Don’t read this unless you’ve read Fallen, as there will be some major spoilers from that first book!
Torment by Lauren Kate (published on September 28th, 2010) picks up right where Fallen left off. Luce’s life is in danger, now that the bad guys know she’s different in this life than she’d been in any of the previous ones. This time, when she dies, she dies for good, and all sorts of enemies are coming out of the woodwork to try and take advantage of this fact. None are worse than the Outcasts—fallen immortals that have no home with Heaven or Hell. They have nothing to lose, and they are doing everything they can to end Luce’s life and the curse she seems to be mysteriously tied up in.
Daniel’s solution to keep her safe is to move her to Shorline, an elite school in California, where the gifted students are actually Nephilim, the children of an angel-human mating.
Of course, Luce is kept in the dark as to why this school is good for her, and she has to stumble around trying to figure out what exactly is going on. She finds she’s starting to resent Daniel, since he’s always telling her what to do (“for her own safety”), and yet he never reveals any facts that help Luce on her way to a better understanding of her situation.
One major upside to Shoreline is the Nephilim classes, where Luce finally begins to understand what the Shadows really are, what the mean to her, and how she can use them in her quest for the truth.
I really enjoyed this book, even more than the first one. The foundations of the world had been laid, thanks to Fallen, and so now, with that entire back story, author Lauren Kate was able to build on the mysteries and half-truths she planted in the first book.
I loved seeing Luce in an angel-influenced learning environment. She’s not a Nephilim, but she’s so tied up in that world that she fits in perfectly with all the strange stuff that these half-breeds can do. The friends are uniquely different than the characters we met in book one, each one having a strong voice and presence.
I also really enjoyed the spiritual aspect of this book. Not in a religious sense, but the way the author toys with pre-conceived ideas of spirituality and what is real. I liked the way this was presented in an academic setting, which allowed for it to be viewed from a more historical aspect. When angels are the main theme, there’s going to be some interesting cross-over between the divine and the secular, and I think Kate handles it with grace and intelligence.
The overdone themes weren’t as strong in this book, as the uniquely creative elements the author came up with really started to shine. I also think she really does a fantastic job with making the characters real and believable, even with the supernatural elements tied around them. Luce’s frustration and confusion felt real to me, coming strongly across the page, only adding to the story’s appeal.
I liked Torment much more than Fallen. I picked it up because I had it, and I knew I wanted to read it, but by the end I needed to grab book three immediately, to see where the story went. This was a most-excellent second book, adding strength to the series and carrying the story confidently forward.