Fallen, the first book in Lauren Kate’s series, ticked all the boxes for YA paranormal romance: mysterious hot guys, shadowy threats, doomed love and a gothic setting.
The first novel introduced the main characters and enough background to set the scene for a far broader story in the next instalment. By the end of Fallen, I was hoping Kate would further explore the concept of fated love in future books – particularly the role of personal choice.
While it took me a while to get into Torment (although it might have made a difference if I’d re-read Fallen first), I was happy to discover the notions of fate and choice emerge as being central themes.
Quick catch up: Teenager Luce is one half of a couple doomed to fall in love over and over again – and each time she must die. And each time, Luce has no idea what’s happened in the past, or what’s ahead. That burden is carried by Daniel, her fallen angel lover, who’s incapable of preventing her death.
Except in Fallen, Luce didn’t die, which seems to have sparked a huge celestial battle (the details of which remain frustratingly murky in the second book).
Luce is now in another boarding school – this one supposedly able to keep her safe during a short truce between angels and demons, who have joined forces to fight common enemies intent on getting their hands on her (for purposes also not clear).
Daniel’s all business this time around, which frustrates Luce no end. He might remember their hundreds of other relationships during her past lives, but she doesn’t, and at one point she actually asks herself that if this life was all she had to go on, would it be enough. The answer is no, and it raises a few questions for her. (OK, so Luce doesn’t wrestle with deep existential questions, but she does at least think beyond her hormones)
So, instead of giving us fated lovers who are torn apart by circumstance, Kate gives us fated lovers whose circumstance prompts at least one half of the couple to ask: is being destined for each other enough to make up for the pain their cursed love causes others (and themselves)?
It’s actually a refreshing take on the topic, particularly in the YA genre.
I like the ambiguity in Torment. Sure, Luce will probably end up with Daniel at the end of this series but at this point there’s still some question about his motives, which keeps it interesting. (And I know I’ll always cheer the bad boys, but how much more interesting is Cam than any other romantic interest in Luce’s life?)
The ending got a tad crowded with characters, and a bit more exposition on the mythology would have been handy, but ultimately, Torment delivered more than I expected – which is always a good thing.