Torn Almost Too Sweet to Eat

I finished editing a book in the Book Girl series this week about a goblin who eats books and comments on how they taste. Maybe that’s why I’m seeing literature in flavors right now, and after finishing the second book in Amanda Hocking’s Trylle series, Torn, the overwhelming sensation that’s left over is sweet. Now, taking the story at face value, you wouldn’t think this. Wendy Everly is, after all, a troll princess, and her general demeanor is a bit surly and sarcastic. But after Switched, Wendy finds out that she’s the most wanted person in troll society, and that’s in a good way.

At the end of Switched, Wendy abruptly fled the kingdom of Förening with Rhys, the boy she had been switched with at birth. She takes him back to her original home and introduces him to her brother, who is Rhys’s real sibling. Shortly after, Wendy, her brother Matt, and Rhys are kidnapped by rival troll faction, the Vittra, who crashed Wendy’s christening party in Switched. Wendy learns why she is so important to them—it turns out they’re family. While trapped there, Wendy is introduced to Loki, who can match her in sarcasm and mettle more than Finn, her forbidden love, can. Wendy and crew are saved from the Vittra by Tove, the Trylle with the strongest powers, and others, and Wendy finds herself safely back at Förening with most of the people she loves.

Once there, Wendy comes to a reckoning with her mother, Elora, and even begins to understand her just a little bit. The last time Wendy was there, she was kept in the dark about everything, but now she is gradually being let in on secrets. The biggest thing she learns is that a royal’s life is full of duty. Wendy starts training with Tove, who’s so powerful that he comes across as autistic. (Since he’s so hyperaware of everything, he has to tune himself out or he’ll go crazy.) Wendy also learns that the Trylle’s special powers are their weakness and that she might just be the most powerful ever of the trolls. There’s foreshadowing of this when Tove scares Wendy a few times and says that he felt like she had slapped him in his mind. Sounds like quite the superpower.

Wendy learns that she must make a royal alliance with Tove, though she doesn’t feel that way about him, and for once she agrees to others’ ideas, seeing it as best for her kingdom. Loki drops by enemy territory, seemingly to just see and be near Wendy, and suddenly Finn loses his self-restraint and jumps Wendy. What’s a girl to do? Three months ago Wendy couldn’t get a date, and now she has to beat guys off with a stick. This is all done in a very chaste way, of course, with kisses that ignite the blood and lots of heart thumping, but it does leave a saccharine-sweet aftertaste.

In Amanda Hocking’s blog entries before she gained fame with her Trylle series, she wrote about how she was rejected by agent after agent and was told to make her protagonist Wendy more “likable,” my least favorite piece of advice that’s often bandied about in the writing community. I like a hard-to-love character and find that more true to life. I wonder if J. D. Salinger was ever asked to sweeten up Holden Caulfield, and what would have happened if he’d done it? Sometimes you have to defy convention, and it’s a good thing Hocking did or I think I would have found this novel too sweet to finish. As it is, I’m going to have to find something very dark and depressing to read before I attempt the last novel of the Trylle trilogy, or I’ll go into a sugar coma. I’m sure of it.

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