A Touch of Death (The Outlands #1) by Rebecca Crunden
Read: 25th – 30th November 2019
Publication Date: 23rd February 2017
Quote from A Touch of Death:
“‘Yes darling, there’s food if you can sit upright and swear to me you won’t get sick in this car. There is one thing that you should know about me: I am a sympathy vomiter and it is in both our best interests that we do not trigger such horrors.” He [Nate] glanced over at her [Catherine], his face pale and perspired.’
My Overall Rating: 3/5
Plot: 4/5 – Flow: 3/5 – Character Development: 2/5 – World Building: 2/5
A Touch of Death is the first novel (approx 300 pages) in Ms Crunden’s dystopian science fiction series.
If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know that I write about how the story was told rather than the plot itself, which means that my reviews don’t contain spoilers of any kind or reveal any plot twists, so here’s what the official blurb has to say about the story:
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.
So, before we get into what I thought about this book, I want you to know that I was given a digital version of this book for free from the author (Rebecca Crunden) in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review or influence my thoughts; these are my words, I’m giving you my honest opinion here.
Rebecca Crunden is a new-to-me author and, after reading the blurb for this book, I was excited to put my reluctance aside and give this dystopian sci-fi novel a try.
I was intrigued with the various social groups that we met along the way; the differences between the classes and their outlooks on life. I loved that not everyone in this futuristic world was intolerant, cutthroat or full of prejudice and that there were pockets of hope and kindness.
I loved the main male protagonist, Nathaniel Anteros – a.k.a. Nate – he’s my kind of hero; intelligent, passionate, resilient, self-reliant, loyal and definitely someone you want on your side in a fight.
I was never sure how this story was going to end or quite what would happen next and I enjoyed being surprised on a few occasions at the twists that Ms Crunden snuck into the plot.
By the end of the book, I didn’t want it to end. Yes, I shed a tear or two during the more emotional scenes, and I definitely felt my heart pumping in indignation at the prejudice and brutality. Although A Touch of Death didn’t make me laugh, there were a few scenes towards the end that brought a smile to my face and my romantic heart rejoiced in the glimmers of hope and true love that were hidden amongst the horrors of this dystopian world.
As many of you already know, dystopian sci-fi is not my preferred reading genre as the horrors and injustices that litter this genre saddens me to my core. I’m aware that, as a species, all humans have the capacity for abject evil: I just don’t want to read about it in my free time. 😉
But setting aside my struggle with the dystopian genre in general, there were a few aspects that, sadly didn’t work for me: the pace for half of this book, the world building and the female protagonist.
The opening prologue aside, this story is very much a slow burn until well over half way through. I have to admit that, although I don’t need continual fast, paced action to hold my interest, I struggled with the pace that this adventure progressed at.
The world-building raised more questions than answers for me and although I understand a first-in-series has to set everything up, I was frequently at a loss in the narrative as well as confused with the some of this world’s language used: I found myself doing quite a bit of re-reading to try to get my head around things.
I really struggled to like Catherine, the female lead in this book, as she didn’t exhibit ANY of the personality traits that I look for: intelligence, resilience, self-reliance and gumption. There are glimmers of hope that she will develop in subsequent books, however, my feelings towards Catherine in this book didn’t warm up at all.
Despite the slow start, I thought that this story was good. It had most of the traits that I need to keep me reading: an intriguing plot, an engaging mystery and characters that bring out different emotions in me.
Due to the graphic violence and brutality present in this book, I would recommend A Touch of Death to fans of dystopian science fiction who are not offended by content of this nature and enjoy coming-of-age stories about injustice and prejudice with a slow burning romance played out in the background.
I hope that my review of A TOUCH OF DEATH (THE OUTLANDS PENTALOGY #1) will encourage you to find out more? Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself or to find out more about the author.
(I am part of Amazon , The Book Depository, Foyles Book Shop, Audible and Waterstones affiliate programmes, which means when you use those links to buy a copy of this book, I will get a (very) small % from the sale.)
Rebecca is a twenty-something student, writer and lover of fantasy, science-fiction and paranormal genres.
Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to read my review. I hope that my review has tempted you to add this book to your ever growing TBR pile. 😉