The Torturer’s Daughter by Zoe Cannon

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Actual Rating: 2.5


Honestly, I’m very disappointed. I had been looking forward to reading this book because I thought that the plot sounded really interesting – and it would have been, if it weren’t for the main character, who was just so, so, so, so, so annoying and dislikeable.

But let’s start from the very beginning.
This story takes place in a dystopian society where anyone who dares to express an opinion that does not conform to society are tracked down to prevent an uprising. These people are arrested and murdered by none other than that mother of Becca, the main character.

One day, Becca gets a call from her friend Heather. Heather’s parents have been arrested as dissidents, and she needs Becca’s help. As the story proceeds, Becca gets drawn deeper and deeper into the secrets behind their dystopian regime; along the way, a boy named Jake gets involved with Becca’s story.

And here is when it really started to go down. In my opinion, the first few chapters were tolerable (not interesting, but tolerable). But when Jake and Becca had more interactions, everything simply spiralled downwards – mainly because of Becca’s attitude.

Becca is paranoid. So paranoid and fearful of the fact that Jake was a spy, that it was the only thought on her mind. ALL. THE. TIME.

FOR EXAMPLE, in Becca’s mind:
Jake asks about Heather – Jake is a spy for Infernal.
Jake lies about his parents – Jake is trying to hide his past BECAUSE he is a spy!
JAKE STANDS UP FOR HEATHER – JAKE IS STILL A SPY AND BECCA THINKS IT IS ALL AN ACT.
Jake asks her out on a date – Jake is trying to get close to her for information!

EVERYTHING Jake does apparently “proves” that he is a spy – and Becca’s constant repetition and circular thinking gets annoying very quickly.

What was even worse, was Becca’s self-pitying attitude – which might have been Zoe Cannon’s attempt to make her sound humble.

Maybe a boy really did like her instead of Heather for once, and she had screwed up her chances with him by accusing him of being a spy […] When most guys saw her and Heather together, they really only saw Heather.

Wow, Becca, your life must be so hard. I’m so sorry.

And this one –

His smile snapped on like he had flipped a switch. Right, To make Becca less suspicious. She wished it didn’t make sense, but it did.
Unless she was just being paranoid because she didn’t know to deal with the idea that a guy might actually like her.

We get it, Becca. You’re unlikeable – what a shocker.

OKAY, OKAY, OKAY. I’m done ranting about Becca’s personality.

Another thing that really annoyed me about this book was Becca’s interactions with Heather, which was basically the same thing over and over and over and over…
Here are the steps:
1. Becca finds out something and wants to talk to Heather about it.
2. Heather gets angry because she doesn’t want to talk.
3. Becca is sad.

I am so tired of reading this same situation multiple times – it just felt like the story wasn’t going anywhere. Throughout the entire book, it felt like the author tried so hard to make it suspenseful so that the audience would be blown away when she revealed things, bit by bit. But everything was just too predictable.

“[…] I asked about all surveillance on Heather.” She hesitated.
“And?”
“There is no surveillance on Heather.”

Not really. Points for trying, though. But sorry, we already knew that Becca was overreacting.

Moving on, the relationship between Becca and Heather, as well as Becca and Jake, was simply so full of imbalances that irritated me to no end. Becca made many questionable decisions, and yet she continued to justify them, trying to be the one that was right – and surprise surprise, Jake and Heather always apologized at the end.

And the next thing (at this point I’m realizing that the main thing that made this story two stars was Becca herself) was the one line that jumped out to me near the 3/4 mark of the book, as Becca thinks about Jake –

“There hadn’t been another kiss since she had watched Anna die two days ago.

Huh. Let’s read that again.

“There hadn’t been another kiss since she had watched Anna die two days ago.

 

Yes ma’am/sir. You’ve read that correctly. Becca’s friend died two days ago (sidenote: it was Becca’s fault), but what’s on Becca’s mind isn’t that death (Oh no, how preposterous!), it’s the kiss she had with Jake – the boy who she’s just gotten to know. How adorable.

Sigh.
And lastly, I guess I just didn’t like the way the atmosphere was portrayed. It felt like a serious dystopian, complete with betrayal and murder, but the story I got was a weak love story involving a boy with a tragic past and a girl who was simply too blind to see how ABSOLUTELY PERFECT AND BEAUTIFUL AND STRONG AND COURAGEOUS she was.

The plot summary had some really neat ideas, and I’m sad to say that the book definitely did not meet my expectations, and I won’t be reading the next book and finishing the series.

I mean, how could I find the willpower and the time to, when I have 460 more promising books on my to-read shelf?


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