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Review: A Touch of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy #1) by Rebecca Crunden

Hello fellow bookworms. Today, I’m sharing my thoughts about A Touch of Death (The Outlands #1) by Rebecca Crunden

Read: 25th – 30th November 2019

Publication Date: 23rd February 2017

My Overall Rating: 3/5

Plot: 4/5 – Flow: 3/5 – Character Development: 2/5 – World Building: 2/5

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.’

A Touch of Death is the first novel (approx 300 pages) in Ms Crunden’s dystopian science fiction series.

I focus my reviews on how the story was told rather than the plot itself. I’m looking at the author’s writing style, how they paced their plots and how well they constructed their characters and setting. Therefore, my reviews don’t contain spoilers or reveal plot twists.

Here’s what the official blurb has to say about the story.

The 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.

ARC Disclosure:

graphic for ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

I was given an unedited digital version of this book (eARC) for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence or affect this review. This is my candid opinion about the writing style and story.

Rebecca Crunden is a new-to-me author. 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. 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. 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. A Touch of Death didn’t make me laugh. However, there were a few scenes towards the end that brought a smile to my face. Plus, 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. 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. 😉

However, 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.

I understand a first-in-series has to set everything up. However, 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.

Catherine is the female lead in this book. 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.

Content Warning:

This book has graphic violence and explicit sex as well as some darker themes. Therefore, I’d only recommend this book to adults who are OK reading material of this nature.

I’d recommend A Touch of Death to fans of dystopian science fiction books. Especially those who 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? Click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself. Keep reading to find out more about the author.

Buy A TOUCH OF DEATH in print and ebook formats through the usual sources, including:

Amazon UK ¦ Amazon US ¦ The Book Depository

Affiliate Disclosure:

I’m part of various affiliate programmes to help with the costs of running a self-hosted bog. Consequently, when you use my links to buy a book, I’ll get a (very) small % from the sale.

Click HERE to read my full disclosure statement.

Title Header - About The Author

Rebecca is a twenty-something student, writer and lover of fantasy, science-fiction and paranormal genres.

Visit Rebecca‘s own little corner of the web or connect via Twitter  

signature graphic. Happy reading from flora image sitting on books

Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to read my thoughts about A Touch of Death. I really appreciate it. Although this wasn’t my cup of tea, I hope I’ve tempted you to check it out. 😉

Flora x

2020 Update: This book was one of the nominees in the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (2020)

About Author

I'm in my late forties, my interests are varied but since menopause hit a few years ago, I find myself becoming a "grumpy old woman" all too frequently - where has my infinite patience gone!?! Lol!
I bought a Kindle in the summer of 2013 and haven't stopped reading since. If you want to know more about me, check out my blog - www.florasmusings.com

(0) Comments

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  2. jeneaw41 says:

    This is a new one to me. I like the sounds Nate Catherine, hopefully she’s grows a little more on you in the next book. Great review.

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