The Torturer’s Daughter by Zoe Cannon

The Torturer’s Daughter by Zoe Cannon
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Full Length (272 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

When her best friend Heather calls in the middle of the night, Becca 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 teenage 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.

Some truths are harder to learn than others, but finding out that her mother not only tortures and kills any who disagree with the dystopian oppressive regime but also falsifies information so that innocent people are killed as well, puts Becca in an untenable position where she has to make incredibly difficult decisions about life and death.

Zoe Cannon has written a spine-tingling story about a future society that I hope never comes to pass. Becca, an ordinary teenager, is suddenly caught up in web of lies and deceit. Cannon’s descriptions of the environment are extremely believable, and her characters are life-like and fully developed. Becca knows what is right and she knows what she must do, but she experiences very real fears. While she calls herself a coward a number of times, I really think that her readers would find her to be most intelligent and courageous.

The life of high school teens is shown realistically, with all the cliques as well as the typical follow-the-crowd mentality. Becca demonstrates real courage when she stands apart from that behavior. She tries to stand by her friends even when that is neither a popular nor safe move. In a society where everyone is watched and the slightest deviation can land someone in the torturer’s grasp, following her conscience is not an easy task. Cannon really makes life under oppression very realistic and believable.

And while the actions of Becca’s mother are in no way condoned, Cannon shows Becca’s mother to be a fully developed multi-dimensional character, and not a cardboard evil character. It would be easier for Becca to make the decisions she must make if her mother had no redeeming qualities, but Cannon doesn’t make the mistake of taking that path.

This novel is incredibly engaging, fast-paced with well-developed characters and a suspenseful plot. I read this book in one sitting because it is hard to put down. I recommend it to any fans of dystopian science fiction, and I look forward to future books by this author.

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