- Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: DAW; Original edition (April 6, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0756406005
- ISBN-13: 978-0756406004
- Target group: adult women. I can’t imagine a guy reading it but perhaps my imagination is somewhat limited.
- Genre: sci-fi/paranormal romance
Touched By An Alien is my first introduction to the Science Fiction Romance genre and the first book featured in my Summer Chicklit Reviews.
When Katherine “Kitty” Katt, a mid-level marketing manager, finds herself free after only a half-day of jury duty, the trouble finds her instantly too. An innocent fender-bender turns into an attrocious attack - one driver mutates into a winged monster straight from your worst nightmares (called a “superbeing” in the book) and he is attacking a woman and everything around. Kitty, without any second thought, takes him down with her trusty, expensive Mont Blanc pen.
Then she is swept into a secret community of Armani-clad, super-fast Alpha-Centaurian agents (all-male and drop-dead gorgeous). They are fighting a parasitic alien menace. The parasites can turn some chosen emotional humans into a variety of horrifying creatures. Kitty is taken to a secret installation deep below New Mexico, where she discovers, among other things, that yes, aliens did land on the Earth and her parents have been leading far more exciting lives than she had ever imagined. These agents want to recruit her to help them track a particularly powerful and dangerous superbeing who has taken over the mind of a terrorist leader. Saving America, the planet and, possibly, a universe. Who would reject such an opportunity?
Kitty starts to cooperate with notably talented although incredibly cocky agent, Jeff Martini. One of the first statements out of Martini's mouth upon meeting Kitty is "will you marry me?" Well, the problem is he also has a cousin who immediately dislikes Kitty for a reason or two. Will they be able to save the Earth from the parasites being so…er…emotionally occupied if not tangled?
What I liked:
The sense of humour is a very big advantage of this novel. Without it the book would be close to unpalatable. Koch's style is funny and lighthearted - I found myself laughing out loud pretty often.
Kitty's ingenuity in the action scenes was entertaining; killing her first alien creature with her Mont Blanc pen was reminding me of a scene from “Indiana Jones” movie (pen is mighter than a sword, right dr. Jones?) and spraying the big baddie in the face with extra hold hairspray was something even funnier. There were just enough believable reactions to the crazy situation Kitty found herself in to make her a bit relatable.
The world-building was thorough and intriguing to read about. Advanced transportation technology being hidden in the stalls of men's restrooms at airports made me howl with laughter – another fresh idea.
Finally I loved the fact that the A-C scientists were all women, and they were hardly interested in other Alpha Centaurian men, preferring very smart human men and could care less about looks.
Ms. Koch sets up the romance right from the beginning, which I wasn't sure I could swallow. Ok, undoubtedly there are people who go to bed after 12 hours (or less) of meeting each other for the first time but honestly, does it bring them any good? I didn't care for the fact that our sweet Kitty was rolling around in the sheets with Jeff within 12 hours of meeting him and while doing so the word "condom" wasn't even mentioned let, alone used. I wish the author added a tiny bit of edutainment though. I know from my personal experience that there are plenty of teen girls who, no matter how stupid or pathetic it might sound, will form their ideas about sex reading such books so a minute of responsibility would come in useful.
The other thing I didn't like was Kitty's elevator time with Christopher. To me, it made our heroine appear weak, shallow and disrespectful – almost sluttish. I think it wasn't the intention of the author. Kitty was made to atone for it, sure, but still it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the series. If I were her boyfriend I would shop for the newest version of a chastity belt.
Well, as it is summer and I promised myself being indulged toward chicklit let me only say Ms. Koch did not hold back with the smex scenes and they were Love In An Elevator Almost No Holds Barred steamy. If you like such scenes you can feast upon them here. It is not necessary a drawback, rather a matter of taste.
What I didn’t like:
First the title is a bit cheesy and so is the cover. I would never pick this book not hearing/reading anything about it previously.
Now a real drawback - the Love Triangle. Yeah…I hate them more and more and here we get it from the very beginning. It seemed superfluous to say the least of it.
Jeff and Chris are supposedly instantly in love with Kitty at first sight, and willing to throw away their life-long friendship to fight each other to the death over her. Riiiiiiiiiight. Chris "woos" her by being a jerk to her, Jeff talks constantly about marriage and children although he is fully aware of certain facts which might prevent him to wed Kitty and he keeps them secret, sly dog…guess who gets into her pants quicker?
Now the plot. With a sci-fi book you should expect some degree of outlandishness but there were too many of coincidences and leaps of logic wrapped in mysterious, prophetic happenings. Well, either you accept it or you ditch the book. What's more? Some of the fight scenes were especially ridiculous. For example the idea that our protagonist, who is white, single, female and a marketing manager for goodness’ sake, can fly a fighter jet while getting instructions over the radio from a pilot stretched it definitely too far for me. People, gifted people mind you, spend YEARS to learn such skills.
By the way, the narration could have been better-spaced either. At least half of the book consists of characters sitting around, telling each other about different things. Talking heads are boring, and here we get about 100 pages of talking heads. On the other hand some issues should have been explained and they weren’t. For example the heroine is supposed to be Jewish but she talks a lot about the Bible (and not the Torah). The A-C aliens are supposedly religious refugees from their world, but their beliefs are never clearly precised. Perhaps the next installment will amend it. The supporting characters are pretty one-dimensional but honestly, with the B-movie vibe of the book you shouldn’t expect anything else.
Finally here's also the issue of the aliens living on Earth coming from a planet with double suns, and having very different physiology (two hearts?) AND STILL having no problems at all living on Earth. Adaptation to the extreme…
Overall, surprisingly, I rather enjoyed this book. If you're looking for a beach read - something fun, quick and devoid of vampires and werewolves, then this might be the right story. Don’t dwell too much on different plot holes and incongruities, though.