- Title: A Touch of Death
- Author: Rebecca Crunden
- Series: The Outlands Pentalogy
- Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic
- Publishing Date: February 23rd, 2017
- Length: 305 pages
- Format: Kindle, Paperback
- Acquired: Given free print version in exchange for an honest review
- Amazon Link: A Touch of Death
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.
First Chapter Challenge:
With the chapters being exceptionally long, I will give my first thoughts on the first 30 or so pages, including the introduction.
I can already tell that the characters each have rich backstories and unique idiosyncrasies. I am also content with the interpersonal relationships between the characters, as they appear to be authentic and already rich with possibility for conflict. The world itself is a bit confusing, but I expect to learn much more about it as I continue reading. I am already intrigued in what forced Nate to become imprisoned, as well as how he is out and about on his own, now! And how does Catherine fit into this?
Final Judgment: 4.5 Stars out of 5
When a hike through the mountains goes wrong, Catherine and her SO’s brother Nate find themselves in a world of trouble. Both are children of some of the richest and most influential families in their nation, but even that may not save them when they acquire a strange burning disease that may threaten the wellbeing of the rest of the citizens. Nate, a known rebel and ex-convict, believes that their only chance to survive is to flee their country and reach a place where their King has no control. But in order to reach that place, they must sneak through the entire country, not to mention survive the horrible creatures defined as mutants and rabids. Will they be able to find peace? Or will they die trying?
The plot was fantastic! I read this entire book in one night because I had to know what was coming next. There is never a dull moment, but rather each scene and event builds upon the last until the finale of the ending is almost too much for a heart to bear at once. And it is unfinished. I cannot wait until I get the second book to find out what happens next!
Despite being set in a futuristic, dystopian world, I could believe that I was actually there with the characters. The realism of the relationships and the troubles that they faced, as well as how they were able to overcome many of the obstacles enhanced the reading greatly. The characters and their world was tangible.
The magic/science is unique. The concerning affliction that befalls Catherine and Nate is perfect for this story. It serves to further the plot and relationships, but not in an artificial way–it all feels natural as if someone in our own world may stumble upon something similar (perhaps in the form of radioactive waste?). I am excited to continue the series to see what other scientific discoveries may be made!
I am a sucker for romance, and the gently building relationship between two of the main characters left me practically swooning by the end. The romantic element was neither too trope-y, nor too stagnant. It was almost just right, keeping me on the edge of my seat and always waiting for that next step. However, my one issue with the romance was Nate’s own admission, too early on in the game. It seemed forced and too easy. I would have preferred that he had never said anything.
The writing was easy to follow, except for some transitions. Sometimes one scene would blend into another, not making it obvious what had just transpired or how the characters moved from one to the other. Many times, the characters would randomly change direction with no warning or gesture towards the reader. It was a bit disconcerting at times.
The worldbuilding in the beginning was lacking. It was difficult to understand just what exactly separated this world from our own and what rules it operated under. I was left confused and trying to figure out the world up until the end of the novel. Nate’s mother is described as the King’s “Favourite,” but then so is Catherine’s father. Mutants and rabids are supposedly everywhere and dangerous, but we do not see much of them at all. Some activities, such as walking a road are illegal, and yet people do it and are never punished. To unfamiliar eyes, the world seems to be full of inconsistencies. I cannot determine just yet whether this is a flaw in the writing, or if I simply do not understand the world just yet.
Overall, this was an amazing read, as can be evidenced by the fact that I finished it in one night. As soon as I hit the back cover, I hopped on my computer to find where I could read the second in the series. Safe to say that I will most certainly be continuing the journey!