Rewiew: Touch - Claire North

I saw 'The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August' everywhere last year, but I never got around to reading it. I don't know why. Perhaps because I really was trying hard to not buy more books. Don't look at me like that, I was trying, I was. Anyway. I saw it and liked the sound of it, but never read it. I'm going to though, because if Claire North's new book Touch is indicative of her talent as a writer (which it is because she wrote it) I'd be crazy not to.

From Goodreads:

Kepler had never meant to die this way — viciously beaten to death by a stinking vagrant in a dark back alley. But when reaching out to the murderer for salvation in those last dying moments, a sudden switch takes place.

Now Kepler is looking out through the eyes of the killer himself, staring down at a broken and ruined body lying in the dirt of the alley.

Instead of dying, Kepler has gained the ability to roam from one body to another, to jump into another person’s skin and see through their eyes, live their life -- be it for a few minutes, a few months or a lifetime.

Kepler means these host bodies no harm — and even comes to cherish them intimately like lovers. But when one host, Josephine Cebula, is brutally assassinated, Kepler embarks on a mission to seek the truth — and avenge Josephine’s death.

Excellent concept, no? I thought so too. What's not appealing about this kind of almost sci-fi-esque thriller? I did a small dance of excitement when I downloaded it to my kindle. I am so pleased it didn't disappoint.

Also, you know what the first word is? The very first? Josephine. Can I get a high five?!

It's really well written, thankfully (you may colour me pleased) - fast paced and cleverly executed, jumping from time and place as fast as Kepler jumps from body to body, the tension palpable and the story never anything less than fascinating, from the first word (Josephine!) right through to a conclusion that left my heart racing.

This book is really really good.

And it makes you think, which I like.

It's also no secret that I love a good character driven tale, which this one absolutely is. Kepler isn't restrained by age, race, gender and that makes for a really fascinating protagonist. You never find out whether Kepler is male or female which is interesting to me, and could open up a whole discussion with regards to gender and sexuality and societal perception and whatnot. I'm not sure if that's what North was going for, but it struck me the whole way through - who Kepler was, and how Kepler and the other ghosts loved and the way they navigated relationships - and I liked it.

‘You have no preference – for either sex, I mean?”
“I have a preference for good teeth and strong bones, I replied. “I have a preference for clear skin and, I must admit it, I have something of a weakness for red hair, when I find it, and it’s real”

I also liked the back stories. I liked the lives Kepler has lived - the people, the places, the experiences and how in their own way they were all threads that tied back to the main story. I liked the main story, the man hunt from both sides. 

Both a thriller and a curious love story, a recurring theme of this book is 'do you like what you see?'

When it comes to Touch, my answer is a resounding yes.

[Touch will be published on February 26th by Orbit, an imprint of Little, Brown.]