Torn (Feuds #2) by Avery Hastings

23014695Cover Lust: This cover is absolutely stunning! It has the same chemical-inspired backdrop as Feudsbut instead of the purple it has a teal color scheme. Davis looks like a cosmic-inspired ballerina who’s dancing and floating at the same time. I like how we can see her face and that her hair still gets a lot of attention. I was hoping for a ballerina bun, but her ponytail is lustrous and envious. The leotard is cute, but I’m slightly disappointed that she’s not wearing a tutu or pointe shoes. Nonetheless, the cover is still gorgeous.

Back Blurb: In the final thrilling installment of the Feuds series, Davis and Cole must battle seemingly insurmountable forces to find their way back home–-and back to each other.

Determined to escape from TOR-n, a corrupt Narxis research center, Davis meets another recovered patient, Mercer, whose sweet smile and quirky sense of humor give her hope in humanity again–-and a way out. As they make a perilous journey seeking clues that could lead to a cure, Davis and Mercer’s friendship begins to evolve into something more…but she’s still struggling to let go of her feelings for Cole, who she believes is dead.

Meanwhile, Cole has plans to change his identity in order to compete in the Olympiads–-where Imps have now been invited to compete against Priors. He begins training with Mari, the intense and rebellious daughter of a retired fighter, but through trials that are both exhausting and exhilarating, he finds himself in over his head.

Will Davis and Cole have the strength to resist temptation? Will they have the courage to face the answers they’re seeking? Will their love survive across the divide?

The Book: After over a year of anticipation, I was beyond excited to finally got a copy of Torn. I’m sad to say I didn’t enjoy it as much as Feuds. The story was convoluted and I had to reread it several times to understand what was going on. The premise was much different from Feuds and introduced a lot of new characters. Other characters disappeared without explanation. The story was complicated and filled with references to things that never happened. The main idea was interesting, but the endless plot holes made it difficult to understand.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEADFeuds left us with Davis finding out her mother actually escaped from the hospital when Davis was born and may possibly be alive. Davis qualified for the Olympiads, but Vera blew them. Something was wrong with Vera, but she was afraid to tell Davis. Davis discovered she is “NOT FULLY A PRIOR,” but we’re not yet sure what that means. She was captured by quarantine officials and believed Cole to be dead. Cole faked his death to escape the police and went into hiding. Michelle was unable to deliver Cole’s message to Davis before she was taken, so Cole is determined to find her. Parson Abel was arrested, most likely for his involvement with the FEUDS, but we’re not exactly sure.

The Plot: A lot of different things are going on in Torn. Davis and Cole are apart and tell their stories separately. Let’s break things down for simplicity:

  • A Plot: Davis is at TOR-n, coping with Cole’s death and planning an escape with another patient named Mercer. They both have a Neither status, meaning they’re not fully Prior but not Gen. They discovered that a doctor from Durham, where Mercer is from, thinks he can find an immediate cure for Narxis. He needs samples of Neither blood because something about their status enables them to heal from the virus. Davis and Mercer break out of TOR-n and travel from the Everglades to Durham in search of Dr. Hassman. It’s too late for Davis to save Cole, but she can possibly save thousands from succumbing to Narxis. She soon realizes Mercer has feelings for her, but Cole’s death is so fresh in her mind that involving herself with another man seems like a betrayal. Unfortunately for Davis, she is the one who ends up betrayed.
  • B Plot: Cole is intent on finding Davis. He plans on changing his identity so he can compete in the Olympiads. If he wins, he’ll have enough money to travel from Columbus to the Everglades and save Davis. He’ll also be able to take his mother somewhere far away, where Gens are accepted and she’ll no longer have to work. Cole wants nothing more than take care of his mother and let her live a peaceful, restful life. But Cole is in hiding; he can’t let his family know he’s alive. His best friend Brent discovers the truth and helps him swap identities and compete in the Olympiads. Cole trains with Mari, the daughter of a renowned coach and Olympiad winner. Despite his love for Davis, Cole develops feelings for Mari. He begins to wonder whether things would even work out with Davis and if she would be better off if he just let her go.
  • C Plot: Worsley, a young prodigy, is convinced he can find a cure for Narxis. He’s using Vera and her unborn baby as an experiment. He’s so obsessed with his work that he starts losing his mind, focusing only on the vaccine and forgetting that Vera is a human and not a science project. Worsley makes several mistakes. Vera and the baby, whom he injects with Narxis, become very sick.

First, the beginning. It sounds as if Davis was kidnapped and taken to a death camp. When did her father supposedly “send” her there? Apparently we missed that in FEUDS. If Davis knew, why didn’t she know what was going on when she was taken? She was captured by quarantine officials, bound, thrown into a van, and hauled off on a boat filled with sick people and dead bodies.

TOR-n stands for the Territories’ Operational Research – Narxis facility. But what exactly is it? At first it sounds like an internment, then it sounds like a normal penitentiary. Patients are first treated like property, but then given chances to earn merit points and privileges. Davis is even given a tablet while she’s there. Patients are supposedly given medical treatment, but most of it is useless testing as a guise of searching for a cure. The facility is being funded, but the doctors are skimming the money and not reporting back to government officials. Davis believes her father is paying for her to be there like it’s some kind of fancy rehab facility. But other patients are sent there by their families out of shame. So are some patients paying to be sent there and others are sent by government officials? All patients are considered to be wards of the state, regardless of whether they’ve paid to be there. It sounds like people’s families are paying for them to go to jail.

Back in the Slants, the story is easier to follow. Vera unexpectedly got pregnant with Oscar’s baby and blew her chances in the Olympiads. Her parents were ashamed so they dumped her in the Slants. Worsley believes this baby may hold the cure for Narxis, so the stakes are high for him to keep them both alive. Mari’s training for Cole involves a lot of twisted Hunger Games type of mental torture, but it prepares him adequately for the sick minds of the Olympiad designers. Cole’s best friend Brent is dating Michelle, but she’s obviously still in love with Cole. Cole struggles with his newfound feelings for Mari, lack of feelings for Michelle, and passionate love for Davis. He’s hiding the fact that he’s alive from his family, so Worsley and his friends are the only ones who can help him.

The Characters:

  • Vera: Poor Vera. I love that girl. I looked forward most to reading her parts of the story. It broke my heart learning that her parents and Oscar dumped her in the Slants. It’s sad that she got pregnant before she was ready, but I love the thought of Vera being a mother. She’s such a loving friend and good person that you know she’ll give her baby the world. And of course she’ll look polished and poised while doing it.
  • Mari: Mari was a likable character. At first she was just crazy, but after getting her backstory you started to really feel sorry for her. The girl grew up without a mother, like Davis, but in poverty. Mari saw a lot that she shouldn’t have during her father’s Olympiad days. It made her grow up fast and jaded. She deserves genuine happiness. I’d like to see her go on to do great things.
  • Mercer: This guy’s definitely a weird one. He’s suspicious right from the beginning. He seems to know way more than he lets on and his intentions are not always clear. The whole idea of him being at TOR-n is questionable. Neithers aren’t allowed in Durham, but he has so many connections there and his status wasn’t known. Why would he send himself to a death camp? Why wouldn’t he have stayed and sought help there if he knows all these doctors and scientists? And how was he communicating with Jan and his other friends, like the people at the commune, while he was in TOR-n? His whole M.O. just doesn’t make sense.
  • Worsley: Worsley did nothing but great things, but his attitude towards everything was not always so great. He seems to age quickly during Torn, becoming an obsessive hermit and generally creepy. He let his anger get the best of him a lot of times and it made me despise him.
  • Cole’s Mom: Torn introduced us to lots of new characters, but we never meet Cole’s mother. I think getting to know her would have given us a lot of new background on Cole.

Stuff I Didn’t Get: There were a lot of weird inconsistencies that were never explained. The story didn’t pick up immediately where Feuds ended, so there’s some missing information. For example, both Davis and Cole seem to think about things they did with each other, or things they know about each other, that seemed cut out of the book. When did they spend all this time together when they supposedly got to know one another and build memories? Yes, they’re in love, but in reality they only knew each other for a few weeks before they were separated.

It’s also briefly mentioned that Cole and Mari saw each other naked, supposedly while they were helping Vera. But how did this happen? Was it somehow necessary for them to remove their clothes to use for Vera, or did they just get frisky? For Davis’s sake, we’ll never know.

Something frustrating and glaringly obvious was the constant name switching. Thomas Worsley was called Tom, Thomas, and Worsley. Each time he was mentioned he was called something else, just like Parson Abel in the first book. What are we supposed to call them? And by the way, what happened to Parson Abel? We know he was arrested, supposedly for running the FEUDS, but we never found out why and didn’t hear from him again.

The spelling of names was inconsistent, as well. In Rival, Gabrielle’s last name changed from Rydell to Reydell. At the end of Feuds, we discovered Cole’s last name is Everett. But in Torn, it was changed to Everest. That means his brother’s name is Hamilton Everest and he was named after two mountains–-Mt. Hamilton in San Jose, California and Mt. Everest. Did Mama Everest do this intentionally?

Lots of people died, but no one really died. A surefire way to get me to cry at the end of a book is to kill off my favorite characters. The protagonists almost always live, but brave authors like to axe major characters to get the tear factor flowing. It’s an evil trick to get you emotionally attached to the story. In the Feuds saga, tons of nameless and/or faceless characters died, but not one single important character died. Everyone significant survived, so the emotional loss factor wasn’t there. If Vera or her baby had died, I would have been crushed. If Cole or Davis had died, that would have really hit home with the whole star-crossed lovers theme. I would have been satisfied if someone like Worsley died, because his actions were pivotal to the story but I didn’t really care for him too much.

The Ending: The story was a bit difficult to follow, but the ending cleaned everything up nice and neatly. It was actually a little too perfect to be considered memorable. Everything seemed to fall into place exactly how everyone wanted it. Personally, I think Cole should have ended up with Mari. I think Cole is perfect for Davis, but Davis is not perfect for Cole. He and Mari have so much more in common and would have made a great couple. Davis grew in maturity over the course of her story, but I don’t think she will ever be as tough as Cole, even after her experience at TOR-n. It would have been refreshing to have an ending where the star-crossed lovers do not end up together.

I really liked what happened when Davis discovered the truth about her mother. It was relatable because a lot of people grow up in blended families and know what it’s like to have an absent parent. You don’t need to be blood-related to be considered family. Terri is a wonderful stepmother and Davis is lucky to have her.

The best part of the ending was Vera giving birth to her baby. The little girl’s name was a fitting way to end the story. Vera is by far my favorite character. I’d love to see a novella or bonus scene from her perspective.

What’s Next: As of now, Avery hasn’t announced any new novels in the works. Even though I didn’t enjoy Torn as much as Feuds, I’m looking forward to seeing what else she’s got in store for us. In the meantime, check her out on Twitter for the latest news.

What did you think of Torn? Sound off in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

 

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