I actually had to double check that this book was by Maria V. Snyder because, uhm, what happened to her writing? I adore her first novel, Poison Study, though I adored its sequels slightly less, and while I haven't read the Glass series or the Insider duo, I was looking forward to this one. I just don't understand what happened! The book was a sloppy mess, and Snyder's writing seems to have de-matured between Poison Study and Touch of Power. Touch of Power just seemed like a slapdash collection of plot elements, including:
-flower that may or may not be able to kill you
-eleven types of magic, many of which seem to contradict each other and none of which are properly explained
-a religious cult
-fifteen realms, one of which randomly has a president that is very out of place
-way too many caves
-a plague that kills anyone who tries to cure it
-a missing sibling
-a romance that doesn't really ring true
So. While I liked how healing magic works in Touch of Power, with a healer assuming an injured/sick person's maladies and then healing herself by just getting better ten times faster than a normal person would, that was pretty much the only good part of this book. Everything else just feels like Snyder cobbled together a bunch of different story lines, any one of which would have made a respectable novel of its own. It just felt like this wasn't actually the novel Snyder wanted to write. I couldn't decide if she wanted to write a zombie novel, a school story about the children of powerful/royal families, a book about a plague-ravaged land, a tale of rescuing a lost sibling, a narrative of struggle about coming to terms with a hated power, or a chronicle of trying to bring down an evil king. All of those were present here, and it was just too much. Not a single aspect was explored fully, leaving the book a hurried rush from one plot element to the next without anything actually being settled.
Additionally, every single one of the characters in this book lacks dimension. They are all single-faceted, which makes their "growth" come across as false, especially Kerrick. What was up with that sudden romance? While it's not insta-romance in the sense that they fall in love right away, when it does happen, it's pretty instantaneous, with no build or maturation of the relationship at all. And while Avry is a perfectly nice protagonist, she isn't someone you can really root for, because she's not really struggling. She's just kind of there. We're just supposed to accept that Avry is Special, and that is why everything goes right for her.
Speaking of that, what was with that ending? I have NEVER seen a more blatant cop out on explanation. NEV. ER.
Overall, while I'm kind of curious as to what Avry &. Co. will get up to next, I'm not curious enough to slog through another of these when there's much better stuff out there.
1.5 stars out of 5.