This review also posted at A Bookish Compulsion's Home Blog
When I started this book I was expecting an Indiana Jones type adventure with some mysterious twists. By the time I had gotten a third of the way through it was clear that my initial assumption was pretty far off base but left me unsure as to whether that was a good or bad thing. At the half-way mark I decided it was good, and now having read the whole thing the only summery I can come up with is “WTF did I just read?”.
I think that overall I liked Torrent. It was engaging and certainly not slow; the characters where well drawn and the world, while filled with quite a bit of contradiction, was interesting. That said, it came off a little flat and far too convoluted for me to really have any kind of rapport with the characters or story other than I may have liked it.
The characters in Torrent, while well detailed, were difficult for me to connect to as they never seemed to be deeper than the page. Perhaps it was that lack of emotion (the interaction was supposed to give depth was done on an intellectual level, which only goes so far in getting inside a character) or the inconsistency of physical factors having an effect or even the illogical and ever-shifting motivations, but while I could clearly picture the characters I wasn’t really all that interested in them.
The plot is a whole other issue. I had no clue most of the time where this story was going, but not in a “gosh I never expected that,” or an “I wonder what will happen next,” way. More of an “is this going somewhere or is the author just lost,” and a “you have got to me kidding me” kind of way. So much was stuffed into this story, and while some of it was somewhat explained, most of it is left at very ragged loose ends after having run around in circles for a good deal of the page count. That this was meant to be the start of a series became painfully clear at the end, but truly it read more like a pitch for a series than a well thought-out beginning.
With all of that said, I still enjoyed reading Torrent. It kept me guessing and theorizing until the very end and if some characters and plot points felt a little shoved into place they at least found a place and a point by the end.