Saturday, 3 March 2018

Stray, Lab Rat One & Caszandra: the Touchstone trilogy

While I was ill I raced through the Touchstone trilogy by Angela K Höst. I was totally captivated and recommend them to you this week. Here are the covers, blurbs and my reviews.

Stray

On her last day of high school, Cassandra Devlin walked out of exams and into a forest. Surrounded by the wrong sort of trees, and animals never featured in any nature documentary, Cass is only sure of one thing: alone, she will be lucky to survive.

The sprawl of abandoned blockish buildings Cass discovers offers her only more puzzles. Where are the people? What is the intoxicating mist which drifts off the buildings in the moonlight? And why does she feel like she's being watched?

Increasingly unnerved, Cass is overjoyed at the arrival of the formidable Setari. Whisked to a world as technologically advanced as the first was primitive, where nanotech computers are grown inside people's skulls, and few have any interest in venturing outside the enormous whitestone cities, Cass finds herself processed as a 'stray', a refugee displaced by the gates torn between worlds. Struggling with an unfamiliar language and culture, she must adapt to virtual classrooms, friends who can teleport, and the ingrained attitude that strays are backward and slow.

Can Cass ever find her way home? And after the people of her new world discover her unexpected value, will they be willing to let her leave?

My review

If I were to explain the Ena to you, you would call the idea completely bonkers. Yet when you're reading this book it makes perfect sense. The world building is a triumph and the characters so real that you become involved in their lives and really care about them. Cass finds herself on a different planet and has to work out how to survive. With no one to talk to, she keeps a diary, and that is what this book is: her diary. It really works. I went straight away and bought books 2 & 3. Loved it.

Lab Rat One

In the months since Cassandra Devlin walked off Earth onto another planet, she has grappled with everything from making blankets to helping psychics battle the memories of monsters. Not able to find a way home, she has instead gained friends and a purpose. Unfortunately, that purpose brings with it the pressure of being more than a little valuable, and those she has befriended are also her guards, ordered to explore and control her abilities to find out just what it is a touchstone can do.

Test subject was not the career path Cass had been planning.

With no privacy, too-frequent injuries, and the painful knowledge that she must always be an assignment to her Setari companions, Cass can only wish for some semblance of normality and control. And as her abilities become more and more dangerous, tests and training may be the only thing capable of protecting Cass from herself.

My review

Book 2 worked just as well. The diary format gets you right inside her head as she tries to work out how she fits into this new world. The writing makes everything feel real and I was with her all the way.

Caszandra

Cassandra Devlin doesn’t know what she's for. But she knows she's running out of time.

Since Cass was rescued from the abandoned world of Muina, the Aussie teen has proven more than useful to the people of Tare. Expeditions to their home world no longer end in slaughter. The teaching city of Kalasa has been unlocked. After years of searching for answers, they are starting to make progress.

But space is tearing itself apart. Ionoth attack in ever-greater numbers. And "the useful stray" has been injured so many times that the Tarens hesitate to use her for fear of losing her.

With one particular Taren now her most important person, Cass is determined to contribute everything she can - and hopes to find some answers of her own. What is the link between Muina and Earth? Why are the reclusive Nurans so interested in 'rescuing' her? And what role in the crisis do the inhuman Cruzatch play?

Can Cass keep herself together long enough to find out?

My review

What a wonderful conclusion to the trilogy. Just as enthralling as the previous books, I couldn't put it down. The writing is so good it draws you right into the story. I was quite sad to finish. Read the whole set, you'll love it. Highly recommended.

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz

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