The cover originally attracted me to this book. Artistically, it’s well done. And it features a couple of good-looking people making out while holding guns in front of an explosion.
How could I resist that?
Now that I think about it, “good looking people making out while holding guns in front of explosions” pretty much sums up Touched By An Alien. It’s the book version of a B-movie, one that stars Bruce Campbell and that enjoys being campy and silly and as over-the-top as it possibly can be. It was definitely a fun read, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have issues that made me a little twitchy. I’ll start with the good stuff.
Koch’s writing is funny and lighthearted, and I found myself laughing out loud pretty often. The major characters, from protagonist Katherine “Kitty” Katt to ridiculously gorgeous alien special agent Jeff Martini to Kitty’s parents, were all pretty well-developed, and for the most part, their motivations were understandable and in Jeff’s case, quite sympathetic. Christopher, ridiculously gorgeous alien special agent #2, ranked quite a bit lower on my likability scale mainly because he spends most of the book being a jealous asshole. The supporting characters are pretty one-dimensional–the super-smart, super-sexy female aliens, in particular, irritated me–but honestly, with the B-movie vibe of the book, I didn’t expect a bunch of well-rounded characters.
A major plus for this book: the love scenes were SMOKING hot. Smoking.
Kitty’s ingenuity in the action scenes was pretty entertaining; killing her first alien superbeing creature with her Mont Blanc pen was a fun surprise, as was her creative idea to spray the big baddie in the face with extra hold hairspray. Her off-the-cuff weaponry is fun, but it also leads to one of my major problems with the book.
I just couldn’t engage my implausibility shielding mechanism for the whole thing. I’m pretty easy when it comes to buying into storylines that are unrealistic. That’s pretty much part and parcel of being a science fiction and fantasy fan. But some of the fight scenes in Touched By An Alien took it juuuust a bit past the level that I can buy into. The idea that our protagonist, a marketing manager, can fly a fighter jet while getting instructions over the radio from a pilot stretched it juuuust a bit too far for me. There were some conveniently deus-ex-machina solutions, and some of the action scenes stretched on too far. I was impatient for the big SUV battle to be over.
The book also suffers from major infodump overload. Seriously, at least half of the book consists of characters sitting around, telling each other about how the aliens got to Earth and what’s going on with the crazy parasite superbeings. I hate infodumps, and while the reader does need a lot of information to understand fully what’s going on in this crazy world, I feel like there had to have been a better way to get that info across without resorting to a hundred pages of talking heads.
Now that the world is established, I’m hoping that subsequent books in the series will move a bit more smoothly. And despite the narrative problems in this one, I did enjoy it for the most part. I’m looking forward to book two, and I hope Ms. Koch improves on her creative, funny creation.