A Touch of Death (Book Review)
by Rebecca Crunden
4.5 / 5
Dystopian Science Fiction
Thank you so much to the author for reaching out to me and offering me a copy in exchange for a fair review.
A Touch of Death is an elegantly crafted, detailed, and realistic dystopian novel that is consistent in its tone, characters, and prose. I very much enjoyed it.
The story follows Kitty and Nate, brother and sister-in-law who go on the run when they are infected by a mysterious disease that the totalitarian government wants to be kept under wraps. The story follows their journey through the far-future and post-post-apocalyptic dystopian world.
The novel is a slow burn adventure that manages to give equal attention to action and twists as to character development. After a fantastic and tone-setting prologue, the bulk of the story does move a little slow, but patience is rewarded by a novel that sinks its hooks into you. By the end, I was staying up far too late at night reading it.
Where the novel really excels is showing how totalitarian regimes use fear to instill compliance in the population. Even Kitty, who is the daughter of top diplomats, really has no control over her life. This is executed in a way that doesn’t feel heavy-handed or with an exposition dump. We’re given examples of the state of the world as the characters move through it, as well as hints to how the world became this way. This aspect was artfully done.
Another of the strengths is Kitty’s arc. She begins as a rather spoiled and naive young woman (yet still likable, due to her fortitude) who grows into a cynical person who stops giving a crap about the wrong stuff. She was always fiery and definitely not “stupid” like typical “spoiled little rich girl” tropes, so her transition and (dare I say it) coming of age feels natural and it’s wonderful to see her come into her own.
I didn’t really like Nate. This wasn’t a flaw of the novel but my own response to him. While his rebelliousness made sense and was admirable, he infantilizes Kitty quite a bit (he’s always telling her what is what and trying to protect her) and his arrogance was a little annoying. This lessens as the story grows, but he never really loses these rather irritating traits. His feelings towards Kitty felt a little hyperbolic to me. Then I remembered that he’s only 22 when the story starts, so I’m trying to cut him some slack.
There were a couple of things I was a little unsure about, such as how the monetary system worked and just how technologically advanced the society was. This didn’t take away from the plot, but it made me question a few decisions they made.
Still, the novel was a joy to read, and thank you again to the author for reaching out.
NOTE: This is part of a pentalogy. While it can stand alone, it’s also set up nicely for the sequels.