Okay, this plot was ridiculous, but for some reason I still liked this, I think. I'm conflicted. Also, Jet Nebula was my favorite to be honest, but IOkay, this plot was ridiculous, but for some reason I still liked this, I think. I'm conflicted. Also, Jet Nebula was my favorite to be honest, but I have a soft spot for smuggler types. He made this book 110% better. Marc Thompson is also an amazing narrator.
Touch of Power follows Avry, a healer on the run. After a large portion of the population is decimated by a plague, healers are blamed for the outbreak mainly due to a poorly worded missive released during the early stages of the outbreak that directed healers not to heal anyone with the plague because it was fatal to healers. Healers draw pain, wounds, and sickness from the bodies of others onto themselves, allowing their natural healing abilities to help them recover quicker than the normal person. Despite the fact that no one is no longer being infected by the plague years after the outbreak, healers are still hunted by impoverished communities for gold offered by the rulers. Avry finds herself in the middle of a political struggle after a group of men rescue her from certain death to help an ailing prince that she blames for many things that happened to her people but who may be the realm's only hope of salvation in this new ravished world.
The people who recommended this book to me weren't kidding when they said that the "zombies" in this story were very background. (Refer to this post.) In fact, I almost forgot there were supposed to be zombies in this book until the end when they were a peripheral threat. Overall, the story was a bit shallow, which means I found that I didn't invest much emotion into the characters or their world. I was disappointed that there was not much more to Avry other than to be the long-suffering healer who takes everything in stride without complaint. You'd think someone who took people's pain, illnesses, and injuries would express some discontent from time to time, especially when you consider she's the one who ends up bearing their scars. I did enjoy learning more about the healers and their powers, though, and the connection it forged between a healer and those she helped.
The other characters were essentially basic molds and forgettable, but you still kind of develop a soft spot for them. The love interest is one that's typical of the genre. You know, the asshole that the girl just can't help liking who turns into total mush near the end. The one, though, takes the cake. It's one thing to be an asshole. It's another to initially be an abusive asshole, and I refuse to try to explain away his actions earlier in the story. His logic is, "Yeah, I might've shackled you to a tree, starved you, and attempted to coerce you to do what I wanted by walking you to exhaustion while you're half-starved and freezing, but I saved you from jail and mercenaries. So, there's that. I'm not a bad guy, really. I love you. Love me." With that being said, the romance part of this book didn't overwhelm the story that Snyder was trying to tell. And I could've liked Kerrick in the end if he hadn't pulled that dick move in the beginning. Honestly, most of the men in this book seemed to have a "I do what I want, Thor!" mentality. And that's pretty meant you're going to do what they want whether through charm, force, or magic. Sometimes, this book was like reading about a bunch of 10-year-old boys.
The writing had a tendency to feel like it was skewed for a much younger audience despite Avry being on the older side of the young adult spectrum. At the same time, the story was allowed more adult moments since the characters are all in their twenties, which did lead for some non-graphic, sensual moments. Gabra Zackman was a solid narrator. The only thing that really irked me about it was the voices she used for the male characters. She sounded a bit stilted and awkward while trying to voice them. However, this was an okay story. I dare say it's good even if it sounds like I hated. The writing is tight, and I thought the last half of the book was much more engaging than the beginning which is largely why this got at least three stars. If I'd just based my rating on the last half of the book, I could've given it 4 stars. I did actually start to care more toward the end and was sad that the feeling I had during the last half of the book hadn't translated to the whole book and then, it was over. I tend to be overly critical of anything that categorizes itself as speculative YA, so my opinion is to be taken with a grain of salt. I think that most people who typically enjoy YA of this variety will be mostly pleased with this because there's much here to enjoy especially during the second half. Despite being underwhelmed, I do still want to try Snyder's Poison Study. I'm still trying to decide if I want to continue with this series or not....more