Posted in Book Review

Book Review: A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

“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

My rating:

⭐⭐⭐

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.

Goodreads

Review

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.

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Station Eleven

“The king stood in a pool of blue light, unmoored.”

First line in Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Author: Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.

Review

Hello, people. Hope you’re having a great day. I debated with myself whether I should write this review or not, because it’s not a book I have that many feelings about. I finished it a week ago and I only now feel like I have my thoughts in some kind of order.

I gave Station Eleven 3 stars which means it was alright. Nothing more, nothing less. To give you more of an idea of what is behind those 3 stars, I’ll tell you what I liked and disliked about the book. We’re starting with the negative.

Dislikes

  • Missing Plot

It is a very character-driven story. Not a whole lot of plot in there, which I was waiting for, because it’s a dystopian. The genre just implies that there has to be a maniac who wants to kill or control everyone. Station Eleven is not that kind of dystopian. There was a hint of a plot at some point which got me really excited but it was resolved too quickly and rather effortlessly.  

  • Jumps In Time

This is a personal preference but I don’t enjoy stories that jump around in time. It breaks up the story too much for me. I’ll always prefer to stay in the present and just be told about things of the past. In Station Eleven, we go back and forth a lot so we follow characters both before and after the collapse of civilization. I’d rather just have followed the characters after.

  • The Contemporary Feel

This might sound odd, but this book felt like a contemporary to me. We spend a great deal of time with the characters before the collapse and isolated, those parts feel like an ordinary contemporary. Not that I hate contemporaries but that’s not what I came for, if you know what I mean.

Likes

  • The Writing Style

Mandel has a very pleasant writing style. Even when I wasn’t very interested in the story, she kept me reading because it just felt nice to read. It wasn’t too flowery and had a good flow to it.

  • World Development

I really liked how we were told about the collapse of civilization. It was probably my favorite part of the book because it was sprinkled throughout the entire story. I liked how Mandel really tied it to individual characters so we see it from their point of view instead of it becoming an overarching thing.

  • The Characters

We follow a large group of characters and they are all very well written. None of them are two-dimensional and I liked how Mandel made it clear how flawed they are. Each in their own way. I will say, however, that yes, I liked them, but I didn’t completely love any of them. Some of them, I was even kind of indifferent about but I still enjoyed reading about them.

Overall

I think I went into this book with the wrong expectations and that effected my experience of it. It’s by no means a bad book. I just wanted it to be more than it actually was. It’s a different dystopian than what I’m used to, and to some extent that was actually kind of refreshing. It was nice to see that there are other types of books within the genre than just the Hunger Games kind.

I think a lot of other people would give Station Eleven 5 stars. I would recommend it to those who prefer reading character-driven contemporaries or literary fiction, but don’t mind it when there’s a little twist of something from another genre. It would also be a good book if you’re trying to branch out and want to begin reading some dystopian or science fiction.