Review: Torn by Jennifer L. Armentrout

TornTorn by Jennifer L. Armentrout (A Wicked Saga #2)

Genre: Urban Fantasy, New Adult, Romance

Publisher: Jennifer L. Armentrout on July 19, 2016

Source: Purchased

Rating Star

Torn between duty and survival, nothing can be the same.

Everything Ivy Morgan thought she knew has been turned on its head.

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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.

What’s the worst book you’ve read in 2016? Do you give authors a second (or third) chance when they write a bad book? Let me know in the comments!

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  • Wow. This sounds terrible! Thanks for reading it so that the rest of us know to avoid it 😀

    • Danya from Fine Print: she reads awful books so you don’t have to. HA! 😀

  • Wow, where to start? This one sounds like a train wreck. I’ll probably never read this (or anything by this author) so I had no problems reading it for spoilers. This is seriously for young/new adults?

    • Yes, it’s seriously for new adults!!! Ugh. Considering how important issues of consent and sexual assault are among that demographic you’d think that JLA would put a bit more thought into these things, but apparently not. I wish I could wipe it from my mind, tbh.

  • I don’t get the hype over her books at all. I’ve tried a majority of them and I know 100% I’m never going to read any more. They are super problematic and are basically inspired by other popular books, which always rubs me the wrong way. I wasn’t interested in this series, but WOW. This review just makes me sick because of all the rape and consent threats. And the fact that one of them is sexually assaulted, but the term rape is never used? That just makes me angry. This whole book sounds like a hot mess. I’m sorry you had to suffer through this one.

    • I think the thing that appeals most about them is her snarky banter, but the honest truth of it is that there are tons of other, less problematic reads out there that also make good use of snarky banter. I’m officially done with Armentrout’s books. Don’t get me wrong, I like a trashy read now and then, but this is just beyond the pale.

      It really was a hot mess, Nick. SUCH a hot mess. You’re not missing out on anything! Haha.

  • I have had a few worst one, some have sucked but srsly, I think the honor has to go to the Colgan book I just read. I graded it ok cos it started off that way but man it was bad at the end

    • Oh no, I remember your review for that one! It sucks so much when a book starts off promising and then quickly goes south because your expectations are set high from the beginning. Bummer!

  • Ahh, yes. I thought your review would look like this. 😀 Becky’s and mine aren’t much better. I think the two of us will have to rely on Becky reading the third part on her own and then reporting on Ivy’s stupidity. It’s unbelievable that such a book can be written in the 21st century but perhaps it would have been toned down if it wasn’t self published? Do you think that’s a part of the problem?

    Anyway, yeah, you make a great point that Ren’s possible rape wasn’t ever problematized (well, not that Ivy’s was, either, but still). Double standards all around.

    I wonder if there’s any way for Armentrout to redeem herself in book 3 because I just can’t see it. And I’m giving her up, too, there are just so many other paranormal series I haven’t read yet that continuing this would be the worst kind of stupidity. Bah.

    • I am nothing if not consistent in my rants, haha! 😀 Yes, I will 100% be relying on Becky’s commitment to finishing series to learn what happens in the final book. I think that the content errors and sloppy writing can be attributed to self-pub (and a rush job on that, since many self-pub books don’t have those issues) but I’m not sure about the content. Maybe JLA’s just getting weirder as time progresses?

      Sexism and double standards in a JLA book…wow what a shocker. Hahaha! 😉

      I actually really love semi-trashy paranormal books (as you know well!) so it makes me mad that I wasted time and money on this book when I could’ve been reading something that I’d actually enjoy. Grrr!

  • “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.” That sentence right there was enough for me to say nope.

    I’m so tired of authors writing about their protagonists getting drugged and sexually assaulted, but not calling it rape or even making it a real issue in their stories. I’m seeing it way too often lately. Especially in new adult and young adult fantasy books.

    • I know…it kind of pained me to write that sentence, honestly. But it’s very gratifying that other people are similarly disgusted! Haha.

      YES thank you! If you’re going to go there, then you have to actually GO there and address the very serious reality. Consent and sexual assault are such important issues for teens and younger adults these days too, so it’s especially appalling that Armentrout did such a poor job addressing them.

  • Both you and Kaja have far greater willpower than I. I totally know I will not read another new series by her I can’t not read to the end of the series. I will inevitably invest time into finishing the series on this which makes me terrible but I need to have resolution on this (I say this now I will probably not even know the last book is released until 5 years afterwards and will feel no urge to read it).

    I know I end up reading terrible books and I do it because I somehow block out all the terribleness of the last book and I realised I’ve done this already because I forgot stuff in my review! I was too busy obsessing over Ivy’s consent issues happening I completely forgot about Ren and the fact he probably got raped by the psycho lady fae and it wasn’t even dealt with. I mean, people could claim it was because we barely Ren until the very end but it doesn’t even matter it wasn’t even mentioned! I feel like rape never got mentioned at all even when Ivy said she had to consent that stupid deal she made was used as her consenting and that just isn’t how sexual consent works!

    Ugh, the more I talk about this book the more I hate it. You need to talk me out of reading the next one. If you even hear me mention it throw something at me please.

    • Dang girl…maybe it’s you who has greater willpower than Kaja and I though, since you’re going to power through what’s sure to be a hot mess in the interests of completing the series! I’m looking forward to your thoughts on it with a kind of morbid glee, haha.

      RIGHT! Wasn’t that just awful?? Hello, just because he’s a dude doesn’t mean that you can leave sexual assault unaddressed. Talk about problematic representation! I actually searched through my kindle edition of the book, and the word “rape” is never used once in the entire book. Not once. Which is astonishing given how frequently the subject was brought up.

      I’ll distract you with other group reads!!! Friends don’t let friends waste their time with problematic books!!

      • I do not have strong willpower I just am a glutton for punishment. Also, I know I will keep wondering what happened at the end so I will inevitably read it. I will write the worst review for you and Kaja to enjoy, don’t worry.

        And how is rape not used in the book once? Even if you choose to ignore what happened to Ren what about the treatment of Ivy? The prince all but wanted to rape her but he seriously wants apocalypse baby to be born so it might hinder his chances.

        And that’s true friendship right there, distracting me away from bad books.

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Ummm… Yeah. Pass. This is worse than the worst book I’ve read this year.

    • Yeah…it’s probably the worst book I’ve read in the last two years actually. Guess what? The only other one that comes to mind was also by Armentrout! Hahaha.

  • *slow clap* I’ve never read any JLA books but this sounds absurd and ridiculous. Reading this put the biggest grin on my face because you never pulled a single punch and it’s absolutely perfect!
    My worst reads for this year has been the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard – HANDS DOWN. I’ve only reviewed Red Queen and was not nearly half as critical as I should have been, while my review for the EVEN WORSE sequel Glass Sword has not yet been published because my guilt for posting such a harsh review transcends needing to review it. AAGH just thinking about it makes me irrationally mad, which makes me even more mad that it’s affected me this much.
    Turning their book covers around in book stores always makes me feel better though. High five for bad books!

  • Lynn Williams

    Oh dear – only 1 star! I would probably just have stopped reading!
    Lynn 😀