Book Review: The Torturer’s Daughter (Internal Defense #1) by Zoe Cannon

Title: The Torturer’s Daughter (Internal Defense #1)

Author: Zoe Cannon

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Published: 22 October 2012

Format: E-book, 274 pages

Synopsis: “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 sh

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.” (Taken from Goodreads)

– – – –

Becca Dalcourt believes she lives in a world where the government knows best. They’ve removed all the previous evils from the world, and their citizens are enjoying a new life under the safety of their wing. Or so she thinks…until her best friend Heather calls her from 117 in the middle of the night, crying as she tells Becca that Internal had arrested her parents for dissident activity. At first, she believes they’d made a mistake until she finds out they’ve been executed…by her own mother.

This has been a whirlwind adventure that saw me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next. I thought I was so smart, having figured the plot twists out as I moved through the chapters, but Ms Cannon just laughs at me whilst she turns the story in a completely different direction. Becca, while weak in some areas, is an extremely well-drawn out character that is both smart and believable. She has smart instincts and is loyal to a tee, even as her world tips upside down. Her weak areas can’t even be considered weak in my eyes, because to even get to that predicament, she had gone through a series of events that would have torn myself apart if I had been in her shoes.

117 is the processing centre in Becca’s town that finds dissidents and processes them for information. And by ‘processing’ I really mean torturing. Torture is a topic that makes me feel nauseas, and I’m glad Cannon doesn’t go into detail with it. We find out early on that Becca’s mum is 117’s most infamous processor, having made the centre the best one in their new world. Her job is to process all dissidents and execute them for going against the government. At this point, you may think that this woman is a cruel abomination and she deserves hate directed towards her at all costs, but I can’t seem to find any will to hate her. She believes wholeheartedly that what she’s doing is beneficial to the society, and to go against it would be to throw away her own principles. This woman had lost almost everything because of her job, and because she believed what she’s doing is right.

“Living by your principles will always be the harder path. But you have to do it anyway. You have to do what’s right no matter how hard it gets, or one day you’ll find out you’ve become somebody you can’t live with.”

“I will not be someone who abandons my principles as soon as they become inconvenient. I will not be someone who says that certain things have to be done… as long as somebody else does them.”

– Raleigh Dalcourt, The Torturer’s Daughter

This woman is fierce I tell you, and her unwaveringly love and trust in her daughter shows that she’s not as cold-hearted as you may think. However, Becca’s world is tipped upside down when she learns that potential innocents are being executed because of her mum – for most of the novel, we see her struggling with this as she comes to terms with the fact that the hands that sooth her during bad times was stained with blood.

Once again, I must reiterate how strong of a character Becca is. Even after everything she’s been through, she understands that her mum is right in some ways – that in order to live with yourself, you have to make hard decisions. At the end of the day, you have to be able to live with your choices. That is why the last plot twist at the end didn’t shock me as much as it should have. I knew what Becca was going to do, even though it would have killed her to do it. I can’t praise Cannon enough for creating a character that is so strong, and can stand on her own two feet. I can honestly say that Becca is one of my top ten favourite heroines of all time.

While I loved this book a lot, I’m unable to give it 5/5 stars mainly because of the world building. While the plot and characters are superb, I kept wondering about the background to this new world and how it came about. I was waiting and waiting for Cannon to give us some history to this place that mirrored our own world but was also different in many ways. I feel like learning its history could have opened up the readers’ eyes on why it was so important for everyone to believe in the government. And who is this government anyway? We keep hearing about how it’s made the world better, but better how? What exactly do they do and why is it so wrong to speak against them? How did they get so much power?

I really hope this can be included in the next book in the series (Necessary Sacrifices), which comes out on 15 July 2013! That is extremely soon!

An electronic copy had been provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. 

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