A grim diagnosis sends Davis to a corrupt recovery facility called TOR-N. There she meets Mercer, a fellow patient and determined optimist. Together they craft a plan to escape the facility and expose the truth about the crumbling facility and poor patient treatment. Davis embraces Mercer’s enthusiasm, but even his charms aren’t enough to make her forget Cole.
After faking his death to spare his family from government retribution, Cole is in hiding. Only his best friend knows he’s still alive. Day by day he develops a plan to get out of the slums and earn enough money to build a life for him and Davis. Then he’ll rescue her from TOR-N and they’ll live happily ever after. That is, if he can manage to keep his identity hidden and beat the genetically enhanced Prior contestants in the Olympiads.
The story begins after Davis’s diagnosis and transfer to TOR-N and after Cole’s faked death and funeral. From page one, tensions run high. Not only are both characters already in pretty dire straits, but they’re separated, and Davis believes Cole is dead, so she’s wrestling with grief on top of everything else. Davis has been diagnosed with Narxis, a plague that’s been ravaging her people – the Priors, those genetically enhanced to excel.
Unfortunately, it’s the genetic manipulation that’s made the Priors vulnerable to disease. Cole’s friend claims to be close to a cure, but his experiments may be too costly to complete. Intriguing moral issues make this story difficult to put down. Genetic improvements make people vulnerable to a new disease (are the enhancements really enhancements then?) Potentially life-saving experiments can only be completed at a high moral cost. Is the sacrifice worth it? What if the test subjects aren’t fully informed of the risks?
The conclusion unfolds rapidly, maintaining the high tension that began on page one, but also speeding past some moments that warranted a little more time in scene. I wanted to know more about Davis’s relationship with her father and why she felt so compelled to seek her estranged mother. There were definitely scenes that included information about those things, and they were nicely tied into the story, but it definitely left me wanting more. Torn is the second book in The Feuds series. Some of the moments I crave are probably waiting for me in the first book in this series. I’ve already purchased the first book in the series and added it to my reading list so I can find out.
At the beginning of Torn, I wasn’t sure I’d like Cole’s character. He’s a bit immature and not the sharpest when it comes to relationships with others. He grows quite a bit and really earned my respect. By the end, I could definitely see what Davis saw in him. As with Davis’s story, Cole’s speeds through some final scenes. I wanted to see more of the Olympiad games. I suspect all that would have made a lot more sense to me if I’d been more familiar with the series. I definitely recommend reading the first book before starting Torn, but it’s not essential to do so. I was able to follow the story without knowing the first book, but I think I would have gotten more out of it if I’d read them in order.
Hastings has done a great job setting up this really complex story world with a lot of big moral conflicts. Fans of Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (These Broken Stars) or Scott Westerfeld (Uglies) will enjoy the moral issues over advanced technology highlighted in Torn. Readers looking for an action-packed drama with sweet romance will definitely want to add this one to their to-be-read lists.
Extreme profanity used with moderate frequency.
References to a night spent together (Davis and Cole) on top of a hospital. Kissing is mentioned, but nothing further.
Cole attacks a researcher when he discovers a mistreated patient. Cole battles other contestants in the Olympiad, a high stakes, physically competitive game.
Cole is offered a supplement that Priors use to enhance senses during his Olympiad trial. It’s clear that without these advantages, he doesn’t stand a chance against his opponents.