From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–Torn follows Ellie, a 19-year-old British medic, during her first few days in Afghanistan. Her squad is attached to a small troop of American SEALs who must find a hidden cache of arms and learn about a children's army that is fighting both the Western Coalition and the Taliban. Ellie becomes a surrogate big sister to a young prisoner of war and also deals with an intense attraction to the commander of the SEALs. This book covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, which is probably realistic. Teen readers are dropped into the war alongside Ellie, and as she learns to find her feet, they do as well. Massey's writing is clear and down to earth. He conveys the horror of war, but never with gratuitous violence. He creates a solid sense of mood; wartime has intense energy, with almost constant fear and worry, yet there are also moments of calm and peace, and soldiers (and readers) grab onto those moments tightly when they appear. A thread of magical realism meanders through the tale, never enough to take readers out of the story, but enough to make one wonder: Is it the fog of war or something else? This only adds to the appeal of the book. An intriguing mystery and a terrific first novel.–Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Vivid and terrifying action sequences light up this intense page-turner featuring a young British medic, Elinor, assigned to a forward operating base in Afghanistan. As if her oddly hostile tent mate, a weak commanding officer, an ambush on patrol, and an RPG attack on the compound aren’t challenges enough, the arrival of an American SEAL team, led by a disturbingly attractive lieutenant, sends Elinor’s support unit deep into Taliban territory. The mission: to find both a secret arms cache and also a missing journalist and her teenage daughter, Aroush. But Elinor has already seen Aroush, walking unharmed through vicious firefights just before someone dies. Then Aroush disappears—one of several mysteries that ultimately unfold into a tragic, ugly tale involving child warriors, an entire village massacred by drones, and corruption in high places. Displaying the bravado to bill herself the love child of House and Lara Croft, but more than just a standard-issue action hero, Elinor makes a winningly courageous, tough-minded protagonist-narrator who is nonetheless deeply affected by what she sees and experiences. Readers will be, too. (An afterword about children of war not seen.) Grades 7-10. --John Peters