Private Elinor Nielson joins the British army as a medic and is sent to
Afghanistan for her first active tour of duty.
She immediately earns the nickname, “Buffy”, due to being spied on while
in the shower. She is also having a hard
time getting long with her roommate, Corporal Heidi Larson, also a medic, who seems to have a chip on her shoulder.
keeps having encounters with a mysterious teenage girl, who seems to appear
whenever there is death nearby. The
British unit captures a young boy, and Ellie is chosen to interrogate him. She wins his trust and, in the process,
learns that Husna is part of a group of children called the “Young Martyrs” who
are fighting both coalition and Taliban forces.
He says that the reason the children are fighting is because his entire
village was wiped out by American drones.
SEALs under the leadership of twenty-three-year-old Ben Jackson take up camp
with the British unit. They are assigned
to locate a journalist who married an Afghani and who may or may not be
alive. Additionally, they are charged
with finding the Afghani’s daughter, who is the granddaughter of the commanding
American general. They must also
retrieve a cache of arms located somewhere in the vicinity. Ellie and Ben are attracted to one another but
must hide their feelings and concentrate on their immediate duties.
British, the Americans, and Hammed, the local Afghan policeman, work together to
solve two mysteries and find the arms cache using the notes of Bella Macallum,
the journalist. They solve the riddle
involving the Afghan interior minister, who is also a Taliban warlord, his
elite renegade security forces, American drones, and a lithium mine. The appearance of the teenage Afghan girl in
the blue dress is also resolved.
Torn is a terrific debut novel by David
Massey. The reconnaissance missions and
battle scenes are taut and full of tension and suspense. It is refreshing to read a war novel that,
surprisingly, contains no cursing!
author his done his research on the Afghanistan culture, weaponry, and military
life. Reading the novel made me feel
like I was actually in the country, seeing what was going on through the
characters’ eyes. Massey’s passages are
extremely descriptive, and the mysteries in the plot really moved the story
along. Husna is my favorite character—he
is tough and worldly for a young boy, but softens as Ellie begins to earn his
trust. Ellie is steady, but vulnerable,
fearing that she may hold the life of her unit in her hand on their daily hikes
to see the local citizens. Ben is wiser
beyond his twenty-three years and is a natural-born leader.
Torn will appeal to fans of war novels and
of other genres, as well. I highly
recommend it to upper middle school, high school, and public libraries. I give it five out of five fleur de lis!
**Reviewer's Note: The copy reviewed was provided by Library Media Connection in exchange for an honest review.