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BOOK REVIEW: Touch by Claire North

| 31 March 2015 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Touch by Claire North

February 2015
Paperback, $29.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell



Tell me – do you feel like you’re losing time?
Sure you do. Everyone does. 
At two o’clock you sit down to read a book and then, what do you know, it’s five in the afternoon and you’re only two pages further in. Perhaps, as you walk home through familiar streets, you grow distracted, and when next you wrench your concentration back to where you’re going you find that you’re already there but the hour is late – so much later than you think.

Kepler was once a normal human being, living day by day, seeing the same features in the mirror each time they looked. But one night, beaten and not far from death, skin meets skin and a switch occurs. Suddenly Kepler is looking through the eyes of the killer himself, staring down at a broken and ruined body lying in the dirt of the alley.

Now a ghost of sorts, Kepler lives in hosts for anywhere from a few seconds through to a lifetime, coming to know some of them intimately, like lovers, and often leaving them a nice sum of money as thanks.

There are many ways to catch a ghost sitting in the body of a loved one. Basic questions – name, age, father’s name, mother’s name, university – can be answered by any well-informed inhabitant, but it takes a matter of minutes to probe a little deeper.

But someone is trying to kill Kepler, killing past hosts along the way, and now Kepler must race to find the truth; wearing the body of uncooperative, would-be assassin, Nathan Coyle.

“You’d talk to the smallpox virus?”
“If it had stories to tell me of plagues it had seen, of great men it had visited, of children who lived and mothers who died, of hot hospitals and cold freezers in guarded trucks, I’d buy it a three-course meal and a weekend in Monaco. Don’t compare me with a DNA strand in a protein shell, Mr Coyle; the argument is beneath us both.”

It’s easy to understand why Coyle and those he works for are so worried about an adversary as fearsome as Kepler.

“Thankfully, you and I will both benefit from Deutsche Bahn’s breakfast tray with marmalade.”
“I hate marmalade.”
“I like it,” I retorted. “I could eat pots of the stuff.”
He straightened a little, turned to fully examine me. “Are you… threatening me with breakfast condiments?”

Come to think of it, maybe Kepler’s really not so bad after all. Maybe there’s someone else out there ruining lives, violating personal space, killing people. Someone who wants Kepler out of the way, and doesn’t care how many hosts they have to destroy along the way.

Now, let me ask you again; do you feel like you’re losing time? 



North writes an engaging story, easy for the reader to get lost in, with a main character who refuses to specify a gender but at times embodies both.

The reader will come out of this experience wondering at what really happens when they lose track of time, and how they might feel to find they’ve been “worn” by someone for a while.

This book is its own entity, leaving me at loss for book-a-like recommendations. Turning the last page I find the idea of a world without Kepler and co. harder to believe than a world with them in it, which just goes to show how effortlessly this world was built, how relatable its characters – though I do have to wonder at the lack of animals.



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