Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Review: Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Series: #1 in the Healer series
Release Date: December 20, 2011
Publisher: Mira
Pages: 394
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars









Summary

From Goodreads:

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 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...


Review

HECK YES

I love books like this. I don't even know where to begin with pointing out the awesome. Think specially made pom-poms and t-shirts just for this book so I can adequately fangirl over it.

I'll be your friend, 
and not just because it would be handy to have you around

Avry is almost perfect for me. Almost. I couldn't help but compare her to Yelena (I know, bad Small), and unfortunately she didn't quite stack up. But that's more an indication of how much I adore Yelena, not how little I like Avry.

Because I like Avry a lot. She's one of those characters who is stubborn to a fault and totally blind to the obvious when it comes to romance, but for some reason I like her anyway. She even did stupid things and I liked her because her intentions were always good, even if her execution was often wanting.

Her healing power is also pretty cool. How neat would it be to have her around? At first I thought it was a pretty straight-forward power, but that was such a silly assumption on my part because Maria V. Snyder is far too amazing to do simple.

My only real complaint about Avry is that her characterization is a touch inconsistent and just a little bit Mary Sue with people fawning over her in ways that made me happy, but were also a little unrealistic.

Ok, fine, I guess I'll swoon for you

And then there's Kerrick. Oh Kerrick, what am I going to do with you? I knew I was in love with Kerrick from page one, but that really had nothing to do with Kerrick. That was all residual love from Valek.

When I started getting to know Kerrick, I was surprised by how much of a jerk he actually was. And it's not like he had an excuse for it either (or, not a good enough excuse for me).

Slowly but surely and just like Avry, I eventually came around to swooning for Kerrick (albeit a little grudgingly). It's hard not to when he's all Strong Stoic Fighter who later admits how devastated he would be if anything happened to the MC. Plus I can't not fall in love with a hate-turned-love romance.

A part of me is still sulking over his jerkiness, but I wanted to swoon over him and if I block out his earlier behavior, then swooning comes pretty easy.

(Still, dude, you just don't tie a girl to a tree and slap her like that!)

Big family alert!

I fell in love with Yelena's band of friends in Poison Study, and the same thing happened in Touch of Power. Maria V. Snyder does an awesome job at writing a group of friends who dote on the main character and make me feel all fuzzy and warm inside. I'm a sucker for the "big family" element and Maria V. Snyder totally satisfied me on this. You'd think I was looking at puppy pictures with the amount of awwws they pulled out of me.

Now, ok, maybe it wasn't totally realistic, and maybe the dialog did cross over into full on cheesy, A LOT. But I'm mostly ok with that because it made me smile.

Don't even think about bedtimes

This book is like potato chips. Or popcorn. Or cookies. What I mean is, you can't stop at just one and even with the best intentions of eating just a few, you'll soon realize you've scarfed down the entire container and you're still looking for more.

Or maybe I just have no self-control when it comes to food.

Whatever. I'm warning you now, Maria V. Snyder is an evil genius when it comes to ending every single chapter on a GIGANTIC cliffhanger. Her chapters aren't super long either, so it's easy to give in to the temptation of, "Oh, just one more" in order to find out what happens next.

This genius tactic, combined with the fast-pace, high action, and ever-growing mysteries made this 400 page tome fly by in the blink of an eye. I balk at 350 page books for being too long, so this is high praise coming from me.

My new favorite genre

I'm a character girl, and so usually it's the characters that will make or break a book for me and command the majority of my attention. And it's true, I loved the characters here. But the world Maria V. Snyder created is, dare I say it, even better.

It's solidly placed in the "generic medieval village," but a few years back a devastating plague swept through the world and killed a significant part of the population. Rulers fell and civilization pretty much disappeared, making Touch of Power a post-apocalyptic fantasy.

Yes, post-apocalyptic fantasy!! How awesome is that?? Hands down, this is my new favorite genre. Can we get more of this, please??

The sheer amazingness of this world building is making me all misty-eyed

The world is set up pretty well in the beginning and I understood the basics of what went down.  But then, the more I read, the more details filtered through. Maria V. Snyder slowly introduced the different factions rising up to take control of the fractured lands, and just like Avry, I was never sure who I should place my loyalties with (if anyone!).

Then, partway through when Avry and I thought we understood everything, a bomb was dropped that totally shook us and had us questioning everything we thought we knew. It was marvelous!

Also, do you see those flowers on the cover? I admit, when I first saw them I thought they were kinda lame and I wondered if they even had anything to do with the plot or if they were just the floral equivalent to a pretty dress cover.

Well, let me assure you that one, they play a HUGE role in the book, and two, they are freaking scary (and, also, not so tiny!). All of the mythology and history tied up with these flowers was so filled with win that I actually got toe-tapping impatient when page time was spent on things like battles and swoony scenes. Totally crazy, right?

Oh, and to make things even better, the whole story is one giant QUEST!

WARNING!
(but don't worry, it has nothing to do with animals getting hurt)

Have tissues on hand. 

Why no Special Shelf?

Three reasons. One, my mixed feelings about Avry and Kerrick.

Two, the language. Avry narrates with a very modern style of speaking that didn't feel natural to me and sometimes pulled me out of the story. I wanted something a little more "fantasy world" and less "modern teen." The other characters didn't seem to speak like this either, so that made it feel even more out of place.

And three, it just didn't stack up to Poison Study. All of the characters were less developed and the writing seemed A LOT rougher (but I read an ARC, so maybe that's why?).

Bottom line

Hooo-leee cow. How long do I have to wait for the sequel now?? No, really, how long?? I don't want to wait another second. Sure the ending is wrapped up nicely (Maria spared me her genius cliffhangers and gave me a neat ending).

But do you know how many questions I still have about the world?! I KNOW there are more secrets to uncover and gosh darnnit I am going to find out what those dead people are hiding from me!

Yes, yes you do hear me petulantly stomping my foot.

I'm hooked. Sure I like Avry and Kerrick and their friends. And sure I want to read more about them doing pretty much anything. But those flowers! That history! The fight for power! The mysteries are killing me and I am desperate for more.


Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 



 



Do you have any questions about Touch of Power that I haven't addressed?  Feel free to ask in the comments!







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43 comments:

  1. Snyder is absolutely amazing. I finished this last week and loved it. Awesome review, Small!
    NC
    Truly Bookish

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I've only read two of her books, but I love them both!

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  2. I'm so glad you liked this! I absolutely adore Maria V. Snyder!! I must go buy this now! but part of me is hesitant because I am afraid of comparing it to much to Poison Study (which was amazing. Valek=*swoon*) but at least I know that even though you did that, you still enjoyed it. Awesome review!

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    1. I couldn't help but compare (and hope!), but the story of Touch of Power can more than stand on its own. :)

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  3. Yeah, Kerrick doesn't quite stack up to Valek (swoon) but your comparison of Snyder's writing to chips is so appropriate. I kept telling myself, one more chapter...just one more chapter. Luckily my nook had to charge or I would have gotten no sleep!

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    1. Haha, yes! I had to finally go to sleep and tear myself away. She is very clever with those chapter cliffhangers.

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  4. Oh my gosh...the modern style of speaking was my main issue with this too! Great minds this alike. I also wish the romance had shown up a little earlier in the story, although I love the tension.
    A fabulous book.

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    1. Ha, yes, great minds! :D I'm glad to see I wasn't alone with that. The modern speech pulled me out of the story a little. I did love the tension of their romance.

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  5. Haha I loooove the flowers!

    I'm a bit torn about this book, because even though I enjoyed the story immensely, I couldn't get over Kerricks jerk-ness. I found their romance a bit annoying, to be honest.

    But the big band of family was amazing, and I flew through Touch of Power (:

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    Replies
    1. The flowers are so awesome! I didn't see it coming at all either.

      I had trouble getting over Kerrick's jerk-ness too. I wanted to love him, but he did make it hard at points.

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  6. Wow, amazing review!! I have only heard about this once or twice but you definitely make it sound amazing! I haven't read this yet but I'm thinking I should, especially since it sounds like such a quick and great read. Thanks for the review!

    Andrea

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    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :D

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  7. I've read Inside Out but none of her other books. I like SF a bit more than Fantasy, but Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy? I'm going to have to check it out! And I'll add the Poison Study series to my TBR list while I'm at it! Great review!

    Andrea (The Overstuffed Bookcase)

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    Replies
    1. The post-apocalyptic fantasy was awesome! I hope more writers pick up the genre. I haven't read Maria's Inside Out books yet (though I have the first one). I'm curious how they compare with her fantasy books. Hope you enjoy!

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  8. YAY! I'm really looking forward to reading this one. It's on my "have to read this book now!" list. I'm also curious about my reactions to Kerrick. I absolutely melted for Valek and wonder if I still have residual love left over. :)

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    1. I hope you love it! I'll be curious to see how you react to Kerrick. :)

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  9. Mmm... my friend Rebecca keeps trying to get me to read this author and your review is tempting me... but it's really not my thing.

    Now I'm torn :(

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    Replies
    1. I adore the two Maria V. Snyder books I've read, but I can understand if she's not your style. Maybe give one a try? You can always DNF it if it isn't working for you. And even though Poison Study and Touch of Power are parts of a series, you can read both as standalones (especially Poison Study).

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  10. What a funny review..you petulantly stomping your foot. I have seen so many mixed reviews on this one. I guess it is either a love it hate it read. Guess I will just have to see for myself.

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    1. :) I hope you fall on the side that loves it!

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  11. Loved your review! I'm literally giggling to myself and in the best of ways!

    I have yet to read Poison Study (before you go scolding me... I'M ON IT!) but now I'm really excited about this and Snyder's other books. I do love a good chapter-end cliffhanger so this sounds right up my alley. : )

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    1. I'm so happy you did! :)

      hehe, I'll withhold my scolding :P I hope you enjoy them both as much as I do!

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  12. Yay!! Great review! I agreed with everything you said (especially the parts about Kerrick...and Avry narrating the story in a very modern way), but maybe with a little less enthusiasm. It's not a favorite, but I'll probably read it again, because it was enjoyable. And your review is making me think about it again!! ;)

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    1. Oooh, good! It's always nice seeing people agree with you :) I don't remember, have you read Poison Study?

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  13. This book sounds awesome, but--as you mention--I'm worried that it won't be able to live up to Synder's Poison Study series. And I know no one can live up to Valek. ;)

    Your enthusiasm for the story is contagious, though, so I'm sure I'll pick it up eventually.

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    1. I think if you go into it expecting to enjoy it, but not as much as Poison Study, then you'll be happy. That way if it doesn't live up to PS for you, well, you were prepared for that. But if it does, then you can be happily surprised. :)

      I think the plot stacked up just as well as Poison Study, but I liked the development and personalities of the characters in PS better. I hope you enjoy it!

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  14. I really enjoyed Poison Study, but I wasn't as into Magic Study (though it was still worth reading). I'm excited to read Touch of Power, ESPECIALLY since you seemed to really enjoy it. A not-quite-the-special-shelf is still a high recommendation!

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    1. I've heard that about Magic Study. I'm afraid to continue on with the Study series because I loved PS so much and I don't want to mess up that experience. I hope you like Touch of Power!

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  15. I'm a character girl too so I'm quite intrigued. I'm curious about this modern way of speaking. It's one of those negatives that make me want to read the book so I can have an opinion too. Lol.

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    1. Haha I know just what you mean! I'll be interested in reading your thoughts on this one!

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  16. Ohhh, okay! I thought when you said we should talk about Kerrick that meant you thought he was, well, bottom-of-the-barrel material. I have this one and I'm tempted to start it now that I've finished with A Matter of Magic. Which I might possibly have skimmed in sections. Possibly.

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    1. He's...not bottom of the barrel, but he's, he's leaving me conflicted. He crosses some lines that I'm having trouble accepting.

      Oh no! But, but A Matter of Magic had such a pretty cover! (I tried reading the first book in that bind up and DNF-ed it. So I understand the skimming.).

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  17. Sounds great! I haven't read any of Maria V. Snyder's books, but this sounds like a great book! Obviously you loved it!

    Heather

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    1. So, so good! You really must read one of her books someday :)

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  18. "This book is like potato chips. Or popcorn. Or cookies. What I mean is, you can't stop at just one and even with the best intentions of eating just a few, you'll soon realize you've scarfed down the entire container and you're still looking for more." That's me! Lol.

    I still need to read The Poison Study series but everyone seems to love it so that has been in my TBR pile for awhile. This one sounds maybe not as good (but still terrific) and since I've never read a post-apocalyptic fantasy but love fantasy, I'm adding it to my wishlist. Snyder's world-building seems fantastic!

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    1. Oh yes, you must read Poison Study! I've heard iffy things about the series, but I adored the first book and it reads as a standalone. Her world building in Touch of Power IS fantastic! There were so many mysteries to puzzle out :) I hope you like it as much as I do!

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  19. I still have yet to read a Snyder book, but your enthusiasm is catching & makes me think I need to make reading something by her a priority :) I have a lot of friends who LOVE her stuff, so I will definitely have to make a point to read her soon!

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    1. Oh please do bump Maria V. Snyder up your list! :)

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  20. New fave genre! Okay, I'm in. I also have yet to read a Snyder book. *hides in shame*

    PS - my blog isn't doing the reply comments thing. What am I doing wrong?

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  21. Woah, I don't know why this one slipped under my radar because it sounds amazing! Post-apocalyptic fantasy is just an awesome genre that I've never really read (Dark Inside sort of counts, but not really) but already need more of. I am also ashamed that I've never read a Maria Snyder book... I do have Inside Out on my shelf though. I love the "big family" aspect in books!

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  22. OMg! I just finished this and....I don't even know what to say! it was amaaaazing !! It had everything I want in a book! *SQUEE!!!* Sorry, went all fan-girl on ya there :P It was just that awesome. I totally agree that post-apoc fantasy is fantastic! I also agree with the language being to modern. For me, since it felt as you put it "generic medieval village" I expected the language to be a bit different. However, my love for it completely made me forget about it! ♥ I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    All the best!
    Mackenzie @ Oh, For the Love of Books!

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