Touch is a unique sci-fi/thriller/espionage story that follows an entity known as Kepler, who is referred to as a “ghost”; that is to say, a being who has the ability to jump from one body to another, basically, hijacking the other person’s body. The ghost then lives that person’s life: it drives the person’s car, is married to the person’s spouse, can spend the person’s money, and have sex using the person’s body. The person whose body they take over (the host) is pushed aside and has no memory of anything that has occurred while the ghost is in control. Ghosts can leave a body at any time by simply touching a different person, and the only thing ghosts leave behind when they move on is bewilderment and confusion.
The story takes off when the host body that Kepler was wearing, Josephine Cebula, is brutally murdered. The kicker is that the assassin was not only out to kill Josephine but also Kepler. Kepler now occupies the assassin’s body and is determined to find out the truth about who or what is behind the assassination — and why.
This story kind of reminded me of Every Day by David Levithan, in which the entity wakes up in a new body every day, except they have no control over who they occupy. In this story, our main characters can jump into any body they want, whenever they want.
I loved the original premise of this story, of how the ghosts can live any type of life they want. They can be whoever they want, look however they want and go wherever they want. If you want to, you could be a movie star or even a leader of a country.
Of course, this isn’t so great for the hosts, who can lose days, months, years, or even an entire lifetime to a ghost. Imagine that you’re seventeen-years-old and shake hands with a stranger. The next thing you know, you’re 77 with children and grandchildren, and you don’t remember any of the prior 60 years. So in this way, the story deals with the morality, implications, and ramifications of wearing someone else’s body. Many interesting moral issues were brought up throughout the book, especially those such as free will, identity, and the nature of love. It also raised some interesting questions about the nature of reality.
Have you ever found yourself in another room and forgot why you’re there? Hmm…perhaps a ghost just took a ride in your skin.
I loved the depth in which the author examined the life of a ghost and found it utterly compelling and fascinating. We learned how such an untethered soul survives by stealing the consciousness of others and are, in essence, immortal (unless their host dies before they can touch another person). It struck me that, in a way, Kepler and their kind are a sort of “parasite” and one can certainly understand someone’s desire to eradicate such beings. And that’s the interesting aspect of this story; that though ghosts are indeed parasites, they are also people.
Regardless, however, there are those who hate and fear ghosts and consider them to be nothing more than monsters who steal people’s lives and deserve to be eliminated. But the villain in this story — a serial killer — has motivations much grander and more dangerous than merely eliminating ghosts.
Even though there was quite a bit of body jumping going on in the story as well as numerous flashbacks, I was never confused. I loved journeying along with Kepler as they described their mesmerizing life, both in the past and present. I found this fast-paced story to be so addicting that, even though the book was over 400 pages, I tore through it in two sittings. The gripping storyline and the short chapters helped in that manner.
All in all, this story ranks up among my favorites, especially with its likable yet morally gray protagonist. The writing is beautiful, the plot is utterly unique and engaging, and the story execution flawless. This dark and brilliant story really took me by surprise and did not disappoint. Loved it!