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Publisher's Summary

Touch is an electrifying thriller by the author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and 84K.

He tried to take my life. Instead, I took his.

It was a long time ago. I remember it was dark, and I didn't see my killer until it was too late. As I died, my hand touched his. That's when the first switch took place.

Suddenly, I was looking through the eyes of my killer, and I was watching myself die. Now switching is easy. I can jump from body to body, have any life, be anyone.

Some people touch lives. Others take them. I do both.

More by Claire North:

  • The Gameshouse
  • 84K
  • The End of the Day
  • The Sudden Appearance of Hope
  • Touch
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
©2015 Claire North (P)2015 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about Touch

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

South of North's Best Work

Claire North has a recipe (or so I take it from The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and The Sudden Appearance of Hope) and I generally like it. She takes a sci-fi premise – a man is born again at the same historical moment life after life or a woman leaves no lasting impression on the people – but that’s only the start. Where lesser writers just dump the premise and run, she explores it, brings out its contradictions, and resolves them. Then, working that exposition throughout the larger plot, she produces an exciting climax where our protagonist, meeting a character of the same nature, has a final showdown determined by the rules of the universe she’s created.

As if all that weren’t enough, she draws out a worthwhile philosophical interrogation about the nature of identity. Who are we if we’re born again with the capacity to “improve” on the decisions we made in our first life? How is it possible to fall in love if no one is ultimately like you? And what might it mean for us ordinary humans if there are other types with superior awareness?

I loved those other two of North’s novels, and I look forward to reading more of her work, but I think this one comes up somewhat short.

For starters, the sci-fi premise here is that the central character is a kind of ghost, a spirit who inhabits the bodies of others. He/she can move from person to person by touch. The mechanics of those movements are vintage North. There are some great scenes where our ghost protagonist, Kepler, passes from a body that’s been shot into the body of someone wounded nearby, into the body of the shooter, and then on to safety by a rapid switch of passers-by. It’s a whole new kind of thriller action.

As this goes along, though, I think it begins to undermine itself. Because the ghost takes on so many characteristics of his/her host, he is constantly in flux. There’s no stability, no “there there.” By the end of the novel, when Kepler declares him/herself in love with a human who’s gotten pulled into a conflict between Kepler and another ghost, it isn’t clear what that might mean. Kepler has been so many different people, has allowed so many hosts to get killed and hurt as a consequence of his/her actions, that how he/she would experience a sense of a self falling in love never comes clear.

It may be that I read this one too slowly and allowed my attention to drift, but I found myself less and less interested in the internal premises of its action. Kepler would be after a character who appeared one way and then after the same character who appeared completely different. I’d get a sense of the particulars of a scene, and then the scene would shift altogether.

As a reader, I’d find myself getting caught up in the action, and then it would change so dramatically that, even after I recalibrated which body which ghost was wearing, I couldn’t recover the same interest. It’s as if North, who is investigating the nature of identity, obscures identity so much here that one of her central premises more or less evaporates.

I’m still on for more of North’s work, but I think this one – the second she wrote under this pen-name – simply outsmarts itself.

10 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A ghost hunting killers

Kepler is a ghost, a being who, when he was beaten to death in a filthy alley, with his dying impulse reached out to touch his killer's ankle--and found himself looking down at his own dead body, out of his killer's eyes.

That was few centuries back, and Kepler can hop from body to body when ever he needs or wants to. He doesn't intend harm to his hosts, and even comes to cherish them.

Then one of his hosts is brutally assassinated.

The killer wanted Kepler dead, but killed his host, Josephine Cebula, even after realizing Kepler had jumped. Why? He needs to find the truth, and avenge Josephine.

What follows is a terrifying chase across Europe and America. There are other ghosts, some who have been friends of Kepler's, or, arguably, business associates. Others are definitely not friends.

At least one is perhaps insane, perhaps just evil, but either way a threat to other ghosts. Because this ghost has committed multiple mass murders over decades, if not longer, an organization of what might be called ordinary humans, determined to wipe out the ghosts. The killer ghost, dubbed Galileo, has its own unknown plans.

Kepler tells his story out of order, moving forward from the death of Josephine, while also jumping backwards to earlier formative or relevant experiences. In the end, we know everything that Kepler knows, but we don't know it all in the same order. Sometimes this is challenging to follow.

It's not a perfect book, but it held my interest and attention

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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I can't deal with Peter Kenny's Narration

I seem to be in the minority here, but the narration made this one unlistenable for me and I had to get it in print. The narrator has this weird thing where he sort of chops sentences apart, saying a couple of syllables with such violence and rigour that it sounds like he's about to jump out of his chair and have a seizure. You could have a sentence that read, "I looked at the sky, and it was blue." This narrator would say, "I LOOKED!!--at the sky!--and it was BLUE!!!." Seriously, I can't take it. Please just settle down!

To be fair, this trait of his is not quite as pronounced in this book as it is in some of his earlier works, but after trying to listen to him in Andrzej Sapkowski's Blood of Elves, I now hear it in every sentence he says. It's less severe here than it was in that one, but it is still there, and I can't deal with it.

I think this is a good story, but the audiobook is going to have to go back.

15 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Great concept

Claire North (aka Catherine Webb) is quickly becoming an author climbing the ranks of my favorites list. She has a unique voice and creates worlds that blend nightmares and wishes into thrilling adventure.

In Touch we meet Kepler our protagonist, a being that moves from body-to-body with just a touch of skin. “Have you been losing time?” A few minuets here or an hour there? Kepler is a Ghost, a near-immortal species that moves from body-to-body, taking over life after life. All the while the host body has no idea anything has happened. One minute they are shanking hands with a stranger the next hours, weeks, months, even years have passed and their life is upside-down.

Kepler is genderless, ageless, and able to take over the body of anyone. Kepler doesn’t choose bodies for money, or fame like some might. No, instead Kepler prefers bodies that don’t have pains and aches. Kepler takes care of his hosts, always leaving them in a better position then when he found them. But the dead body of Josephine Cebula changes everything.

The thing that this book does, maybe unintentionally, is challenge sexuality and gender in a new way. The Ghosts, once probably human, can be any person, gender, race they want. There is also a major theme in the book, LOVE. The love of oneself, love of others.

This is a dark and thought provoking novel, and exquisitely written. If you are a fan of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (and if you’ve not read that, please jump on it) then you’ll enjoy this book as well. It’s a thrilling and unexpected journey with no limits on time or the human race.

4 people found this helpful

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Large volume changes on most sentences.

Great concept, good story but too large of a volume swing on individual sentences. It’s as if the narrator was running out of air. You either miss the softly spoken end of the sentence or if you turn up the volume to hear the whisper you are blasted by other parts of the same sentence. This is not suitable for listing to in a vehicle. I even considered returning it but liked the story enough to suffer through my annoyance at the volume changes.

6 people found this helpful

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What?

Cool concept but I don't think I have ever been lost this many times during a book. I'm not sure if the written work was formatted in a way that made the flashbacks more obvious in a way that didn't translate to audio, or what. The narrator was decent but a lot of voices were really hard to tell apart which caused a lot of confusion.


Nest story, I I have absolutely no idea what the heck happened at the end though. The concept of jumping between bodies is a cool way to do immortality.

This book would be better physically read than audio book.

1 person found this helpful

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be ready to focus

interesting story. kinda a catch me if you can meets ghost. it's worth a credit and introduces a tangled companionship.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Very Hard Book To Listen To

Initially I liked the basis of the story. The idea of touching someone and your consciousness transfers over sounded like a very interesting story to me.

However, shortly into the book I realized all the jumping around from person to person, and then also from past to present and vise versa, became very confusing. I had to re-listen to various chapters over and over again to comprehend what was going on.

During my second time around, I took notes as I listened through the 1st half of the book again. This also helped me to better retain what I was reading but made the reading more like studying.

[Spoiler Alert]

Finally the last maybe 4 hours of the book I was finally hooked and didn’t need to rewind or take notes. This was when Kepler saves Nathan and afterwards they were sort of working together. Even though Nathan was adamant that they were “not friends”, in his way he did accept Kepler when he agreed to let Kepler use his body.

I felt like there should have been more at the end though.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Worthy of my time, and money

While not as good as Harry August, Touch is still very good, and definitely worthy of my time and money. Some of the criticisms I read in the reviews I felt are unwarranted. I thought the story, the narrator and overall experience to be just shy of excellent. Check it out.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not really worth finishing

It's hard to stop a book in the middle. But with such a unique charter is this protagonist I had to make that call. Because of the underlying premise I find it difficult you be come attached to the main charter as well as the antagonist if the story. Clever concept, but ultimately TLDR.

3 people found this helpful