Better than FALLEN but still disappointing
In Lauren Kate's Torment, Luce is sent to an exclusive Nephilim boarding school on the California coast in order to protect her from the Outcasts. While there, Daniel is off making his own plans to protect her and employing some unlikely allies in the process. When Daniel continues to keep answers from Luce, she begins to utilize what she's learned at the school to figure out how to use the Shadows to see into her past lives. As she does so, Luce learns more about her history and how much Daniel may have been keeping from her.
After a disappointing experience with Fallen, I decided to give author Lauren Kate another chance. While TORMENT was a bit better, I finished feeling frustrated again. Contradictions in description, mythology, and characters' actions repeatedly pulled me out of the story, and obvious plot holes elicited the same reaction. Extremely slow pacing also dragged down the first two-thirds of the book, and the writing continued as only average with some cliché moments of dialogue. While a bit more was revealed plot-wise in this installment, I finished with no greater understanding of the larger conflict or the players involved. The villain was also easily identifiable, and the angels came across as either ineffective or over the top in their skills. Character-wise, Daniel became even more unlikable, controlling, and dismissive - even while still being presented as the desirable, main love interest. Finally, while I greatly appreciated Luce's awareness of the unhealthy nature of her relationship with Daniel and Kate's depiction of a healthy alternative, I'm left unsure as to the purpose of this subplot. It remains obvious that Luce and Daniel are "fated" to be together and that no amount of self-awareness, reflection, or experience with healthy relationships will change that.
I did find TORMENT to be a better read than FALLEN, though. This installment introduced new, likable characters like Miles and Shelby, and Luce was granted a great deal more agency and resolve, especially regarding looking into her past lives and in questioning her relationship with Daniel. As noted, the novel's self-awareness of the unhealthy nature of Daniel and Luce's relationship was confusing as to its purpose, but I'm at least glad that it was included at all. While the mythology remained underdeveloped, some of it was expanded and explained, especially regarding the shadows and their purpose. Small reveals or hints regarding the forthcoming final showdown, Daniel and Luce's involvement in it, and Luce's possibly more-than-mortal status also made me feel like the author was willing to share more of the story's secrets with us this time.
Though much more about the history between Luce and Daniel will likely be revealed in the sequel, Passion, I've found that I haven't fallen for their story or the tormented past at which it hints. I hope that future installments bring fewer contradictions and an expanded and defined mythology, along with some romantic interactions actually worth swooning over.