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

FF’s Star Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Having to live with any type of chronic illness is not good for anyone, but fate usually has its way of kicking the strong in the behind. Add to that the type of society you would only get in a dystopian science fiction novel, then you have a situation that begs for indifference in the sense that a reader won’t exactly know what the author has in store for his or her characters. This is something readers can expect in A Touch of Death (The Outlands Pentalogy Book 1) by Rebecca Crunden, a novel that definitely has a shot of impressing whoever chooses to read it.

Being a dissenter is not something you would like to be in the Kingdom of Cutta, with the fate of being such a thing being death. Nate Anteros, a man who is the eldest son of the King’s favorite, is a prisoner who might have it in him to see the Kingdom brought to it’s knees. When he is outside of prison, his life involves a woman called Catherine Taenia. He has a little brother called Tommy who pays him and Catherine a visit. Tommy dies shortly thereafter, and Nate and Catherine end up getting infected with what someone they pay a visit to believe to be a military concoction from a man named Yosef Smith. They’re primary journey is to a freakish sounding place called the Outlands.

Crunden opens up with an introduction of her world which is quite fearsome in my opinion. She introduces the Kingdom of Cutta which consists out of ten countries which was established during what is known in this story as the Last War. With Anais being the capital city of Cutta, most of the countries’ names are original. I believe readers will favor the names Rinlow, Eyre, and Clearbow, three out of ten. Not bad and they help to give this novel its own place in the realm of dystopian science fiction.

Concerning Nate and Tommy, what is admirable on Nate’s part is that he did love Tommy, despite Catherine having been in both their lives as a woman that either of them could’ve ended up falling in love with. Nate is a man that has a difficult past. There is a scene where Catherine sees how he is troubled while sleeping and this makes him appear like one of those dangerous men that some women are usually fond of. Tommy, however, was more of the good variety, although Nate did have qualities in him that Tommy didn’t. When I first met Tommy, I liked, just as Catherine did, that Nate was more tolerable, as Crunden wrote. Nate’s family members are to be met which helps in making him more likeable. When it comes to Catherine, what cannot be denied is that Tommy was someone she greatly loved. One of the author’s many inventive lines, which shows readers how Catherine thinks, stands out for me: “Sad was a conscious, constant emotion.” Tommy’s death has left a big dent in her heart and she misses him a lot. Her fondness for Nate grows as they journey to the Outlands.

Nate and Catherine can both possibly end up dying due to the disease they both have. It was a horrible thing to imagine anyone having because of its unpredictability. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I were in either Nate or Catherine’s shoes. They are both inspirational characters who go on to achieve what they want despite what the illness is doing to them. For some reason, it harms Nate faster. It takes longer for Catherine to show the symptoms that Nate has; what worries her is how long it would take for her to do so.

The author is a passionate writer and her writing amazed me every once in a while. Some of her sentences made me pause and think hard about what she was trying to say. She is good at making readers sympathize with her characters. She also lets you know what het characters sound like when they speak and this is something I greatly like in novels because the characters become more realistic when authors do this. I liked how the interior of a man named Archie’s house was explained. It seemed as if the author angered herself with the way she described this house – something quite chaotic – and I sort of found myself in danger of falling in a fit of laughter.

I liked Catherine for the most part, but a certain section of her past didn’t fit in for me with the story. Her first kiss had been with a girl called Ciara and this is something that she talks about in a pleasant conversation with Nate. This part, however, reveals that there’s some sort of a rebel that resides in Catherine. Something for readers to look out for as they progress through the novel. The novel, meanwhile, might be unique in that Crunden’s world involves a world governed by a king, but when it comes to little things that stood out for me such as a conn, a type of communication device, I have to admit that it wasn’t that imaginative. In my opinion, the Kingdom of Cutta needed more of the old tongue for a better visual. The King is a man to fear because of strict laws that doesn’t leave much room for his people to rebel.

The possibility that either Nate or Catherine might end up dying will keep readers on edge. I wasn’t that worried about this because I was more interested in what the Outlands had to offer. Other than danger, their journey also leads them to come across a beautiful kind of innocence, but the last part definitely ruins things for these two. I liked Rebecca Crunden’s novel to a certain degree because I didn’t understand everything about her story. If there is one thing that I would say about this novel, it would be that we see at least how human nature can still prevail after a massive war has ruined the world.

Kindle Edition:

Publisher: Self-Published
Date Published: February 23, 2017
Genre: Dystopian Fiction
Pages: 305
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