- Source: Review Copy
- Pages: 305
- Publication Date: 23 February 2017
- My Rating: 4.5 stars
A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden is a post-apocalyptic dystopian novel set a thousand years in the future. After the Devastation, a highly dictatorial kingdom has been set up. It is a very barbaric regime where crimes are punished by either execution or torture. The citizens do not have any control over their lives. They are assigned a life-partner or “Complement” from a very young age. Protesting against the king’s rule is not taken lightly.
The protagonists are Nate and Catherine. Nate Anteros is a rebel and an opposer of the king. He is on the run with his brother Thom’s complement Catherine. When they come back home, they realize that both of them have contracted an infection because of which their skin burns when they touch someone. They can only touch each other and heal each other to an extent, but the infection might kill them soon.
The book starts on a very thrilling note. A prisoner is being tortured in Redwater prison in Anais, ruled by King Marcus. Colonel Cooper Sikander, one of the guards, is a sympathetic witness to the torture. While I was slightly confused with what was going on, as there are not many details at the beginning of the book about the world that the story is set in, the plot picked up a fast pace soon enough and I was captivated.
The details about the world are not explained in the beginning and that made me feel disconnected to the world. It does take place gradually after a few chapters. I liked how technology was used in the book. It was not completely absent, and it was more of a twist on the modern technology that we use.
The story follows the journey of two tortured souls, stuck together. I felt bad for both of them. While Catherine seemed a bit naive, she was someone who had never done anything wrong in her life but was still in danger. Nate was not an innocent person, but he was still anguished, sick and heartbroken. They were both being chased and the danger of being caught and killed was on their heads constantly.
I grew very attached to these two characters. The romance between them did not feel forced at all. It was based on the bond they had formed in such an impossible situation and I couldn’t help but root for them.
Thom’s character was a bit difficult to figure out. Catherine’s perception of him was biased. He was clearly a lot more cunning and perhaps not as innocent as she thought. His actions were reckless.
By the end of the novel, Catherine’s character stood out for me because of how much she had grown. While she was conflicted about her feelings, she was also questioning the things she always just went along with. Perhaps for the first time in her life, she was rebelling.
This is one of those books in which the characters are always in danger. However, they had certain privileges. Both Catherine and Nate came from rich families with direct contact with the king. In this sense, the book comments on the unfairness in a society where the rich and powerful get away with their crimes, and the poor and weak have to live a life of hardship.
This is the first time that I read a fantasy/dystopian novel that doesn’t have a lot of characters and I enjoyed that. It gave me room to just focus on the protagonists and the plot. I equally enjoyed the story and the world it was set it. The pace was steady. The plot is extremely intense and kept me on edge throughout the book.
A Touch of Death has well-constructed world-building, romance, science-fiction, and dystopian elements, and an extremely thrilling and intense story. I highly recommend it.