Massey, David. Torn.
30 July 2013, Chicken House
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Elinor is a British medic new to her post in Afghanistan. She has a difficult bunk mate, Heidi, who is very resentful of her presence, and goofy cohorts who get off on the wrong foot with her by watching her shower. The group pulls together when they take a young boy, Husna, whose entire village was destroyed, with the exception of some children, who have formed the Young Martyrs group that is intent on killing adults on any side of the conflict. Husna maintains that Americans bombed his village, and a contingent sets out to investigate. While there, they find that the journalist daughter of the general in charge of the whole operation was married to an Afghani and most likely perished in the bombing, although her step son and daughter, Aroush, have survived. Aroush seems to show up any time someone is about to die, but Elinor is not convinced she is a ghost. Elinor takes a shine to Ben, an American Special Ops soldier that is on the same mission, but realizes that forming attachments while serving can be too distracting. The group manages to uncover the journalist’s papers as well as a Taliban plot, and barely make it back to base in one piece.
Strengths: It is possible to write to write a realistic book about war without a lot of curse words. Bravo. This didn’t pull any punches—there are several members of the unit that die, and Elinor is affected by their deaths. The danger is not downplayed at all, but it was interesting to me that there was so much danger even when the unit wasn’t actively fighting—they were just patrolling the area. The tie in with the general’s daughter being a journalist but living in a remote village was a nice touch.
Weaknesses: The decorations at the beginning of each chapter (poppies) slowed the load time on this down considerably and crashed my Nook. Again, e versions of books should take this into consideration. As for the story, I have no quibbles as all. Excellent stuff, to pair with Reedy’s Out of the Dust and the few other titles that are out there about Afghanistan.