Touched by an Alien, by Gini Koch
Gini Koch‘s Touched by an Alien [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy] opens with Katherine “Kitty” Katt killing a rampaging alien with a Mont Blanc pen. Based on this act of impulsive heroism, a group of hot aliens from Alpha Centauri recruit her into a secret organization devoted to finding and stopping these evil superbeings.
If you hadn’t guessed, on a scale of fluff to serious, this one falls closer to the fluff end of things. Which isn’t a bad thing. I’ve written a fair amount of fluff myself, after all. This world needs more light, fun stories!
As with most books, there were things I liked, and there were things that didn’t work for me as well. It’s a quick-paced story with plenty of action, both alien butt-kicking and romantic/sexual. And I appreciated that Koch used her A-C aliens to explore religious prejudice and other issues. It wasn’t just heroic aliens coming to fight evil; there was a bit more backstory going on there.
The biggest thing that bothered me was the way the relationship between Katt and the A-C Jeff Martini progressed. The explicitly sexual scenes weren’t a problem, but the jealousy and possessiveness both Jeff and another A-C display toward Katt cross the line into creepy, as in this exchange:
He grabbed my upper arms. “Prove it.”
“Prove what? Jeff, I–“
“Prove who you belong to.” His eyes flashed as he pulled me to him and kissed me.
I know this sort of aggressive domination comes up in a fair number of romances. And I recognize that there’s a lot of fantasy and wish-fulfillment going on in this book. All of the A-Cs are gorgeous, the men and women both, but they’re only interested in intellect and personality, making Katt the hottest thing on the base. And Katt has some of that Harry Potter chosen one thing going on, where she’s the one who discovers most of the solutions and saves the day. In a more serious novel, I don’t think it would work. In a lighter wish-fulfillment book, it mostly does.
I know that for some people, having a hot, sexy man (or woman) aggressively pursuing and dominating you can be a very attractive fantasy. But Jeff kept setting off my domestic violence warning bells. There were external reasons for some of what happened, but it didn’t work for me.
I’d say that if your warning bells are similar to mine, that might be a problem in reading this one. On the other hand, if you appreciate that kind of fictionalized/fantasy romantic aggression and assertiveness, I suspect you’ll really enjoy the book.
Overall, there’s a lot of fun stuff going on here. And the audience is obviously out there, judging by how well the books have been doing. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’m the right audience for this one.
January 7, 2013 @ 3:11 pm
I heartily agree about the over-the-top dominance and possessiveness. I was very disturbed by this behavior. I’ve been so happy that romance authors have moved significantly away from this type of alphole (see SBTB.com) that it’s disturbing to see it in modern speculative fiction.
January 7, 2013 @ 4:39 pm
I love the humor in this series, but I agree that the relationship between Kitty and Jeff is pretty creepy most of the time. They do address most of the relationship problems in later books, but then we still have to put up with the over-the-top, “doesn’t that hurt?” sex scenes. 😛
We won’t even talk about the cover from this series that you mimicked.
James B Franks
January 7, 2013 @ 9:35 pm
I think that “Alexander Outland: Space Pirate” is a much better book.
January 7, 2013 @ 10:07 pm
On an unrelated note, one of the sequels to this book, “Alien Diplomacy”, features the most god-awful female pose I have ever seen. When I first saw it, I didn’t know whether the person on it was supposed to be a woman or some sort of spider alien.
January 8, 2013 @ 5:33 am
This was pretty much my reaction to this book. There seemed to be a lot of not-entirely-necessary plot twists and turns to it, which also threw me, but I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more without the constant possessive fighting over Kitty by Martini and Christopher. I didn’t find it sexy, though I think there are people for whom it’s what fandom calls “id-fic”–it scratches a kink they have, whether or not they’d really like to have it happen in real life.
I did like some of the plot developments with Kitty’s mother, and I enjoyed some of the alien tech and the very first scene with her vs. the bad guy quite a lot.
Jim C. Hines
January 8, 2013 @ 8:10 am
I hadn’t heard the term id-fic before, but I think it works well here.
Kitty’s mother was a lot of fun. I wonder if we can get Koch to write a spin-off about her 🙂
Jim C. Hines
January 8, 2013 @ 8:11 am
You mean this one?
Jim C. Hines
January 8, 2013 @ 8:11 am
I’m glad the relationship issues get addressed.
January 8, 2013 @ 8:16 am
“Id-fic” as I’ve heard it used can sometimes be pejorative (if it hits your narrative kinks, you might not care if the story is actually any good!), but I find it’s a useful word.
Fanlore has a (short) page: http://fanlore.org/wiki/Idfic
January 9, 2013 @ 12:46 am
Hello, i am a big fan of these books. I have read all of them and cant wait for the next. I agree Jeff does make me want to hop in the book and have a talk about how if he is going to be so jelus mabey Kitty should wear a buraka and not go out. But then i consider how he was very lonely as a kid and realy had problems reltaeing. He is the strongest emapth in the planet he deals with the whole states emotoinal bagage. Any way sorry to rant he does get over tthe jelusy thing mostly. I think they are like Jim said they are fun and fluff they will maqke you smile and you have a good time.