The Premise: Walking back to her car in Pueblo Caliente, Arizona after a long day of jury duty, Katherine Katt witnesses an unbelievable event. She watches as a man who was raging at his wife after a traffic accident, suddenly change into a terrifying monster. People are screaming and running, except Kitty, who immediately springs into action to kill him. Shortly thereafter, she’s surrounded by good-looking Men-in-Black-Armani, who want Kitty to join their organization. It doesn’t take long for Kitty to figure out what’s going on, using her smarts to read between the lines and figure out what this organization really is (and what it has been doing wrong). In the meantime, handsome agent Jeff Martini makes it clear he’s pursuing her, but it’s hate-at-first sight (or is it?) from his cousin Christopher.
My Thoughts: I think that the cover and the title for this book are perfect. They both convey the outlandish premise, the action, and the romance to be found inside. I’m really pleased that they are an ideal match for the story. It feels good to have expectations because of a cover, and then for the story to deliver on them.
I think that many people would compare this to the Men In Black movies because of the similarities in the humor, aliens, and action, but I’d call it “Men in Black from the point of view of the woman who saves everybody”. It’s a refreshingly original story despite the this inevitable comparison however. Kitty’s voice is unique in this genre – very fresh and irreverent without becoming irritatingly so. It has a light urban fantasy feel because of this voice, and I would say that Touched by an Alien is to science fiction as Lisa Shearin’s Raine Benares series (complete with hunky men everywhere).
From the get-go this book doesn’t take itself seriously. The world building shows the reader glimpses of ideas from comic books and movies, pop culture and history, but it’s a chaotic mix which isn’t really hard science. It’s enjoyable if you just take the idea of alien parasites flying through space, attracted to people with volatile emotions, and the Alpha Centurians who have come to Earth to help defend it at face value. Think about it too much and you’ll probably find holes. I think for the most part I was able to just read and enjoy what I read.
Kitty is likable in that she’s a heroine who thinks very well on her feet and doesn’t let people tell her she can’t do something. She goes for things without fear which had me cheering for her from the very beginning. When she first took the information from the Men-in-Black and figured out things they weren’t telling her, I was impressed. Her conversations where she explains her brilliant deductions along with the many question and answer sessions she shares with other characters is a way to convey information to the reader. It becomes an integral part of her personality, but when she kept doing this throughout the book, it felt like a technique that wore a bit thin for me, but I didn’t see anyone else comment on this, so perhaps it’s a personal preference. It also made things I found obvious but which Kitty hadn’t realized yet really glaring. At 389 pages, this book is a bit longer than the usual 300 or so, and there’s a lot of information and explanation of the aliens along with the breakneck action as Kitty and her agency fight the manifestations of Superbeings out to destroy them.
Kitty’s smarts didn’t come out of thin air – so when her mom and dad show up in the picture, it’s funny to see them make the same deductions that Kitty does. And then there’s of course the people of the secret agency. Jeff and Christopher are the two who have the biggest parts of the plot, as the leaders of their particular divisions and in their complicated relationships with each other and with Kitty. I found a lot of the characters at the agency likable – most of them are nice and brave and smart, but since this is mostly a lighthearted story, the good guys are good, and the bad guys are very evil.
The romance in this book is mostly straightforward (there’s a bump along the way), and runs as a secondary story parallel to the main action. There are sex scenes that surprised me (in both timing and execution)!
Overall: This is a story that’s fun and flippant without crossing into campy or annoying. I’d recommend if you enjoy light science fiction, romance, and quick-thinking heroines with a irreverent voice. If you enjoy Lisa Shearin’s Raine Benares series I think you would like this one too, as both books have a heroine with a fresh, first person point of view, in a genre that usually doesn’t have that. I had a good time reading this, and plan to get the next book: Alien Tango (which has another awesome cover!) when it comes out in December.