Genre: Urban Fantasy, New Adult, Romance
Publisher: Jennifer L. Armentrout on July 19, 2016
Torn between duty and survival, nothing can be the same.
Everything Ivy Morgan thought she knew has been turned on its head. View Spoiler »
I’ve read some pretty bad books in my time, and at least a few of them were written by JLA, but this one takes the cake. Bad writing; a nonsensical plot line; and countless problematic representations of gender, sexuality, and sexual violence combine to make TORN the worst book I’ve read in recent memory. Thank god for Becky and Kaja, who buddy suffered through this one with me (via buddy read) and made it bearable by ripping it to shreds. Spoilers ahead (but it’s worth it to read them, trust me).
As member of the Order, Ivy is tasked with patrolling the streets of New Orleans hunting for Fae. In this universe, Fae use their glamour to compel humans and feed on them, often draining their life force in the process. Not exactly Tinkerbell, is what I’m saying. So members of the Order are understandably freaked when news of a Fae Prince’s arrival in New Orleans reaches their ears…but no one has more cause for concern than Ivy. In the first book, WICKED, Ivy unearthed some secrets about her heritage that put her directly in the Prince’s line of fire. Turns out that the Prince has arrived on earth to find Ivy and impregnate her with a child that will usher in the Fae apocalypse. But it’s okay, because the child can only be conceived if Ivy gives her consent!
If you’re thinking “ummm what the hell?” then rest assured, you’re not alone. Maybe I should’ve known that something bizarre like this would occur – this is JLA we’re talking about here – but the threat of the apocalypse baby is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to horrible representations of sexuality. If you find issues of sexual violence and non-con triggering, then you should 100% skip this series (and probably all books by JLA honestly).
For a book with so many problematic elements in it, there really isn’t much that actually happens in TORN. Ivy spends an awful lot of time feeling sorry for herself and getting distracted by the fact that her boyfriend is a jerk who handles upsetting news poorly. Remove the senseless deaths of innocent people and the normalization of sexual violence and there’s really nothing to TORN.
The threat of rape, assault, and glamour-induced coercion is repeatedly levelled against Ivy (and Ren too, although that’s completely glossed over because he’s a ~man~). But JLA assures us we shouldn’t worry because the Prince can’t make Ivy conceive unless she consents to sex with him. But, you know, he could still rape her. <– That casual tone is exactly how JLA discusses sexual violence in TORN, and it enraged me. Another really frustrating element of the book? The word “rape” is never used, not once. The Prince repeatedly drugs, coerces, and manipulates Ivy in an attempt to “put a baby in her belly” but that’s never explicitly named as sexual violence. And when Ivy’s boyfriend Ren is sexually assaulted and possibly raped by a female Fae, the word “rape” isn’t used either. Your readers see through these weird euphemisms, JLA!
On top of all of this, JLA also completely isolates Ivy from all of her friends. In WICKED, Ivy’s BFF Val is revealed as a turncoat and in TORN the Prince murders her in a weird play for Ivy’s respect/affection. Of course, the Order also murders Val’s parents because they must be evil people if their daughter made poor choices, right? *facepalm* She also can’t trust her roomie Tink, the formerly doll-sized brownie because guess what? He can be a human-sized hottie if he wants to be! In JLA land this likely means that he views Ivy as a sex object, as all “females” are.
In the past I’ve struggled to quite JLA, as her work is essentially the bookish version of crack. But I think I finally mean it when I say that I’ve been burned by Jennifer L. Armentrout (JLA) for the last time.