Author: Dean Murray
Publication: Fir'shan Publishing (October 17, 2011)
Description: Shape shifter Alec Graves has spent nearly a decade trying to keep his family from being drawn into open warfare with a larger pack. The new girl at school shouldn't matter, but the more he gets to know her, the more mysterious she becomes. Worse, she seems to know things she shouldn't about his shadowy world.
Is she an unfortunate victim or bait designed to draw him into a fatal misstep? If she's a victim, then he's running out of time to save her. If she's bait, then his attraction to her will pull him into a fight that'll cost him everything.
My Thoughts: Reading Torn was like immersing myself in a new world. In fact, it felt like there was a whole complex history that I was just getting hints of because it was so familiar to the characters. This world has rival bands of teenage shape shifters who have remarkable powers and who are in a war for dominance. Into the battlefield comes a young woman named Adriana Paige. She immediately becomes a source of conflict between Alec and his rival Brandon. Alec is very suspicious of her at first because she is unusual. Here is what he says:
She glowed. Not just a faint flow of a normal person or the slightly stronger glow of a wolf. She shone with the light of a powerful moon born hybrid, and she didn't belong to my pack, so she was an intruder.But intruder or not Alec is fascinated by her. She even starts appearing in his dreams where they begin to get to know each other. After she stands up for Rachel, Alec's human younger sister, Alec determines that the pack will protect her. All of the pack is not in favor of this because it just escalates the rivalry with Brandon's pack. Alec is torn between wanting to get closer to Adri and knowing he shouldn't both for her safety and for his.
The story is filled with intense emotion as Alec struggles to keep his pack safe from Brandon's. The social dynamics in the story are interesting. Both Alec and Brandon are incredibly wealthy but Alec is the one who controls the town of Sanctuary to to point of bribing (or blackmailing) the mayor and the school principal. Alec lost his father in some unexplained but very traumatic incident that escalated the problems that he is facing now. He has been in charge of the pack for years even though he is only seventeen. There is some conflict regarding the larger community of shape shifters because of Alec's heritage. He feels that the Coun'hij - a governing body of the shape shifters - would support Brandon if it was called in because of this heritage. He does know that the Coun'hij would punish both sides of the conflict if it risked any chance of disclosing the existence of shape shifters to the human population.
A lot of the story revolves around the nature of these shape shifters. Brandon has an advantage because he has manifested a special power that Alec can't match. Alec believes that in any face to face fight with Brandon, he will lose. He is always hoping that his power, whatever it might be, will manifest too. Another special power that the shape shifters have is related to their relationships with humans. Their touch is addictive. The human who becomes addicted to a shape shifter's touch can't survive without it. Alec knows this first hand because his mother is human. While she survived his father's death, she is living in the past and constantly cycling through emotions. She doesn't often even recognize that Rachel is her child or, if she does, she treats her badly. She is an object lesson for him about the dangers of loving a human.
This story was told from Alec's point of view and really emphasized his own struggle with his shape shifter nature. He even calls himself a monster and has to keep a tight control over his emotions and his actions. When I found out that Dean Murray had written a companion novel - Broken - which tells the story from Adri's point of view, I knew that I had to read it too to get the rest of the story.
This was an emotional and intense read with lots of fighting and violence. Alec is under tremendous amounts of stress trying to solve all of the problems on his shoulders but through it all he is honorable, protective, and caring to those under his care. I recommend it for older young adults because of the level of violence.
"We're where the legends of succubi originated. Irresistible demons who drain their victims dry, who leave their lovers a hollow shell of what they were before. Do you understand now? My getting closer to you is the ultimate form of self-gratification. It's the worst possible thing I could do to you. If you somehow survive everything that's about to happen, it would leave you forever hungering for another touch, but never able to fulfill that desire."I was approached by the author to review this book. I bought my copy at Amazon. It is available there or at Smashwords.