Touch (Denazen #1) by Jus Accardo
November 1, 2011
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I understand now, Dez,” he whispered sleepily. “I understand the hand thing.”
Deznee Cross is an adrenaline junkie. When she comes across a mysterious boy hiding in the woods, the only thing she can think of is what a rush it will be when her dad sees him and flips out. Only Dez miscalculates her dad’s reaction when he already seems to know who Kyle is and attempts to shoot him. Dez and Kale escape only to find themselves chased by a group of men bent on capturing and returning Kale to where he came from. Kale explains to Dez about the Denazen Corporation and her father’s work for them. According to Kyle, the corporation is nothing more then a breeding program for genetically enhanced teenagers, called Sixes, who are used in covert operations. Kale escaped with the hopes of finding the only other Six who ever got away from Denazen. Kale is especially valuable to Denazen because of his power-death by touch. Dez uses her contacts to verify Kyle’s story and soon finds herself embroiled in a war that will pit her against her own father.
Touch is cross between X-Men and and the tv show Heroes. A fast paced somewhat erratic YA fantasy that takes our heroine, Deznee Cross, on a journey into the deadly world of genetic manipulation. The world building is straight forward and simple with an undercurrent of excitement that is appealing. Ms. Accardo does a fine job of setting up the main conflict and heightening the experience with additional sub plots and characters. Deception and betrayal are the main themes of the story and they are plentiful. As with any YA, this is a story of firsts. Even though we read and think to ourselves, “I knew that would happen,” we need to remember that our experiences and age has taught us the watch for and anticipate the pitfalls life has to offer. They are beginning at a point we have all since passed. Filled with challenges and obstacles to overcome, I found myself cheering and cussing in the same breathe. The dialogue is realistic; Ms. Accardo has a great voice and it translate well in the telling of the story.
Deznee Cross is portrayed nicely as a 17 year old teenager. She stands on the threshold of adulthood yet has her moments that reminds you of her age. I found her personality enjoyable with her straightforwardness and enthusiasm for life. She knows what she wants and goes after it with a vengeance. Used to being on her own, her father is nothing more then a presence in her life, she has no problem handling what comes at her.
Kale was adorable with his mixture of worldliness and naiveté. He knows a dozen ways to track and kill a man yet the simplest things like dvds, pictures, and other everyday items fill him with wide eyed wonder. Kale’s experiences in discovering all he’s missed in the outside world translates wonderfully from paper to your heart. You can feel his joy. His sense of honor and loyalty is unquestionable.
The romance is quite steamy for a YA. The chemistry between Dez and Kale leaps off the pages and leaves you remembering the excitement and thrill of your first potentially serious relationship. Inexperienced men seems to be the soup du jour this season and Ms. Accardo exploits that in here with the innocent Kale and the more experienced Dez. There is a small love triangle in here but I never really took Kale’s opponent to seriously. I did feel that at times the romance angle-not just with Dez and Kale-seemed to over take the main conflict at times. Dez seems to be a very popular girl and too often that was the reason given for some of the betrayals that are uncovered.
Vibrant and interesting secondary characters give the story line depth and add to the overall frantic feel of the story. I do wish there had been more girls added to the mix though. Perhaps in later books. I understand why, Dez’s personality and chosen “hobbies” are more guy oriented, but still…more girls would have given more balance. There is plenty of ribald humor to off set the seriousness at times and to remind us-these are teenagers. I loved the different sets of “powers” that are revealed.
A sticking point with me was the constant bombardment of obstacles Dez and Kale are forced to face. You get to a point where you ready for everything to calm down and allow for some breathing room. At times I did wish Dez wasn’t so trusting or would listen to her instincts more. Some of the problems she encounters could have been avoided had she just paid more attention. I enjoyed her adrenalin junkie persona but as I stated earlier, at times it becomes overwhelming and your ready for a less action and more emotional connections. I also think that more female characters would have balanced the story more.
The ending is climatic as all the subplots unite in one final showdown. Ms. Accardo leaves just enough open to allow us to slide into the next in the series, which is to be announced. YA aficionados will certainly enjoy this new author’s debut fantasy novel that promises a exciting adventure. I look forward to reading more about the Denazen Corp and the Sixes. While this is listed as a YA, the sexual content and scenes of violence and drugs has it teetering on the edge between teen YA and young adult.