Author: Cyn Balog
Genre: YA, paranormal, romance
Publication Date: August 14, 2012 (Random House – North America)
Source: NetGalley/Edelweiss Review Copy
Summary: Nick Cross always listens to the voice in his head. Because if he doesn’t? Things can go really, really wrong. Like the day he decided to go off script and saved a girl from being run over . . . and let another one drown. Trying to change the future doesn’t work.
But this summer at the Jersey Shore, something’s about to happen that Nick never could have predicted. He meets a girl named Taryn and finds out about the Book of Touch. Now the path that he thought he was on begins to shift . . . and there’s no way to stop things from happening. Or is there?
In a life where there are no surprises, nothing has prepared Nick for what he’s about to discover–or the choice he will be forced to make. . .
☆: 1/5 stars – interesting idea but terrible execution.
Review: Oh boy. I really, really wanted to like this one – the premise was awesome. Future “memories” of one’s life, changing at any possible moment, along with the emotional baggage that comes with losing potential partners, children, and grandchildren. But I felt like the execution was poor, and the book as a whole needed at least two more drafts for it to really feel “finished”. I was really excited about it but ultimately, for me, “Touched” failed to deliver.
While I love the fact that this has a male protagonist, it really didn’t feel like an authentically YA male voice. Holly Black with Cassel from the “Curse Workers” series or Kendare Blake with Cas from her “Anna” duology – those are very intensely written very successful YA male voices coming from female writers. I think the problem was the behavior – Nick just didn’t seem to behave like a real teen boy. It wasn’t that he felt feminine – he felt asexual, had no drive like a teenage boy would in that area, and the way he handles his “lost futures” makes him look as if he’s mourning like a girl would, or in some instances, more robotic than anything else.
The gender problem doesn’t really stop there – there’s also the huge problem of telling versus showing. All at once, from the first page on we’re hit with Nick’s narration of how his “future memories” work, and there’s really no mystery or build-up into how this happens, or how the process may work. We’re straight-up told. I really hate it when authors do this, because it takes the mystery and ultimately, the hook away from this book for me. We saw so very little compared with how much we were told, and this is always a problem for me when this happens in books, regardless if it’s YA or adult. Had this had more mystery and danger built into it so the hook might have snagged a little harder, I think it might have been averted. Thus, another two drafts at least would have really helped this book, I think.
There’s also the problem of stakes – stakes are what make us care about the characters, makes us invested in their story. All I saw was a guy with a future memory problem who was whining about losing his ultimate “perfect future”. There were no huge stakes – a typical one would be saving the world or the universe, etc. There was no huge plot item to make this character important to me, and therein lies the biggest problem of all with this book. It felt a lot like stream of consciousness of a guy talking about his life, but not a lot of action within it to back it up.
Overall? Very disappointing, compared to a lot of the YA male protagonists we’ve had this year, and disappointing in general with such a cool idea behind the plot. I wish this could have been a better experience for me, but it just wasn’t.
“Touched” is out from Delacorte/Random House on August 14, 2012 in North America, so be sure to check it out then and make your own decision on how Balog handled the YA male voice.