Review: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch
Published April 6th 2010 by DAW
Touched by an Alien is my first encounter with science-fiction romance. Basically it’s paranormal romance, only instead of a gang of hunky vampires, we have hunky aliens.
When Kitty walks out of the courthouse on a sunny day, she doesn’t expect to see a man turn into an alien and shred his wife into pieces. Neither did she expect to kill said alien with an expensive Mont Blanc pen. Within moments she is led away by a gorgeous man in an Armani suit that claims to be part of an organisation trying to save the world from an alien invasion.
Touched by an Alien immediately hooked me. The story starts with immediate action, and it doesn’t slow down after that. It’s one long string of revelations, plot developments and snarky come-backs. Especially the snarkiness seems to be Kitty’s speciality; I liked her for saying what was on her mind with no reserve. Too many books revolve around people keeping everything a secret – no such thing with Kitty. Even though she can get a bit annoying (she really likes to refer to big bad aliens as fuglies, and she seems to be incapable of being serious), I generally liked reading from her point of view.
The book started solid for me, and I was expecting this to be a four, maybe five star read. The further along I came in the book, the more annoyed I got and the rating started dropping. We get reveal after reveal after reveal and after a while I just wanted things to STAY LIKE THEY WERE. There is only so much you can understand in a story. You can’t first give us a ton of world-building to remember, then every ten pages say “but that’s not what’s really going on!” and come up with something new. Another thing that bothered me was that ALL the revelations were made by Kitty. She helps people that have been doing their jobs for half their lives, and Miss Snappy comes in and solves everything in two days. You know, it’s fine to have someone else come up with something sometimes too.
The worst thing about Touched by an Alien for me was the religious references and the sexism/slut-shaming. Basically, a group of good aliens has been exiled from their planet because of their religion. Kitty then makes the reference of them being like the Jews and the Holocaust. HOW?! Did they get chopped to pieces? Did they get experimented on as if they were even less than animals? Were they tortured, burnt, hit, starved, and denigrated? Did they put millions of aliens in ovens or gas chambers? No? THAN IT’S NOT LIKE THE FRIGGING HOLOCAUST. I think the word Ms Koch was looking for is “diaspora”, which in this case means the shattering of the Jews across the world because they couldn’t stay in their homeland. THAT’S the correct comparison. Comparing exile with the Holocaust is offensive and not a correct representation of what actually happened, which is that in a few years, six million Jews in Europe were systematically killed. So no, leaving a few thousand aliens on a different planet is not like that.
Other than that massive blunder, the religious undertones were tiring and didn’t fit at all in my opinion. I didn’t get what point Ms Koch was trying to make, and I’m not sure I even want to know.
Sometimes Touched by an Alien is downright contradictory. At one point, a human gay man says something in the lines of “oh, the aliens don’t have the gender biases we humans do”. Meaning in this case, that it’s fine for him to have a relationship with an alien man. Then we find out that all agents in the field are male. Every single one of them. All the females are scientists and are in the base doing god knows what (we never actually see them doing anything useful). How is this not having gender bias? It annoyed me to no end that all the females except Kitty are being relegated to being breeding machines and tech peeps. Nothing wrong with being a scientist – but that’s just frigging sexist.
Also, Kitty calls herself a slut a lot during the middle part of the book – because she slept with some dudes throughout her twenty-seven years. And worst part is is that she acknowledges that it’s a social construct and that it doesn’t make any sense, yet she feels the same way and she still feels guilty for sleeping with another consenting adult.
I think Touched by an Alien is best enjoyed with your braincells turned off or at least hibernating. The story is engaging and there is some erm… alternative fighting going on (for example, dropping salt on a giant slug-alien with a plane) and there are tons of characters all trying to best each other in verbal combat. Enjoyable, but not if you look below the surface. Will probably read the second book in the series, since my biggest problem was with the religious undertones and I expect that the subsequent books probably won’t focus on that as much.
How can a sexy marketing manager join forces with an Alpha Centauri male in Armani to save the planet-using hairspray, a Mont Blanc pen, and rock n’ roll?
She’s Touched by an Alien
Marketing manager Katherine “Kitty” Katt steps into the middle of what appears to be a domestic dispute turned ugly. And it only gets uglier when the man turns into a winged monster, straight out of a grade-Z horror movie, and goes on a killing spree. Though Kitty should probably run away, she springs into action to take the monster down.
In the middle of the chaos a handsome hunk named Jeff Martini appears, sent by the “agency” to perform crowd control. He’s Kitty’s kind of guy, no matter what planet he’s from. And from now on, for Kitty, things are going to be sexy, dangerous, wild, and out of this world.
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