by Andrea Lynn Colt
published September 10, 2012
Goodreads/Author website/Amazon/Barnes & Noble/First chapter sample/Second chapter
Rose Whitfield's senior year just went up in smoke. Instead of having a blast with her best friend, her cheerleading squad, and her boyfriend Ryan, she's framed for arson. Popularity and criminal records don't mix, apparently.
Luckily, Rose knows who's framing her: Paxton Callaway. Paxton and Rose have spent years locked in a war of practical jokes. This time he's gone too far. Rose sets out to prove her innocence, win Ryan back, and take Paxton down hard.
Not necessarily in that order.
This book is one of the best books that I had never heard of before. I have been in a reading slump with everything I picked up being somewhat of a let down. When this book showed up for review I grabbed it. It looked both interesting and different than what I had been reading. I am so glad that I did, let's just say that the slump is over.
This well written book takes place in the world of high school. It has a bit of a Mean Girls (the movie) feel to it. We are taken into the world of Rose, who starts the book at the top of the high school social pyramid. After being framed for arson she loses her boyfriend, her best friend and her social status all in an instant. She also loses her future since getting into the college of her dreams is going to be impossible with a criminal record. Forced to take a hard look at her life and choices, Rose is shocked to discover that maybe what happened is a bit of Karma. Left with seemingly no one on her side she is surprised to find who ends up supporting her.
My favorite aspect of this book is how well all of the characters and many relationships are crafted. If any of you have read my reviews before, you know I am a sucker for well written characters. In this book every character is realistic throughout the story. The teen years are a time when we all tend to be at least somewhat egocentric. We view our actions and everyone around us with this filter. It is great to be in Rose's head as her view point is expanded and she begins to see how her actions have affected others. I also detected a subliminal message that I am not sure was intentional by the author but I loved never the less. That message is that there is a double standard about what males and females can get away with and how the same behavior is reacted to differently. The years of back and forth pranks between Rose and her nemesis Paxton have inadvertently hit some innocent bystanders. Because Paxton is a (now) very attractive and popular male his mistakes have been more easily forgiven than those by an attractive, popular female. I am glad that the contradictory reactions were at least lightly touched upon.
All of the characters are flawed and genuine. Each struggles to some degree with self-involvement or the inability to see things through another's eyes. Whether a character is a victim or perpetrator, everyone is fleshed out in shades of grey which ground this story in authenticity, even when the events border on extreme. While Rose's eyes are opened and she begins to grow as a person she still makes mistakes and we watch her struggle not to regress into her former selfish behavior. She grapples with her distant relationship with her parents along with the changing dynamics in her other relationships. I appreciated that there are no miraculous changes or easy answers. Sometimes people disappoint you and will continue to do so no matter how much you try to address it. Some mistakes are not easily forgiven no matter how bad you feel.
The pacing of this story is fantastic. This story grabs you so that you can't put it down. Between the mystery of who really started the fire, the conflict Rose feels about her ex-boyfriend, ex-bestfriend and the confusion regarding new and renewed people in her life we are left anxiously hanging onto the edge of our seats, just like Rose. There are many twists and turns to this story and even though you might have suspicions, you won't be able to guess everywhere this story will go.
I could seriously talk on and on about Torched but then this review would devolve into a book discussion rather than a review. Let me just say that I highly recommend this book. I am definitely going to keep and eye on this author. She is really talented and I hope you will at least check out the links at the top to the first two chapters. If you read this book and enjoy it as much as I have help me spread the word.