Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: Torn - David Massey

David Massey
Series: N/A
Genre: Realistic Fiction, War, Young Adult, Action, Mystery, Love
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Thrilling
On Goodreads

This novel is, if anything, extremely blunt and forward. It does not hold back. From the blurb on the back cover, I first thought it would be a mediocre action-drama with blood and guts and a little bit of love, as tacky but as heartfelt as the rest. Fortunately, I found that David Massey is anything but tacky. This piece is wrought with emotion, humor, suspense, and insight on the human mind under pressure.

What struck me the most was the sense of realism that absolutely earns this novel its genre. It may well have been a series of letters. Massey was able to clearly describe the environment of a war that others struggle to understand or even imagine, all through the eyes of a young woman who seems so genuine it is difficult to consider she is the fictitious work of any man at all.
As if in answer, there is the crackle of gunfire behind us in the village. It looks like the rest of the platoon has troubles of its own. (Massey, 23)
What I loved the most: this simple and effective writing. Not only does this bit lend us important information about the rest of the platoon, but it gives us incredible insight on the people involved. If a regular person were in this situation, the adrenaline and gunfire would have them running or insane. Instead, Private Nielson doesn't even consider it. There is this horror:
The walls around it are pockmarked with bullet holes and blood. (72)
Which is beautifully measured by the mystery elements I'd like not to give away, and the lighthearted bits (like the football match) that allow the characters -- and you -- to have some breathing space. The relief and that spark of romance, as well, are balanced by the fear of the war, the mysteries surrounding the girl, Aroush, and the fact that everyone in this novel has something to hide. Everyone has layers and layers that Massey shows can only be exposed under the harsh conditions they are forced to face.

The relationships formed under the pressure of war are astounding. For instance, even in the first few pages, Ellie and Yugi bond like they'd been friends for a lifetime and Yugi would protect her from anything. Similar unlikely relationships develop and change Ellie from the girl she was before tracing blood on the field, especially her friendship with Husna, a thirteen year old boy.

It is a short novel but it has much to say about human nature and society. However, I would have loved for there to be a few more chapters of it, maybe? Some more exposition on the feelings between Ben and Ellie, because at times the novel can get quite rough, and not even the quasi-mystical aura of Aroush could soften it. But I suppose that's what Massey teaches. War is hard, but it is war.

- Swordfish

How do you think you could handle being in Ellie's shoes? Would you have been able to cope with all she was forced to go through? 
Let us know in the comments!

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