A thousand years in the future, humanity has emerged from hiding beneath the Earth to avoid destruction and is slowly rebuilding. Advanced technology and strong laws have given the residents of Cutta a relatively safe and happy life, and although not everyone is satisfied with this life, dissenters are severely punished. Nate Anteros, despite his parents being in the King’s good graces, is one such dissenter. Catherine Taenia, who is to marry Nate’s brother Thom, has lived a quiet and sheltered life in the capital of Cutta. After Nate’s release from prison, he seeks out Catherine and Thom, which upends all three of their lives as they discover secrets about the home they thought they knew and the world they now live in.
This book surprised me with several positive and interesting aspects. To begin with, the world building has a lot of potential. As I read along, many, many questions popped into my head. What exactly happened to Earth? How did people and animals live beneath the ground for so much time? How are the animals, plants, etc. that stayed above ground changed? Are there still people living underground somewhere? The basic concept of the world is very interesting, and I wanted to know everything about the planet as well as how society functions now.
Mutants are a threat and a curiosity to the current society. It appears that not all humans remained safe underground; some stayed above and became mutated. The mutants used to be human, and their presence and relationship to humanity is a major plot point. The characters spend a good amount of time traveling in this book, so we see a few different people and places, but I definitely wanted to know more about all of them. Different cities appeared to have different people, religions, and cultures, but since the book is quite short, we only get a small taste of some of them. This is a series, so I imagine the world is fleshed out much more in subsequent novels.
One thing I disliked was some of the pacing. For example, I really enjoyed the novel’s exciting and dramatic opening, but the pace slowed down a lot for a while afterwards without enough urgency to drive it forward. At other points a character might leave the scene and although part of a day passes, the character returns within the same page. At times scenes feel too abrupt, and at other times the pace slows down a bit too much.
I liked the author’s writing style. It wasn’t overly flowery, but it also wasn’t dry to read. I do wish that there was a bit more descriptive language, but I’m someone who really likes description. I also just wanted a bit more world building in general. I wouldn’t say that the novel is dialogue-heavy, but there is quite a bit. If you dislike the characters, you might not enjoy their banter, but I thought it was fine and even humorous at times.
I gave A Touch of Death 3.5 stars, but since Goodreads still won’t add half stars, I settled for rounding up to 4 stars there. This is a good start to an interesting sci-fi, romance, dystopian series that I think deserves a little more attention!
Thank you to the author who kindly provided me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.