Touched By An Alien (Gini Koch, Alien Novels #1)

1 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a fairly standard sexy woman empowerment urban fantasy, with the requisite romance side plot. This is the first in a series, and it really shows. There is a lot more establishing material than really deserves to be in one book, there are too many characters for too little plot, and the story feels a bit like something the author mushed together as an introduction without disturbing the real plot. Books like this make me think the author is just following a checklist of things usually included in the genre rather than trying to create anything unique. I wouldn’t recommend this book because if this were the only urban fantasy ever written I suppose it would pass muster as it outlines most of the ideas in the genre, but when there are other books out there that are simply better in every way, I don’t know why anyone would bother with this one.

Greater Detail:
(Silly Ritzy Female Name) Katherine “Kitty” Katt is a (exciting profession) marketing manager. She is drawn into an alien conspiracy to protect the earth when (stupid contrived reason) she randomly kills a super monster as she attends jury duty. Kitty’s life is further complicated by the entrance of (exciting supernatural love interest #1) an alien who is constantly trying to have sex with her for no reason which, thankfully, she doesn’t mind, because he is handsome. Even more trouble comes in the form of (exciting supernatural love interest #2) another alien who is in love with her for no reason who (stupid contrived reason unrelated to plot for them to come into contact) somehow goes along on missions with them despite that very clearly having nothing to do with his important job.

Touched By An Alien makes a desperate, somewhat sad attempt to justify itself as sci-fi. Every weird fantastic thing that happens gets an exhaustive, unnecessary explanation as to why and how it happens. I wouldn’t normally mind this sort of explanation, except for the fact that without exception, every why and how is both incredibly stupid and impossible with our current understanding of, well, pretty much everything, to the extent that they pulled me right out of any sort of enjoyment of the story to rage internally at the poor explanations. I’m not sure if this issue stems from the author having a very poor grasp of science herself or being incredibly lazy and not putting in any effort, but either way, this issue severely compromised my ability to enjoy the book.

This laziness/incompetence boils over into the protagonist as well. The protagonist starts as an ordinary person who becomes drawn into a fight between two factions of aliens. The author was forced to find a reason to justify why the aliens would want to keep the weaker human around and decided that she would magically be better at everything than everyone else. Keep in mind that the protagonist is previously working the equivalent of retail at a bank, has no training in anything resembling this, and everyone she is outsmarting is supposedly a super genius who has spent his entire life working solely on this problem. Even worse, the “brilliant solutions” that the protagonist comes up with are inevitably silly and similar to something a small child would come up with like, “Oh, hey, look, a slug monster! Pour salt on it!”.

Among these other faults, there is also a distinct pacing issue plaguing the book. When it isn’t broken up by lengthy explanations meant to justify everything stupidly, the action is rushed and awkward. What feels like the big climactic final battle comes about two thirds of the way through the book, and instead of using an established villain in a situation where you might actually care about the outcome, the author instead just throws some random monsters in the desert and makes the protagonist duke it out with them. The actual climactic battle isn’t very interesting, the love triangle that the author has invested a lot of effort in just evaporates for no reason, and the conclusion is robbed of any emotional impact due to the fact that it is very clearly just setting things up for the next book at the expense of this one.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
I guess this is the first alien/human pairing I’ve encountered in this broad category of predictable supernatural love triangle books. I honestly can’t really recommend any of them as enjoyable reads, but I will say that this is the first I have read that left me feeling like it was insulting my intelligence, so that’s something, at least.

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