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Friday, January 11, 2013

Review: Touch of Death by Kelly Hashway

Touch of Death
(Touch of Death #1)
Kelly Hashway
Spencer Hill Press
Format: ARC
Source: from pub
Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.
After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.
Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.

MY REVIEW: A deadly touch, mythology, hot boys...these are awesome things. I like these things. So, it really sucks that I did not like the way these things were used in this book. In fact, there isn't much about this book that I did like.

Touch of Death is about high school junior Jodi Marhsall. Jodi thinks she's normal- she has a great mom, a great BFF, and a perfect boyfriend- but, then she finds out she's not normal at all. First, some hot guy begins to stalk her, then animals who should be dead start to come back to life around her, and even worse, people around her begin to die. Jodi can kill with a kiss or drop of blood and can even restore life with her touch. Jodi's stalker, Alex, is like her, a necromancer descendant of Medusa, born under the 13th zodiac sign, Ophiuchus. But Jodi isn't just any necromancer (of course!), she's the Chosen One who must save her kind from Hades.

I'm not really sure where to start with this one. I can fully appreciate what author Kelly Hashway has tried to do with Touch of Death, but I found the overall execution extremely lacking. The story is boring and contrived, the characters are flat, and the writing is unremarkable.

Touch of Death ambitiously combines Greek mythological lore with the supernatural aspects of necromancers and the newly popular intrigue of the 13th zodiac sign Ophiuchus, but it doesn't really do this particularly well. All of these elements have been explored and done before and they've been done better. I'm a huge mythology fan and the way these elements were used and laid out in this book just did nothing for me. Hashway does provide some much needed history of Jodi's kind, but overall, the world-building is non-existent. I don't feel like I ever got a clear picture of these people, their abilities, their purpose, or community. The whole book is one big example of “telling” and not “showing”.

The writing lacks a memorable spark and, in some places, I just found it plan bad, cringe-worthy even. The plot lacks any suspense of any kind; things are just blurted out or presented in an in-your-face kind of way. Like the whole Jodi being the Chosen One is just casually thrown into a conversation between she and Alex: “blah blah blah the prophecy about your birth blah blah the Chosen One blahblahblah...”. The book is 235 pages, but nothing remotely substantial happens. And everything that does happen feels incredibly contrived and forced.

One of the things I hate most in books, is being hit over the head with something repeatedly. In this case, Jodi is repeatedly and accidentally getting cut or nicked and bleeding on (or crying on or kissing, etc) something/someone and either killing them or bringing them back to life. This happens SO MANY TIMES, yet Jodi didn't realize what was happening until like the 5th time, but readers can figure it all out by like the 2nd incident. After the third or fourth incident I was just like “OMG! I get it already! She can kill and can she heal! Sheesh!”. The sheer amount of these unnecessary “incidents” made me feel like the book was terribly underestimating my intelligence as a reader >.<

And let's talk about the many times Jodi cuts/scratches/nicks herself. We're given no indication that Jodi has, up to this point, been a clumsy or unobservant person, yet she can't go an hour without injuring herself accidentally? Which brings me to the characterization and character development of these characters, or lack of. Jodi is a frustrating, flat, boring, conflicting “heroine”. One minute she's describing her boyfriend by saying “But it was Matt. He could do no wrong in my eyes” (pg 13), and this is the moment I knew I wouldn't like this girl. Then later, she says “I'm not that shallow. I don't need to have a boyfriend." (pg 74). If your character has to verbally acknowledge this, then the girl power sentiment behind it turns to bullshit.

She, and all the rest of the characters, are also insufferably stereotypical. Alex is meant to be the cocky bad boy with a secret heart of gold, Abby is the bitchy gorgeous girl jealous of Jodi and in love with Alex, and Alex's parents are the “mysterious” leaders of their group who we, the readers, are suppose to be conflicted about (do I trust them? Are they evil?)...and these are the roles they are stuffed into and play. There is no depth or complexity to them at all.

By the end of the book, I cared very little for the characters or the story itself, and I wasn't sad to see it end. 

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Touch of Death certainly killed me with its lacking execution, flat characters, and boring pacing . The story just didn't work for me and I won't be continuing with the series.


Purchase: Amazon / B&N
Kelly Hashway: Site / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
I write for children of all ages from picture books up to young adult. I am proudly represented by Lauren Hammond of ADA Management. My debut YA, TOUCH OF DEATH, releases January 15, 2013 through Spencer Hill Press. Also look for my other upcoming YA novels: STALKED BY DEATH (Spencer Hill Press, July 23, 2013), THE MONSTER WITHIN (Spencer Hill Press, April 2014), THE DARKNESS WITHIN (Spencer Hill Press, TBA), and INTO THE FIRE (Month9Books, spring 2014). My debut MG series CURSE OF THE GRANVILLE FORTUNE releases in 2016 through Month9Books.

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