After I read and reviewed Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August I was excited to delve into some of her other works. In the back of Harry August was a teaser first chapter of Touch, which of course, I read and then promptly ordered the whole book into my local library, because I was very interested. North, after this second novel, seems to dream up the strangest but most interesting scenarios and this again is one I definitely enjoyed. Beware spoilers!
Blurb / Summary
Kepler is like you, but not like you.
With a simple touch, Kepler can move into any body, live any life – for a moment, a day or for years.
And your life could be next.
Some people touch lives. Others take them. I do both.
- The premise for this book is so interesting. I’m really impressed with Claire North and her ability to come up with most fascinating worlds. Because rightfully this premise is scary as hell. After Harry August and this, I’m really looking forward to her next novel The Sudden Appearance of Hope – about a girl who is forgotten by everyone once their backs are turned. See what I mean by interesting stories?
- I thought this book was easier to follow than her last one. I don’t know if that was because I was coming off the back of Harry August when I read this, or because she’d gotten better at tying the story together, but I found it much easier to keep up with the changing pace.
- The way the author describes the locations and cities that Kepler visits is so good. She has a unique way of setting the picture and making you feel the atmosphere of the surroundings as well as the mental image.
- I really liked the technique of jumping to another page line every time Kepler changed bodies, the jolt in reading and the mental pause it inevitably creates really emphasised the sudden disorienting shift between hosts each time. I thought it was pretty clever!
- As much as I could keep up with the constantly changing story pace, it still didn’t make it less jarring or deflating when action and suspense are interjected with a three-page aside chapter about something that happened to Kepler in the 1800’s. I understand that those things are important when explaining the motivations of our main character, but right in the middle of the page-turner bits? It really takes the wind out of the speed-reading-to-find-out-what-happens-next sails.
- Speaking of three-page aside chapters – I see that the book needs to separate the action/current plot vs backstory flashbacks, but the teeny-tiny (literally a single page in some cases) chapters just got annoying. I don’t really think a 432 page book needs a million chapters.
- The relationship between Kepler and Coyle seems like it’s supposed to be a big part of the story, but I don’t feel like we got enough of it for it to mean what it did. What we got was good, but it could have been played out more!
Although I mentioned it in The Bad bits, I did really like the Kepler/Coyle interplay. I’m a sucker for witty dialogue and interplay between frenemies. I just wish there had been more of it.
“There is no loneliness more lonely than to be alone in a crowd. No awkwardness more unsettling than the inside joke you do not comprehend.”
Out of Ten:
Seven. As much as I liked the premise and interesting nature of the lead and enjoyed the reading of it, I felt like the ending was suddenly there and done, and that all the characters besides Kepler could have a bit more to them.
I really liked this book, despite it’s ridiculously sized chapters. The idea is interesting and then throughout the book you realise it’s horrifying. About half way through I found myself questioning why I was rooting for our main character. I mean, realistically, Aquarius is right. Ghosts – including Kepler – are stealing lives from people. The idea of being touched by someone and then waking from a blackout seconds/minutes/days/months or even years later, with no memories of the time, or the idea of something inhabiting your body and using it for its own purposes without your knowledge or consent is rightfully terrifying. How terrifying to one second be twenty, the next fifty, surrounded by a family you don’t remember creating, your whole life stolen. So why do we root for Kepler? Because it tries to be good to it’s hosts? Because it’s trying to take down an even bigger scary thing? Or just because we’re along for the ride with it? I could go on, but I won’t. The ambiguity of the “hero” is just so interesting to consider.
Summarising on the whole, I really enjoyed the creepy idea and execution and the slightly non-linear storytelling, though secondary characters could do with a little more to them Also too many tiny chapters. That just annoyed me.