Monday, December 26, 2011

[Review] Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Title: Touch of Power {goodreads}
Authors: Maria V. Snyder
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/01/2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
RRP: $19.99
Source: For review (thanks to publisher!)
Precautions: PG (15+) - Violence
Pages: 394
My Rating:

Summary:
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogue...moreLaying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.

Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life....
My thoughts: 

* In red and green are the "essential" stuff you can
read if you're just skimming through here. *

~ Final thoughts ~

A finely woven tale of magic and spirited adventure, TOUCH OF POWER is just one of those stories that will draw readers in and never let go. Maria V. Snyder has definitely made a fan out of me - this was my first book written by her but it will not be my last! I do not read much high fantasy, and reading this book is just a reminder that I should.

You know those books that just light up your face, the ones you could talk on and on about? The books that keep you up until the wee hours of the morning, with unforgettable characters, a setting that is built extremely well, and a plot that is surprising and heart-racing and imaginative and strong? Yeah. This is one of those books, in my opinion.

MY SYNOPSIS

TOUCH OF POWER starts off when our main character Avry - who has been on the run for three years - heals a wailing child, is found out by the parents and is arrested, and will be hung. Except, a miracle occurs - a group of rogues bust her out. Avry is a Healer, and to just about everyone everywhere Healers are bad and fearful beings who began the nasty plague that has killed off countless people. The rogues don't plan to turn Avry over to King Tohon, who has issued out a high reward for any Healer captured. This group has been looking for a Healer for two years, because the only person able to stop King Tohon's destructive conquest has caught the deadly plague. But if Avry heals this man, that means she will not live.

CHARACTERS

Avry is hands down one of my favourite heroines - bold, intelligent, stubborn but in a good way because she has her own beliefs and values and knows where her priorities lie. She's not afraid to fight and keep on fighting; she doesn't give up. She's outspoken and brash and has a wicked sense of humour that can rub people the wrong way. Her unruly circumstances - the downfall of the Healer reputation with the plague - has torn her away from the world she's known, and she's had to stay in hiding for years. She's strong, even considering she doesn't know where her family is, or even if they're still alive. None of those characteristics felt contrived or forced - it felt like such an intrinsic part of her being that I believed every action, every word she spoke, every emotion she felt.

Then there is the gang of rogues who saved her from certain death. At the very beginning I had to make a little list so I wouldn't mix people up, but really, I didn't need it because they're just so endearing and memorable! I lost count how many times I just cracked up laughing, the guys joke around and tease each other so much, and Snyder writes their dialogue with such ease that I wouldn't be surprised if she spied on groups of guys for inspiration. There are five guys - Kerrick, the leader; Belen, a heart full of gold; Vinn and Quain, the monkeys; and Flea, who is, well, Flea (see quote ii.). I'll let you fall in love with them when you read it yourself. ;)

For the majority of the book, we are following the journey of Avry along with the rogues. But, along the way we meet many great characters.

PLOT

TOUCH OF POWER reminds me of GRACELING (Kristin Cashore), in that there is a lot of time spent moving from one town to the next, where many eventful things unfold. The overall storyline, as laid out above in the synopsis, is pretty simple. What really shines through is the depth in creating the world and the characters, and just the whole backstory behind the Healers and the plague, that we get little snippets of. Like the characters, we don't have the whole picture just yet.

There were so many shocking moments that it was really hard to put this book down. I loved the plot twists. Snyder certainly knew what she was doing when she wrote every little bit of this book. There's a meaning and connection in about everything that happens, and for that matter I love the fact that it all ends on a good note, but it leaves the reader with so many questions. The beauty of fantasy and dystopian fiction should be in the world-building, above all else. They make you question the societal rules and customs, the relations between rules/laws and ethics, and how they play with our own beliefs, as readers.

Ultimately, this book ends meaningfully and also allows ample breathing room for the second book in the series, with more than enough lingering questions to draw readers in to read on.

RELATIONSHIPS

I love the closeness within the group of rogues, and their bonds only grow stronger as they venture onward.

The romance takes a backseat to all the action and adventure, family and friendship. Suits me just fine. For the first half of the book there is no sign of any impending romance, but eventually sparks do fly. It's just, don't expect an insta-love progression. Hopeless romantics will swoon, probably.

WRITING

Dialogue? Genius.
Actions? Like I was right there.
Setting? As above.

As this is Snyder's ninth book, I'm sure if you've read any of her books you have an idea whether you like or don't like her writing style. I've already gushed on about how much I loved the dialogue.

COVERS

The covers for this book are so different to each other, but they all have significance to the overall story which I like.

Now that I've read the book I think I prefer the UK cover, though I'd be happy with any.

US (left, below): Probably the "prettiest" of them all. Includes peace/death lilies, Avry is pretty, but in my opinion too pretty (the makeup) in this cover. Love the font and composition of this one, as well as the profile of Avry.

UK (right, below): I like that there is forest in the background, as well as mountain. The cloak and overall look of Avry seems fair enough, and I can't complain about the effects emanating off her fingers. I don't like the text too much, especially the size of Snyder's name, but hey.

AU (top): I love that Avry is wearing a yellow dress! And the scar and Healer tattoo. There's also forest and mountain, and this one is brighter and more colourful than the UK. One thing is that, to me, it looks a bit historical romance-y, from afar.


Quotes:

First lines
The little girl wouldn't stop crying. I didn't blame her. She was dying after all.

Favourite lines
"Avry, why did you risk your life for me? Kerrick ordered you not to heal me. You suffered for days! You shouldn't have done it."
     The room grew quiet. I spotted Kerrick near the doorway.
     "Belen, I decide who I heal. Me. Not you. Not anyone. It's my life on the line each time. It's my decision. The only one I have left." I put my hand on his cheek. "You deserved to be saved. I had no doubts." (p. 71)

Buy:

* cheapest Australian e-store price

AUSTRALIAN RESIDENTS


~ with all Harlequin Teen books I'd recommend you buy directly from them ~

Harlequin Teen *
Fishpond | Readings | Dymocks | Angus & Robertson | Borders | The Nile

INTERNATIONAL READERS


All links from Booko, because I'm too lazy to search each individual store anymore.

Extras:

On Booko I saw this cover for the Australian version, and I'm so glad it's not the final one because it doesn't look like Avry, and it comes across too dark and paranormal for my liking, rather than plain fantasy.


Chapter one sneak preview ~ here

Maria V. Snyder's got some awesome contests going on ~ here

Other TOUCH OF POWER reviews
Manda's Movements: 5 stars {link}
Nice Girls Read Books: 5 stars {link}
Saz101: 5 stars {link}
A Book Obsession: 4 stars/butterflies {link}




I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

Challenge: ---

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