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Friday, February 14, 2014

“Touch” by Michelle Sagara (Reviewed by Casey Blair)

Order “TouchHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE (PDF)
Read FBC’s Review of “Silence

I loved Michelle Sagara's Silence, the first of her YA urban fantasy series Queen of the Damned, and I've been eagerly awaiting the sequel since. Touch had some great moments and dealt with some heart-rending situations — to name a few: child abandonment from both the parental and child perspectives; parents beginning to date again from the perspectives of both the teen child and the dead husband; and most to the point, given the cliffhanger of Silence, how you cope when the love of your life comes back to you as a ghost, from the ghost and the protagonist's perspectives. All tricky balances to walk, and the author manages them beautifully.

One of the things I love in this series is how Sagara deals with the ideas of “coping” with death, and the nuances of grief. What “moving on” even means, and whether it's possible.

I also continue to love the supporting characters Amy and Michael, in part because Sagara makes these characters that could easily be stereotypes, so very much more. A lot of how she does that is by having both of them make strong choices: agency combined with competency is always a win for me.

That said, Touch did feel kind of middle-book-ish to me. There was a lot of character and issue exploration, but not a whole lot of plot movement. The author did clarify some of my questions from the first book, and the ending once again presented a very interesting dilemma, but there was some lag getting there.

I'm also a little unsatisfied with Alison's character arc — namely that it doesn't seem to really arc at all. It's more an exploration of who she is, but she doesn't change. One of the central conflicts of this book is the value of friendship when that friendship is actively dangerous to each involved party. And likewise what an average human can do when faced with supernatural forces targeting them. Now, Sagara did set up the possibility of training average humans, but so far, the average human is dead weight that causes complications for their friends. I suspect being valued precisely for her ordinariness might be part of the point, but it didn't work for me.

I would have liked a little more movement on both plot and character fronts in Touch, but Michelle Sagara has set up a lot to work with in the next installment and I look forward to reading it.

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