In the world of YA novels there are two kinds of books: Those meant strictly for the YA audience and those that appeal to all ages. It’s hard to define what separates the two but I definitely know it when I see it. This novel falls into the YA audience only category.
Wendy Everly wasn’t totally shocked to discover she is a troll. She’d always had that wild hair and nasty temper after all. But discovering that trolls (who call themselves the Tyrelle) are actually humans with powers such as telekinesis and telepathy and that she is the Princess of her people has come as something of a shock. Now, even as she adapts to this new world order she discovers there are yet more secrets in her past. The clan of her enemies – the Vittra – actually contains two people very important to her. Loki, a prince who is hoping to marry her, and the King, who holds a very special relationship to her indeed.
Torn picks up where Switched left off. I would strongly advise reading them in order. While Wendy had managed to escape the Tyrelle with Rhys, she quickly finds herself back in troll hands when she is captured by Loki, an extremely powerful Vittra who can incapacitate people with his mind. The Vittra don’t treat Wendy, Rhys and Matt (her foster brother) with near the respect the Tyrelle did. Not only has Wendy taken a physical beat down but they are kept in a dungeon. While Wendy is eventually allowed some freedom (she is moved to a room), the two boys are held hostage against her good behavior. Thank God, Finn, her bodyguard and sometimes crush, comes to their rescue.
Being safe and secure back in the Tyrelle capital doesn’t solve her problems, though. Wendy is not impressed by her stay with the Vittra. But neither is she thrilled with the Tyrelle. Her very existence is causing undo hardship for the people of both kingdoms. And both kingdoms are looking to her to solve centuries of problems. Wendy just wants to have a life. There is the issue of the class difference between her and body guard Finn. She wants him to forget it but he knows her marriage must be one made for politics or power. There is the issue of her “foster” brothers Matt and Rhys, who mean everything to her but whom she is putting in serious jeopardy just by loving them. There is the issue of who Matt is falling for, who her mom is sleeping with, and just what the heck she is going to wear to her betrothal ball. Oh, and who that betrothal will be to. Hook ups, friendships, and love affairs – the problem of every teen, even if she is an extremely powerful troll princess.
I have to give the author points for trying to be original. The idea of trolls is one I haven’t seen done before. Unfortunately, aside from slightly unruly hair and a penchant for going shoeless there is really nothing troll like about any of the characters. Wendy starts out with a teenage temperament on the argumentative side but that is not unexpected in, well, teenagers. She is also not unreasonable – asking to not have your name changed and to get to pick who you will marry seem pretty average to me. Especially if you are raising your kids in the US of A. So the whole idea that she has the temper of a troll didn’t fly with me. Essentially, the Tyrelle are like the Cullens, only the leader is an autocratic woman and none of them suck blood to stay alive.
Wendy is, like most teenagers, mercurial. I din’t find her mature enough to marry. She just isn’t ready and has never even had a decent dating relationship. And yet she shows amazing maturity in how she tries to handle being a leader. Yes, she makes mistakes and doesn’t get every little political nuance, but she tries really hard and mostly succeeds. For the most part, I liked her. She makes a fine YA heroine, but for me she lacked that spark to make her exceptional. She blends into the market of paranormals in this genre with barely a blip. She gets points for growing (some of them, sadly, stay stuck in their immaturity) but she didn’t impress beyond that.
The romance here isn’t strong. That’s because Wendy is still working out her possibilities: Should she go with Finn, whom she likes but who is totally inappropriate? Or should she go with Loki, inappropriate in a whole different way? What about Tove, who is nearly perfect but whom she only likes as a friend? I didn’t get a feel for any of the three boys because we just didn’t see Wendy spend enough time with them. Part of it is that she also comes across as very teen – while many YA heroines are old souls Wendy is not. She’s a good kid but she’s a kid. When she is with each of the guys I can’t think beyond her maybe at some point discovering a first love. But there isn’t enough passion between her and any of the guys to say we have the everlasting love thing going.
I should add that these critiques aren’t really criticisms. At her age, Wendy shouldn’t really have to worry about picking a husband – she should be looking over her options and wondering which would be best for right now. She should be mercurial – she still has a lot of growing up to do and that takes its toll on a person. There is nothing “wrong” about the above, it just makes the book less easy for adults to relate to. And while I had trouble with the blandness of the world building, this novel is very readable. It’s told in a friendly, first person style that keeps you engaged without making you obsessed.
If you have young teens in your house who like paranormals, I would recommend this series to them. It lacks grown up appeal, though.