Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Touch: A Denazen Novel Book Review

 Author: Jus Accardo. Release date: 2011. Publisher:  Entangled Teen. ISBN9781620610138.

Annotation: After Dez has a chance run in with the handsome and mysterious Kale, she learns that her father is part of an elite organization called Denazen that collects Sixes: people with mutations that give them extraordinary super powers.  
Personal thoughts: One thing I kept thinking throughout this novel was, “This is what X-Men would have been liked if Magneto had been in charge of the school instead of Professor Xavier.” After finishing it, that thought pretty much sums up the story! I found a lot of elements in the book to be similar to other young adult novels, and the parallels with X-Men are so apparent that the author even mentions them in the book. The one thing that really saved the novel for me was the author’s obviously thoughtful construction of Dez. She starts off the story seriously annoying and obnoxious, but the reader gets to see her personality mature and progress as she becomes more entrenched in her plight to find out the truth about Denazen. So often, protagonists in young adult novels are somewhat wooden, so it was nice to read about a “real” girl with a lot of spunk. Although this book wasn’t my favorite, I would still recommend it to teen girls who want something with action and romance. There is enough to enjoy about the story to make it a worthwhile read.
Plot summary: Seventeen-year-old Deznee “Dez” Cross has spent most of her life trying to break through her lawyer father’s iron guard by making him angry. Her mother died giving birth to her, and Dez has always assumed that her dad’s icy relationship with her is because he blames her for losing his wife. Dez isn’t sure how else to get his attention, so she spends her days partying, hooking up with guys, and pulling daredevil stunts like skateboarding off of roofs. One night after a particularly wild party, Dez happens to meet a handsome and mysterious guy named Kale. Kale seems disoriented, and Dez soon learns that he is on the run from Denazen, the “law firm” her father works for. Kale informs Dez that her father is actually involved in the collection of Sixes, people, mostly children and teens, with a mutated sixth chromosome that gives them extraordinary superpowers. Kale has the ability to kill anyone just with the touch of his hand, but he and Dez are shocked to discover that Dez is inexplicably immune to his power. Horrified by the truth about her father, Dez and Kale find themselves both targets of Denazen and on the run. But how long can Dez evade her father, and what will happen when he and Denazen discover a dangerous secret she has been keeping all of her life?
Review: Debut author Jus Accardo’s personality shines through in Touch, the first novel in a new series for teens. While the storyline isn’t really anything new, the author’s writing style gives it a bit of freshness, particularly in her portrayal of Dez, a foul-mouthed, rebellious seventeen-year-old with a dangerous secret. Almost from the first pages of the book, it’s clear that Dez isn’t a typical teen heroine. She’s rash, abrasive, and more than a little obnoxious. As the story progresses, however, the reader experiences Dez maturing as she learns more about the truth of her father and his role in the sinister Denazen Corporation. Her relationship with Kale, the handsome and strong Six who managed to escape from Denazen, is enjoyable and romantic, although predictable. There are also many twists and turns in the plot, with characters switching allegiances and secrets being revealed left and right. Overall, Touch isn’t a particularly original novel, but it is entertaining and has all the elements that will appeal to many readers, especially teen girls. The sequel, Toxic, is set to be released September 11, 2012.
Genre:  Science-Fiction
Reading level: Grade 8+
Similar titles: X-Men comic series, Damage by Anya Parrish, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Tempest by Julie Cross, Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson.
Themes:  Superpowers, father/daughter relationships, conspiracy, kidnapping, romance.   
Awards/Reviews:  Positive reviews from authors Darynda Jones, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Inara Scott.
Series Information: First installment in Denazen series. Second novel, Toxic, set to be released September 11, 2012.
Discussion questions:

-         Why do you think Dez is constantly trying to “piss her father off”?

-        Why was Dez so quick to side with Kale against Denazen?

-     Do you think that Dez’s father actually loved her? Why or why not?

-      Who was your favorite character in the novel? Why?

-       Dez told Alex that she didn’t think she would ever be completely over him. Do you think it's common for people to feel that way about their "first love"? Why or why not?

-       Which plot twist surprised you the most? Why? Did you anticipate anything that happened in the novel?

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