Summer review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

It’s practically the summer so I decided to start Summer Chicklit Reviews on my blog. They will feature books which are perhaps not profound or brilliant or especially intellectual but are ideal for a day out on a beach or in a park, a garden or on your balcony – quick to read, amusing and light. I promise to be indulgent but of course  if I don’t like anything I will write about it.

Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch is the first – enjoy!

  • 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

Synopsis:

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 a 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 one of the “Indiana Jones” movies (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.

Titillating factor:

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 indulgent 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). Why? 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…

Final verdict:

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.

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11 Responses to Summer review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

  1. Blodeuedd says:

    Yay you did enjoy it in the end 😀 And yes I do know about those faults and love it anyway. I am not a fan of triangles but what the heck they are aliens ;=)Hm…perhaps she feels only half Jewish? Never did think about that.Still you liked it! *does happy dance*

  2. anachronist says:

    *evil laugh* surprise surprise! I am doing chicklit reviews this summer! Yes, if a book charms me with a good sense of humour I am able to appreciate even a romance!And I like seeing you dancing on my blog – it rarely happens!

  3. No condoms? I am wondering what space venereal disease would be like. Course they never figure in these stories but it could be funny.

  4. anachronist says:

    It could be extremely funny but somehow the author didn't think of it. Pity! It might have been connected with you turning into a superbeing 😉

  5. Seriously, I wonder if you know how hard I'm laughing right now?! Touched by an Alien, that title is horrible. However, the synopsis is slightly intriguing. It's been awhile since I've read true korniness. I'm devilishly intrigued on some ulterior level. This review was awesome. I'm glad you talked about the funny in the book because I like to see how the author writes. Those were excellent examples. But, I'm still giggling like a little school girl over the title and the synopsis. I truly wonder how authors come up with this stuff!Also, I do not like love triangles either. They don't make sense half the time. She should have turned it into a threesome instead. I mean, it was a romance. (I'm still giggling):DJenIn the Closet With a Bibliophile

  6. anachronist says:

    Jen nice to see you here and now I am giggling like mad myself – a threesome might be in stock for the next part of this series which I am going to read and review! Some authors have simply an alien mind and they come up with an alien stuff!

  7. Tracy says:

    Sounds like light-hearted fun – so definitely not my cup of tea 🙂 . I just cannot read chicklit – even if I'm stuck on a six-hour train journey with nothing else to read, I couldn't read it. I know, I'm a snob.

  8. Lena says:

    Great in depth review. I don't much care for the title or the cover. I wouldn't pick this up in the bookstore. But your review makes it seem quite intriguing. I too dislike it when characters do things that seem well, out of character…like risking your long time friend for a girl you just met. Hmmm… still on the fence with this one. Great review though, honest and straightforward as always. 🙂

  9. anachronist says:

    Tracy I know you are definitely more high-brow than me and I don't think you should force yourself to read any chicklit. I, however, am an omnivore. Kind of compulsion. I see a book I read it and there are just few exceptions.Lena *blush* thanks for your kind words. The best way of getting off the fence is to read a given book yourself. I wasn't sure about this one either but it is summer so you might get a bit foolish and try new things and I decided to give it a chance.

  10. You know that sometimes plot holes in romances are part of the fun, right? I mean… reality just doesn't apply! We read them to escape reality, not indulge in it. ;)Hm… so what kind of books do you still yet need to get into? *evil laugh*

  11. anachronist says:

    Sure, the reality doesn't apply and some plot holes are more acceptable than others but there are some limits what a given reader can or cannot accept.Hm… so what kind of books do you still yet need to get into? *evil laugh*You know I find your evil laugh rather suggestive…;)

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