Review: Touching Smoke, by Airicka Phoenix

Not sure if it’s the formatting, but the paragraphing had weird breaks where there shouldn’t be or walls of text instead of crisp paragraphs. This subtracted a bit from the tension because I had to re-read parts to follow who said what, and when.

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**Pro-tip: When creating .mobi files, never, ever, ever, EVER convert from a PDF to a .mobi. I’m not sure if that’s what caused these problems, but it could have. It’s just like, the worst way to create a Kindle file. It’s even worse when there are pictures involved. Fortunately, this wasn’t that bad. But always create the ePub file first, then convert, and you’ll get fewer weird paragraphing errors. And by few, I mean, pretty much none.**

Anyway, back to the review.

Some of the dialogue was quite witty. The author blends teenage sarcastic with brilliant descriptions that are well done in most places. I wished there was a little more description in certain areas. I found that when a person was described, I could visualize him or her much easier than I could the location, though the exception to this would be Isaiah’s cabin! That was well described. There were also quite a few times when I crossed out sentences and modifiers with my eyes: the writing could’ve used another pass at the editor’s desk, but the draw of the plot made up for it.

Plot: 4 wings

 

The story kept me reading right from the beginning. I was intrigued by the plot, and while Phoenix doesn’t introduce any new ideas into the YA fantasy/paranormal genre, she does a pretty good job at weaving the narrative and keeping you hooked, especially when you reach the 30% mark. There are a variety of locations (in Canada! yay!) since Fallon and Isaiah spend most of their time running away from the baddies, but near the end we get into a bit of a repetitious cycle, going back and forth between Location A and Location B.

My favorite parts were when Fallon actually got some information about her background/potential abilities. I like when science fiction is blended with fantasy. The story combining magic and scientific experimentation on humans reminded me of Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning Series. There are still some unanswered questions that I’d like to see tied up but that’s what the sequel is for.

Characters: 3.5 wings

 

Some of the supporting cast was a little one-dimensional (Maia, the Asian beauty evil butt-kicker, for example). I like my peeps to have a little more depth to them if the story permits. The Big Baddie Garrison has got a stereotypical villain thing going on he’s almost foppish! But I kind of liked him, despite his one-note character, because he (well, mostly) answered Fallon’s questions. And he has a backstory.

As for the romance, it actually showed a lot of restraint, which I was impressed with. There were tons of opportunities for conversations about “going too far” but instead these conversations are “should we even be in love” (which sounds annoying, but it is relevant to the plot). While I disagree with the protagonist’s analysis of her situation (that her love isn’t “real” for the male love interest), and despite the intriguing backstory that is revealed between the two of them, I think that Fallon’s relationship with Isaiah has a long way to go before she can really say that she does love him. And I look forward to seeing where it goes.

Also, no love triangles. YAY!

OVERALL: 4 wings

 

An enjoyable read for those who like genetic mutation stories mixed with romance, as long as you can get past the awkward paragraphing! You may want to pick up the print version instead of the eBook, if/when it is available!