Claire North‘s books generally take me longer to read and review. Because English is not my mother tongue, I struggle sometimes to fully understand what is happening. Luckily, I am on holidays and thus had a lot of time to read and was able to finish the book in a matter of two days.
With that being said, I really like her books. Her books are incredibly unique and she has a very special way of telling her story. This makes her books both enjoyable as well as hard to follow. She tends to not follow a clearly structured plot-line all the time and rather jumps between little anecdotes, which she tries to intertwine with the main story. In “Touch”, however, this is much less the case as is in “The End of the Day” for example. Therefore, it was really easy for me to get involved with Kepler‘s story and the book quickly captivated me.
Since I read The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, I was a fan of hers and I enjoyed Touch very much. I recommend it to everyone, who is interested in Claire North or would like to find a book to start.
I‘ll rate this book an 8,5/10. I loved this book so much and with intriguing characters, great stories and an ending that hits hard, Touch by Claire North makes for a very unique and fascinating thriller.
Claire North is an alias used by the British author Catherine Webb. She also wrote under the alias of Kate Griffin. She was born on the 27.04.1986.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August won her the "Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year" Award.
Date of release: 27.08.2015
If you are interested in buying the book, check out this link:
Note that, yes, this is an affiliate link!
Before we start with this review, let me give you a quick summary of Touch by Claire North.
The book follows Kepler, who, when he was about to die, was able to jump into the body of the man who killed him. Since then, he learned that he could jump into any body he desired by simply touching his soon-to-be host. The person will have no recollection of what happened during Kepler‘s stay and cannot resist being a host. The book starts with Kepler (or rather his host Josephine Cebula) being shot down in a train station. It becomes clear that the killer did not try to kill Josephine but rather aimed for Kepler himself. You should now that if a host dies and the entity is not able to move out in time, he will die, too.
Kepler then decides to avenge Josephine‘s death and hunt down, the mysterious organisation called Aquarius, who is hunting beings like Kepler all over the world.
Now, enough summary and more review. Let me start with what I liked, because it heavily outnumbers the stuff I did not enjoy.
First, her writing style and way of story-telling. Claire North always writes very well and yet I sometimes struggle a little bit because I need to be really focused on the book in order to understand everything. Her writing is of a high standard and she has a big vocabulary of which she likes to make use. I think that is quite understandable.
This allows her to describe scenes and people extremely accurately, which helps me as a reader to imagine the situation much easier.
I liked the stylistic layout choice to start a new paragraph when Kepler jumped into a new host. This added a bit of consistency throughout the story. I also loved the paragraphs when Kepler jumped through multiple bodies in a short amount of time. They were structured in the same ways, following this basic principle:
I am *add job*, with *add unique description*
This emphasised the action that just happened and it helps the reader to understand what is going on. By starting a new paragraph, you can feel the jump, because with you eyes, you jump, too. The same goes for those quick switches in a little amount of time. If we have to switch lines after every sentence, it gives us a glimpse into what Kepler might feel like, change hosts in such a short time.
Another point I want to mention is Claire North‘s focus on the main story line. I already touched on the fact that she tends to get „distracted“ - at least that is what it feels like to me - and starts to drift away into other stories and tales, until she suddenly snaps back to the main story, which leaves the reader a little startled. You can see this very well in The End of the Day, where the story jumps around all over the world with a few people reappearing here and there, but to this day I find it difficult to find an exact story in this book, which, to be fair, might be the whole point, who am I to judge?
Less so in this book. I think she does an excellent job in finding the right amount of side stories in between the main plot-line. She also tries to weave in someone or something from the main story to give the anecdote a little more meaning. She manages to keep the side stories interesting, while being just short enough to not lose the attention of the reader. Then she switches back to the main story until my interest is restored. In this book, the main story line becomes quite clear from the very beginning.
I now want to talk about Nathan Coyle. I really liked his character and the incredible character arc that happened during the events of the book. He started out as a killer just following orders and slowly but surly changed. I liked the way Claire North decided to describe his struggle. I could feel him having a hard time, seeing that maybe his own organisation was not telling the truth and even after his own men tried to shoot him down, he still was disgusted by Kepler's nature. And in the end, we get the ultimate proof that Nathan Coyle made a full 180. After he told Kepler that he was sorry about killing Josephine, he turned on Kepler, trying to help Galileo, in what seems to be him going back to his old ways. However, this time it was for different reasons, which he clearly stated. He said that he loved Pam more than he hated Galileo. While previously, he acted out of hate for Kepler and his kind, he now acts out of love, because he does not want Pam to die.
We can clearly see that his motives have changed, which makes his death even more powerful and heart-breaking. Yet, I thought the end was fitting and it made sense to have Nathan, or whatever his name was, die while protecting someone he loved. It made the character arc complete.
I want to emphasise this again, because I like it so much. He went from the cold-blooded killer, who mindlessly followed orders, to someone who was willing to sacrifice himself for the well-being to someone he loved. Now that is a character arc!
I must say that I am really struggling to find anything negative about the book, except the fact that I found it hard to understand as a non-native speaker. This leaves me with the feeling I should find something to critizise, but there is not.
In conclusion, I think that Claire North wrote a beautifully crafted book that features an intriguing story and explores fascinating philosophical and ethical questions. I recommend it to everyone who liked some other books of hers and is looking to read some more. I also think it is a great book to get started and get to know Claire North as an author. I also recommend it to someone who is looking for a thriller that is unlike most things out there.