Monday, June 14, 2010

Touched by an Alien HBIC Review

Title: Touched by an Alien
Author: Gini Koch
Page Count: 389 pages
Publisher: DAW
Genre: science fiction, paranormal romance
Copy for review was from my personal library

50 words or less: Who knew that stabbing a raging lunatic with a pen would turn Katherine Katt's life upside down? Now instead of being a marketing manager, she's a member of a secret task force charged with preventing a hostile takeover by alien parasites. Then there's the matter of Jeff...

What a fun book! I'm a sucker for a good hybrid between science fiction and romance, and this certainly fits the bill. While certainly a bit goofy at times and definitely not for people who need their science fiction to be serious and stiff upper lip at all times, this book grabbed my attention and kept my interest until the last word.

Katherine "Kitty" Katt (yes, her parents thought that was hilarious) was just finishing up her day of jury duty when all hell broke loose in front of the court house. In the middle of what appears to be a domestic dispute that's gone completely out of control, she's able to kill the offender, who clearly to her is not human, and save countless people in the process. Her weapon of choice: A Mont Blanc pen. Go figure.

Immediately her life is turned upside down: she's carted off by a small battalion of male model look-alikes, informed that she is now being recruited as an agent for an organization in charge of protecting earth from an invasion of alien parasites intent on remaking this world (and every other one for that matter) in their image, and oh yeah, now they know who she is, so they're probably gunning for her family too.

Add to the mix one Mr. Jeff Martini, superhunk extraordinaire who's immediately smitten with Kitty and has no problem expressing this to anyone and everyone who will listen. Kitty doesn't mind all that much, although that gets her into a lot of trouble with Christopher, one of Jeff's fellow aliens and agents, who seems to delight in harassing Kitty at every turn. Kitty thinks Christopher is annoying; everyone else sees his behavior and attention for what it is and tries to warn Kitty about the situation. Tension ensues in spades, especially when Kitty realizes that Jeff's feelings are the real deal, and his skills and abilities as an empath have implications that she had never even considered.

If it sounds like I just described the plot and characters of a bunch of other different books and movies, I kind of did. Science fiction remixes ideas constantly, and this book is no exception. What makes this book unique and fun, though, is how effortlessly the hat is tipped to other works while simultaneously incorporating new elements that keep the story fresh. The secret pseudo-government agency in charge of saving the world from alien invasion is all well and good, except most of the staffers of said agency are aliens themselves. There are a ton of really strong barriers against Kitty and Jeff being able to be together, but they're religious in nature, instead of some weird Barbarella sexually bizzarro fest.

I also enjoyed how family played such a prominent role, both for Kitty and for Jeff. All too often in paranormal romance you find that the main characters sort of exist in a vacuum when it comes to family- either everyone is long dead or missing or just uninvolved. That's not the case here- Kitty's family in particular is very hands-on and she finds out a lot she didn't know about them in the process as well.

The tone of this story was flip and fun, with just enough snark to be amusing but with enough emotion to be genuine. One downside to Jeff's incredible talents as an empath is that he does tend to launch into Mr. Sensitive territory rather easily; this makes for a tough row to hoe when it comes to sorting out whether Kitty wants to be with him or someone else. We as the reader know full well what Kitty's feelings are, but in spite of his skills as an empath, Jeff doesn't. This situation gets a brief mention in passing at the end of the book and I'm excited to see what happens with this in future novels. The next book comes out in December, and I'm going to have a hard time waiting. I sense an early Christmas present coming on!

Overall Grade: A
Blog with Bite Rating: 4/4

Also, how could I possibly review this book without including my favorite Men in Black scene ever? I don't know either.

Discussion Questions
1. When dealing with aliens, what do you think is more likely: the scary, super-smart, totally different species entirely aliens? Or the pretty-much just like humans, easy to relate to, here to save Earth aliens? One of the most appealing things to me about the whole extraterrestrials thing is that they could exist in any combination of traits we could put together. Who's to say we can't have all of the above and then some?

2. Did you think it was convenient that Kitty's parents were so accepting of the aliens and that they both had "secret" jobs? This element actually worked well for me in the context of the story- it was refreshing, not only for Kitty's family to be so involved throughout the story, but for them to be quite capable of taking care of themselves. All too often it seems like the heroine has to rescue a loved one who's been tied to the train tracks by Snidely Whiplash, so to speak, so it was nice to see that her mom could kick ass and take names and her dad was intellectually the equal of anyone else in the story.

3. Did it seem that Kitty's sex life actually helped focus her and make better decisions and conclusions? I think Kitty's sex life might have helped her make more meaningful connections, but I think she had a very good grasp of the situation and was able to think quickly on her feet and also to put facts together and draw conclusions quickly and efficiently. I get tired of characters having to have the facts of the story spoon fed to them and it was nice to have someone who could keep up and wasn't a nimrod for a change. Bravo!

4. Which one? Jeff or Christopher? Why? Jeff. A guy who can make me laugh beats serious any day of the week. Done and done. I mean, Christopher is a nice guy and all that but Jeff was there first.

5. The parasites had a very strange and grossly exaggerated form when they manifested. Do you think this was a little over the top, or just totally kick butt and you would love to take on a giant slug? If I had a giant container of salt, I would take on a giant slug. Otherwise I would trap it under a giant mason jar and squash it with a giant shoe. And squee like a little girl the whole time.


Anonymous said...


ParaJunkee said...

ALkjfoiua sfalskdfjoiu' asldkfuoudf adlk ldkfasoiu YO! oiuoiav oudoif. That was me in alien saying that review made me laugh. Keeping people on their toes. So big mason jars, first one to the chick gets her, toes and rows? That is one of my fav scens if MIB. LOL. My sides hurt.

Me I'm a sucker for scowling and pissy behavior. Which is why I'm constantly griping at my hubby... "your so moody." I see the light now.

Anonymous said...

You crack me up with those youtube vids....seriously your hilarous...:D

Emily said...

Rachel- I just think Christopher forgot bros before hos. I think it was pretty obvious that Kitty and Jeff had made their choices and he needed to respect that.

Tina- Thank you ma'am! :D

ParaJunkee said...

Bros before hos huh? I think it all might boil down together and they end up in a happy polygamous family unit. They didn't discuss family patterns of aliens much...wait I betcha it's going to be revealed later. LOL You know those scifi books love to tear down traditional family values.

I think it was either Arthur C. Clark or Robert A. Heinlein where I first read a story-line in which the pro was in a group family unit.

Anonymous said...

Parajunkie - Heinlein is all about the group love.

This review was awesome and I tend to agree. I crammed this book in one day because I can make procrastination look like an Olympic sport. It was fun and the whole pushy Jeff had me giggling. Got to love how he threw down the "Mine" flag about 30 seconds into the book. I tend to like the broody and pissy type as well, hense my wonderful Shug.

Emily said...

Rachel- Mmmm......nope! Christopher still didn't do it for me. I seem to be in the minority on this one though.

LilyofDarkness- Thanks! :D

Anonymous said...

You guys are crackn me up....bros before hos...Ive got to use that one....:D Rachel I think your right its all going to be a huge BIG LOVE rip-off