“The sun’s relentless heat had been overwhelming all summer, but it was particularly taxing that morning.”First line in A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden
Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Rebecca Crunden
Published: February 23rd 2017
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Series: The Outlands Pentalogy #1
Buzzwords: Oppressive government, horrible futuristic disease, romance
Synopsis: A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.
A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.
Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.
In a world where hovers and arranged marriages are everyday life, we follow Catherine Taenia who has had the sheltered and safe upbringing that comes from having influential parents. She faces great challenges in this book as she is forced on the run along with Nate Anteros whom she hates with a passion.
The books starts off with a strong introductory chapter that really manages to set the tone as dark and gritty. That is in general a strong-point in this book. It’s a very horrifying world. You get corruption, abuse of power (of the worst kind) and people getting executed for seemingly minor offences. Personally, I find it particularly horrifying that people are kind of forced to have children because their society needs more people. As someone who doesn’t want children, I find that extremely scary. I do see a lot of potential concerning the world building in the next books in the series. It seems like we only just scratched the surface here in book 1.
A conflicting point for me throughout the book were the characters. I liked the main character, Catherine, when I was a part of her thought processes. Her describing her feelings and her doubts were probably my favorite parts of the book. It was so well written that I felt was she what feeling. Also, I always appreciate it when authors spend more time on characters’ emotions than what buildings look like. My problems with the characters came into play through the dialogue. For some reason it felt a little off to me sometimes. Like what a character was saying didn’t exactly fit the tone/mood of the situation and said character. It made it difficult for me to get a feeling of the characters, especially the side characters, whose thoughts I didn’t know. That left me only really caring about Catherine which is a shame.
The book has some high-intense scenes that completely captured me and made me unable to stop reading. I could feel that the stakes were high and I wanted desperately to know what would happen. My only problem was that these scenes were cluttered together at the beginning and at the end of the book. Not saying that a book should be all action from beginning to end but the middle part just felt a little pointless. It became just a tad meandering and I had trouble paying attention.
Overall, I do think A Touch of Death is a good book. I would recommend it to those of you who like more character-driven dystopia that still give you an intriguing plot with moments that will make you hold your breath.