BOOK: Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch (2010)

After I recently read and happily snarked my way through the supremely cheesy sci-fi romance, Steamed (Katie McAlister), my friend Steve the Bookseller has had his eye out for more garbage with which to entertain me.  When a proof copy of this one turned up at his shop the other day, he grabbed it for me.   And how could he resist?  I mean, the title alone screams “DELICIOUS CRAPPY GOODNESS,” doesn’t it?   Touched by an Alien?  That has GOT to be terrible.  Delightfully terrible.  Among the most delightfully terrible crap of all time.

Imagine my surprise and disappointment, then, when I cracked it open, got about a hundred pages in, and realized, hey, this book doesn’t suck.  Not at all, in fact!  What a rip!

Now, don’t get too excited, people.  When I say it doesn’t suck, that is not the same thing as saying it is brilliantly written or anything ridiculous like that.  It is, after all, titled TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN.  It needs some work.  It’s got a lot of cheese.  It’s topped with a fair helping of dork.  It features a few plot elements a little too obviously inspired by a decade or two spent in front of the SyFy channel.   But overall, this novel is surprisingly good.  It’s funny, well thought-out, and features a main character I actually, god help me, both liked a lot and could sort of relate to.

It’s about a young woman, Kitty Katt (unfortunate name, but does it help that “Kitty” is a nickname?  Does it help that it used to be MY nickname?), who is on her way to work one day when suddenly, a man yelling at his wife in the street starts to pulse, grow, sprout wings, and then shoot dozens of knives out of vents in his skin, killing everybody in the immediate vicinity.   Though stunned at first, Katt thinks quickly on her feet, and before the bad dude’s had time to finish racking up the carnage, she pulls out the only weapon she has (a Mont Blanc pen), races up to him, and stabs him in this weird jellyfish-looking area on the back of his neck.

Hey, it looked vulnerable, she later says.  And it was:  he immediately transforms back into a human and dies right in front of her.

The next thing she knows, a bunch of men dressed in black suits come out of nowhere and scoop her up, rushing her back to their car.  Thankfully, she makes the Men in Black joke before we can, and, as it turns out, none of us are too far off.  As is soon revealed, these are alien guys (you can tell because they all look like supermodels) and they’ve been sent to our planet to try to keep evil “superbeings” (humans infected with an intelligent alien parasite, like the guy on the street) from wiping out our planet.  But they need more help and they think Katt has what it takes to join their organization.

As the story progresses, the silliness does indeed start to pile up.  But the thing is, it’s all really entertaining silliness.  There wasn’t a single moment in this book when I was so annoyed with something I was tempted to give up.  And while the writing is pretty weak (it reads like a first draft in need of major polishing up), you can tell Koch has given the plot serious thought.  Her explanations for things don’t always make sense, but at least she tries to explain those things (I hate it when sci-fi authors come up with crafty plans that involve alien technology and don’t bother attempting to explain how that alien technology works — I’ll take a bad explanation over no explanation any time.  Just give me something!).  And, what’s more, she’s authentically funny at times and her characters are both endearing and engaging.

Highly recommended to anybody who likes a good silly rom-sci-com!  I would totally watch this if they turned it into a SyFy movie.  <– True stamp of approval.


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