Series: Alien, Book 1
Rating: 4 Stars
Length: 400 Pages, 6474 Locations
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle
What...No Kitchen Sink?
When early release from jury duty set marketing manager Katherine "Kitty" Katt free to make her way back to a half day of work, she had no idea that her life was about to take a serious turn to the weird. Witnessing a minor fender bender evolve into a domestic dispute between husband and wife wasn't pleasant, but didn't exactly clue her in, either. Watching the husband in that domestic disturbance morph into a gigantic winged beast and slaughter his wife, then turn his terrifying rage and deadly abilities into a vicious and bloody spree killing started to tip her off, but it was only when she found herself leaping into action and dispatching the winged beast with a pen that she really realized her life wasn't going to be quite what she'd thought it was when her alarm went off that morning.
Forty-eight hours later and Kitty's world had expanded to include the knowledge that aliens - gorgeous ones at that - are living in our world, they're part of a world wide organization to keep a space parasite from infecting the planet, and one of the largest terrorist groups in the world is run by one of those parasite-enhanced superbeings. Her mother and father aren't who she thought they were, highly evolved aliens aren't as smart as they thought they were, and hair spray is more than just a necessity on a windy day.
Being recruited by the Alpha Centurians (A-Cs) to wage war on the parasites leads her to fight things that are indescribably disgusting, one of the uberhunky A-Cs keeps proposing marriage...and has since he first laid eyes on her...and his cousin can't stop glaring at her long enough to drop the sarcasm. Gifts like hyperspeed and empathy are common among the A-Cs, but so is religious persecution...which is actually sort of depressing for an evolved species. Oh, and speaking of religion, it's a big reason that the parasites are coming through space to our world. There's baseball...sort of, public restroom portals, and dead fish. Terrorism and guns, giant slug-like fuglies and a bad guy with a Lucifer complex. There's terror and humor, romance and science. And there's lots and lots of Armani.
If Kitty can survive past hour forty-eight, maybe there's hope for the planet, too.
Touched by an Alien is a romp. It's fast, action-packed, and with a few exceptions, it's just a right good time. True, there's not a lot of character development and there's little time given to really flesh out the world as the characters race from point A to point Z. There are some points that don't quite connect along the way, and there's a huge amount of information dumped on the readers head about the A-Cs and their abilities, about their gadgets - how they work, why they work, what doesn't work, etc. As a result the narrative occasionally reads a little like a dream sequence for a techie nerd with ADD - packed full of smart, flashy stuff without a lot of substance behind it, but shifting so quickly that you don't really notice the lack right away.
But it's fun. And it's fast. There's a little bit of everything (and I do mean everything...except that darned kitchen sink) in it. And Kitty is a likable heroine, even though she tends to be a bit too adept at kicking alien butt for a mild mannered marketing manager. Despite her being so smart in some ways, so obtuse in others. Despite her being a bit of a slut (though I can't really say I blame her for that one). And even though she's a crack shot despite never shooting a gun before, and put in command of a team of aliens she didn't know existed two days prior for a sortie that is her brainchild. With their technology and their weaponry at her disposal.
Hey, it's her hairspray. Seems a fair trade off.
I didn't like the significance and importance of religion in the plot. That's just how I am. I like to keep science fiction and religion separate, because the idea that evolved civilizations still suffer from religious persecution and exile because of it doesn't bode well for the future of our own race. Plus, I'm a live and let live sort, so I tend to buck the sort of rigid religious framework that the A-Cs embrace. From a story standpoint, too, those were the weakest threads of the plot and where the suspension of disbelief stretched a bit too thin for me. I just couldn't figure out any reason for Kitty being so good at connecting a lot of esoteric dots and coming up with such bizarre - but of course, accurate - answers.
Still, as a whole, the book was a real good time.
And I don't generally favor science fiction, either.
Parts of Touched by an Alien did make my brain hurt, when I felt stuffed with technology mumbo jumbo that I couldn't care less about, and the character definition truly had nothing much about which to wax philosophic. The narrative has a short sentence/rapid fire style that lacked fluidity, and it was short on description, so I never had a clear picture of any of the characters actual physical appearance (behind their gorgeousness - that I knew...as it was oft repeated), nor the scenery surrounding them. From that perspective, there was an almost superficial feel to both the characters and the world created here. It didn't feel real, or achieve a sense of shifted reality like some of the great science fiction masters achieve.
Eh, who cares? It was a rockin' good time, for the most part, and I enjoyed myself while I was reading it. Some SciFi brain candy for your reading enjoyment. Yum.