Author: Cyn Balog
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: August 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
ISBN-10: 0385740328 (Kids@Random)
ISBN-13: 978-0385740326 (Kids@Random)
Reviewed by: Emmy
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. . . .
Quick & Dirty: Touched started out promising, but the focus is all on Nick’s romance, and his voice sounds more like a whiny girl than a hero.
Opening Sentence: It had taken years, but finally, I had everything down.
Nick’s mind is filled with memories — of things that haven’t happened yet. He calls them memories, but they’re really visions of his future. Every deviation from his script changes everything. He sees hundreds of different futures every time and has to pick the one he likes before he can even function. Because he always knows what’s about to happen, it’s pretty much impossible for him to be normal — he’s always this close to slipping up and talking about something that either never happened, or hasn’t happened yet. Which is why his classmates call him Crazy Cross.
Through his memories, Nick’s lived a lot of great, normal lives — a wife he adored (adores? Tenses are hard when discussing this book!), children, grandchildren. If he could just stay on the right script, he could have it all. Then enters Taryn. Beautiful and distracting, she takes him off course so far that every single future ahead of him leads to disaster. Taryn needs to find a way to break her family’s “curse” and, finding a kindred soul in Nick, wants his help to do it.
Really, really great premise, right? Except the moment Taryn steps on stage, the whole thing deviates and degenerates to revolve around her. If the book had been written from her POV, this wouldn’t be so bad. Which leads me to Nick — I couldn’t reconcile the narrator with a guy. Every time I reverted to thinking of him as a girl. A weak one, at that. It made it impossible for me to invest in his character.
I loved their family’s secrets, the ways they’ve changed the characters and how wrong the characters were about 1) the secrets and 2) their family. It made for both great plot development, but also added to the characters. Not enough to make me care about them, but the effort was definitely there. When Taryn reveals to Nick exactly where his powers come from, we learn how his curse ties him to her. I expected more characters or world-building to happen here, something to complicate what’s otherwise a straight-forward mystery.
Cyn Balog’s writing style isn’t anything special — which might have contributed to the less than dynamic narrative voice — though it does read easily. The conversation is stilted and the humor is super forced, but I bring all that back onto the characterization that lacks here. What I really liked about this novel was the premise, even if it didn’t manage to follow through. If you had a choice, would you want to know? To choose between futures is a burden, not a gift. And if you had one wish — would you regret what you wished for?
I shook my head. “I can only see my own future. And I don’t even see that very well. Like I said.”
“Oh.” She bit her lip, another one of the cutest little mannerisms I’d ever seen on a girl. “She’s not a fortune-teller, anyway. She’s a bibliomancer.”
“She can tell a person’s future by passages in certain books.”
“Passages in books? Sounds shady.”
“It’s an ancient practice,” Taryn said. “Dates back to medieval times, or so my grandmother says.”
I raised my eyebrows. “So, like, what does she do? Open a book and just tell a person’s future from it?”
FTC Advisory: Delacorte Press/Random House provided me with a copy of Touched. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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