her bike at top speed, she swerves in front of a car and nearly gets hit. The driver, Tristan Blake, turns out to be the mysterious new boy at school. He’s rebellious, broody, and wise beyond his years. He’s also devastatingly gorgeous. From the moment their eyes meet, Isadora is irresistibly drawn to him. But as soon as he enters her life, things go horribly wrong. She begins having disturbing visions full of unimaginable glamour and unbearable darkness. He knows things about her he shouldn’t. And he’s somehow so familiar. As he at turns pulls her close, and then pushes her away, Isadora feels like her heart is being twisted and torn.

She soon discovers that her whole future is in jeopardy, and her only hope is to stay away from Tristan. But how can she turn away from the only boy she has ever loved? As a harrowing event looms closer, one that threatens to rip apart her psyche, Isadora must reach deep inside herself and find the strength to change her own destiny. But is she strong enough to do it?


What do you get when you mix up a reckless heroine, a strangely familiar yet typically broody love interest, and a series of creepy flashes that ultimately string our characters’ fates together? Well, my friends, you get Torn: the book that you thought was a contemporary until, suddenly, it wasn’t. Dun, dun, dun.

Isadora’s number one issue is simply that she feels too much. She leads with her emotions and, consequently, is impulsive to the point of recklessness. Although in Torn this trait is portrayed as her Achilles’ heel, for me it made her character; an analytical Isadora is an Isadora that I’m not sure I would have liked getting to know. At some points in this novel I did feel like strangling our protagonist, it’s true, but I thoroughly enjoyed living through a character so fully-developed that I felt that strongly towards her.

My favourite part of Isadora, though, isn’t her reckless streak: it’s her supporting cast. I’ve encoutered many a YA heroine who, when confronted with the ‘dying’ part of their undying romance, become isolated and friendless (*cough* Bella *cough*).  Isadora, however, remains surrounded by her loving family and wholly supportive best friend through all of her obstacles. I really enjoyed this–  so much so that you’d think that YA authors as a whole would convene and unanimously decide that protagonists with no friends or parents are, in fact, unhealthy and should therefore be avoided in most situations as they set a bad example to the teenage population.

It was easy for me to get sucked into this book, and easy for me to get sucked out of it. While I was reading Torn, it proved to be incredibly riveting. However, I had to stop reading halfway through in order to begin my fervent leaf-through of Ruby, and although I had left Torn at a critical point in the plot, I did not think about it once over the next few days. Isadora’s world was, to me, an escape– nothing more, nothing less.

In fact, this was such an easy read that I’m surprised at the strong messages that it conveyed, one of which has to do with fame and its negative ramifications. When Isadora, an aspiring actress, starts having glimpses at what it’s really like in Hollywood, we readers become more acquainted with L.A.’s celebrity hub’s dismal and sinister angle than the picturesque place we see in some books. And yes, this dismal, sinister angle of which I’m speaking does involve drugged-up, synthetic starlets– if Torn had a theme song, that song would definitely be Californication.

Maybe Miss Morgan’s loud voice on these matters is why I’m so disappointed that, after finishing it, I look back on Torn as such a trivial read. Filled with strong, supported protagonists and controversial topics that do need to be confronted, Torn clearly contains all of the right ingredients to cook up a novel that stays with you. But it didn’t stay with me. It didn’t really have enough presence to stay with anything at all. It could have, but it didn’t.  As I mentioned before, it was an undemanding read that barely required any mental effort.

One other point on which Torn failed to sell me is its predictability. I must admit that I did not see the twist coming in the least, and that was refreshing. Nevertheless, I feel as though I’ve read this plot over a million times before– giving it a new, twisted face doesn’t change the basics. Perhaps that’s why I seem to attribute such an inconsequence to this book. And maybe it’s because I’m having a new obsession with a different book blog, Anna Reads, or maybe it’s because I have work to do and I’m procrastinating, or maybe it’s because I’m so downright creative, but I’ve drawn out the afore-mentioned basics for you.

(As a side note, I am sorry to subject you all to my horribly disproportionate stick figures. I simply can’t help myself.)

All in all, I give Torn a solid 3.3/5 stars. For fans of reckless heroines, the dark side of Hollywood, and  the effects of should-be YA author conventions.

I’ll keep you posted,

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  1. Pingback: Giveaway of Torn | What YA Reading?

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