Thursday, 30 January 2014

Book Review: The Torturer's Daughter by Zoe Cannon

When her best friend Heather calls in the middle of the night, Becca Dalcourt assumes it's the usual drama. Wrong. Heather's parents have been arrested as dissidents - and Becca's mother, the dystopian regime's most infamous torturer, has already executed them for their crimes against the state.

To stop Heather from getting herself killed trying to prove her parents' innocence, Becca hunts for proof of their guilt. She doesn't expect to find evidence that leaves her questioning everything she thought she knew about the dissidents... and about her mother.

When she risks her life to save a dissident, she learns her mother isn't the only one with secrets - and the plot she uncovers will threaten the lives of the people she loves most. For Becca, it's no longer just a choice between risking execution and ignoring the regime's crimes; she has to decide whose life to save and whose to sacrifice.

It's easy to be a hero when you can save the world, but what about when all you can do is choose how you live in it? THE TORTURER'S DAUGHTER is a story about ordinary life amidst the realities of living under an oppressive regime... and the extraordinary courage it takes to do what's right in a world gone wrong.

My Review:
*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Becca's mother is the top state interrogator and hopes her daughter will also want to work for Internal. But when Becca's best friend Heather begs her to help prove that her parents are not enemies of the State, Becca starts to spy on her mother, suspecting her of arranging false confessions which cause innocent people to be tortured.

Becca is a good character. She is honest and loyal, refusing to believe that Heather and her parents are the enemy, even when the whole school is against them. You can imagine how you would feel if your best friends parents were in this kind of trouble and you would want to help or believe it was all a mistake. Becca's snooping and her unguarded comments to her mother and friends is showing dissident traits which could see her executed if she is reported but she won't abandon her principles for an easier life, even if it is safer. I found Heather to be frustrating and a bit too changable to like but her character again is well written. When Jake comes on the scene, you are never too sure about him or his motivations which adds a bit of interest. The character that interested me the most was Becca's mother as we see different sides to her through the book that I liked. She is afraid of her daughter's behaviour and has to juggle loyalty to her with the demands of her job. She was complex and fun to read about and I think Becca's view of her mother is a bit unfair at times.

The book flows nicely with no big info dumps or pointless descriptions. It is simple and effective character based storytelling which I like to see in a book. I also felt that the length of the book was just right. Adding more to it may have made the book feel too slow and having less would have resulted in missing out on the complex evolving of each character. It is good to see the author get the balance right.

Plot wise, I liked the twists and turns as you are never quite sure what is going to be coming next. It gives you a real idea of what it would be like to live in this suspicious world where everyone is watching you to see that you conform to the government way of thinking. At the same time, the setting for the book is very much like the present day which lets the reader imagine that this could actually happen to them and lets them relate to the characters and their struggles. I like that the characters are flawed and make bad decisions.

Overall this was a good novella/short book for YA and adult fans of dystopian books. No sexual scenes or f bombs every page. 
star rating photo: Three Star Rating 3stars.png


  1. Sounds like it could be a neat movie too. :) Thanks for sharing.

  2. I think it could make a decent film if you get good young actors for it. It certainly keeps you page-turning!