Sunday, September 19, 2010

Review: Tortured by V.J. Chambers

**spoiler alert** (May contain spoilers)
In the third Jason and Azazel installment, their connection deepens as their world gets darker and more violent. Like, incredibly violent. And incredible deep. Jason and even Azazel descend into depths of violence and darkness that make me pretty sure they are indeed Chaos and/or the Devil incarnate. However, this is not the most disturbing part. The most disturbing part?

I liked them anyway.

That's right. I said it. I liked- no, loved- them anyway, and rooted for them the entire way. I wanted them to succeed. I wanted them to successfully mass slaughter entire buildings. (OK, arguably, these guys deserve it.) Azazel thinks the same thing about Jason at one point in the series. It may be in Book Two. Her brothers make her watch hours of videotape of Jason, smiling, during killing spree after killing spree, and she decides it doesn't matter. She'll love him no matter what he's done, or who he is, or who he's done it with. And he feels the same about her. Gut twisting, but masterfully so.

By the third book, we're pretty deep into the whole Sons of the Sun and the Satanists or the Rabbits or Chaos conspiracies. Oh, and you have to love it when the Catholic Church gets involved, as well as a couple of very fringe cults for good measure. And then Chambers throws in the coming Mayan Apocalypse. Conspiracy fans and Apocalypse nuts will *love* this. Part of me thinks this is foreshadowing for a future series, but fans be warned: she lays it on pretty heavy here with the conspiracy stuff. I needed a score card at times. But then, I think that's part of her point: when people start fighting over good v. evil, it all devolves into a game of deadly ridiculousness at some point. In Jason and Azazel's case, extremely deadly ridiculousness.
Because, as Azazel so insightfully points out, anything can be justified once your opponent is "evil." 

The novel is not without its moments of tenderness, humor, teenage angst, and romance. In typical Chambers style, she does not back down from the tough subjects. Safe, healthy teenage sexuality is unflinchingly examined as two characters have to deal with the consequences of uninformed, and therefore unsafe, sex. Jason and Azazel struggle with intimacy. There is something so real in the way it is easier for Azazel to kill someone than to tell Jason he isn't satisfying her sexually. And the way she manages to sit through a group self-help session (or perhaps intervention) on the female orgasm is perhaps the bravest thing she does in the entire series. Such things are not easily discussed, yet Chambers does so with humor and grace. If only one of her readers learns from Azazel's experiences, then Chambers has done the world a huge service and deserves a medal.


  1. My google alert picked this up today. Wow. Thanks, so much for the wonderful reviews.

    I'm speechless. :)

  2. Um, wow. I can't believe you found my blog. I've been waiting to go more public with this blog until I get closer to launching my own indie series this Halloween. Sort of getting my feet wet, I suppose. I think you may be my first commenter? An honor for me. But your series is *GREAT*, and I plan to plaster the web with some version of this review and of your first two books in the series. You are a really great writer and an example of indie writing at its finest. We need more like you and like Jason and Azazel. Can't wait to read more of your stuff. Oh, and I'm hoping to get a fan book trailer in to your contest if it's not too late.

  3. It's not too late!

    Definitely let me know when you launch. I'm interested in seeing your writing too.