Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review - A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford

A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins)
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
Source: Library

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started reading A Touch Mortal. The cover copy was very vague, except that it mentioned angels that have fallen. The main characters don’t fit the stereotypes I normally associate with fallen angels, and in my mind that elevates A Touch Mortal above the usual angel novel.

Eden is ready to give up on life when she meets Az and Gabe. She wasn’t expecting them, but with them around Eden is happy and feels loved. So when she suddenly finds herself without Az and in a new situation, Eden lashes out. She wakes up one evening to learn that she is now a Sider, someone who must spread Touch to humans. Without much information about her new “life” Eden must find a way to survive and stay invisible enough that she doesn’t attract the attention of either Heaven or Hell.

Eden is one of those characters you want to root for. She gets put in impossible situations and often has to find her own way out of them. She’s at a disadvantage due to a lack of information, which could have been easily remedies if other characters hadn’t been reluctant to be completely honest. Her whole existence would have been different if she had been told the truth from the beginning.

Gabriel is the character you think you know. His intentions seem pretty obvious; until it turns out he doesn’t match the image you have of him. Gabe was the most conflicted character, but I didn’t realize that until very close to the end and it changed my entire opinion of him. It’s obvious how much Gabriel cares for Eden and Az, so that redeemed him a little for me.

Az is hard to pin down. He doesn’t have as much page time and a lot of that is seen through the filter of Eden’s and Gabe’s perspectives. I’m hoping that he will get more page time in the nest installment, because I want to know more about Az and his history.

The supporting characters add some dimension to the story. Siders like Kristen and Eden’s crew of Adam, Jarrod and James give the reader a little more of the Sider mythology. But there really wasn’t enough. I wonder of that’s because Eden only knew the small amount she was told at the start. Then, she didn’t go after more information on her own. I thought there would be more interaction between the Sider factions but they all seemed content to stay within their boundaries, even though Eden ended up going Rogue (to use the Fallen term).

And speaking of the Fallen, there is Luke. For an antagonist he was quite creepy and very single-minded in his focus. Again, he was a character that was discussed or seen from other characters’ perspectives so that the reader gets the filter, character skewed version. The reader is told what is agenda is without hearing, or seeing it, directly from Luke; this leads to interesting interpretations, which are not really true. The moment his true agenda becomes clear, a lot of what happened before clicks into place. From that point on, it was easy to see that many of the characters’ actions stem from their interpretation of what Luke is really after, what his goal is, and it’s clear to see how that led the characters to make the choices they did. He became the Master Manipulator without actually having to manipulate a lot of people. While he was one of the least likeable characters, he was one of the most interesting.

It was the characters that really stood out to me in A Touch Mortal. They made the story for me and made me want to keep reading. The action felt stop and go and came in bursts, weeks or months would pass by in an instant with little information about what happened. It was here that it felt like the author was telling more that showing what happened. There were moments of brilliance - an intense scene at a rave, Eden’s first contact with Kristen - but I wish there had been more. The ending was very shocking and I’m hoping more will be explained in the sequel.

A Touch Mortal does deal with some dark subjects, specifically suicide. I, personally, would recommend A Touch Mortal to more mature teens that are looking for a book about angels that is different from the usual fare.

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