Cover of Touched. A boy approaches an amusement park in an ethereal world

About the Book

Title: Touched
Published: 2012

Cover Story: Total Eclipse Of The Heart
Drinking Buddy:
Testosterone Level: 
Talky Talk:
Choose Your Own Adventure
Bonus Factors:
Sliding Doors, The Butterfly Effect
Bromance Status:
Who The Hell Are You?/Friends To the End

Cover Story: Total Eclipse Of The Heart

In case you’re not a child of the eighties, you might not have seen the greatest music video of all time,  which means you’re a bad person. But the cover really reminded me of that video, with the diaphanous curtains, the mysterious mansion, and the vague sense of menace. Turn around, bright eyes…

The Deal:

Nick ‘Crazy’ Cross knows exactly what he’s going to do with the rest of his life. Exactly. Clearly. Down to the remotest detail. Nick is cursed with the ability to see just how his life will unfold, as if reading a movie script. And that’s fine, provided the future is good: redheaded wife, children, quick death in front of the TV at a ripe old age. But only if he follows the script. Only if he never deviates from the commands in his head, even for a second. Because if he goes off book for anything–even to push a girl out of the way of a truck–then that future is gone forever.

Nick’s visions have earned him freak status at his high school, and he’s fine with that. Kind of hard to get close to someone when you know what you’ll be wearing to their funeral. Nick lives a lonely life with his grandma and his shut-in mother, who shares his curse. But then one day, he meets Taryn. Taryn, who doesn’t think he’s weird. Taryn, who perhaps knows where the family curse comes from. Taryn, who seems to make the visions vanish.

Things are finally looking up for Crazy Cross. But he can still see the future. It’s not good. And the only way to get off the script is to never see this special girl again. And it already may be too late.

Drinking Buddy: Yep

Two pints of beer cheersing

We’ve all known someone like Nick. And we all steered clear of him. After all, it’s only a matter of time before he goes Columbine, right? But I like ya, Nick. We’ve all got our secret hurts. Yours just happen to violate the very fabric of space and time. On the other hand, why not live just a little? Plan out that perfect bank heist, and if you see yourself doing ten to twenty in a few months, rethink the plans. Oh, and this doesn’t work for lotto numbers, the book did mention that.

Testosterone Level: (2+10)/2=6

I had to go with the average here. On the one hand, Nick comes off as unbelievably whiny at times. He’s like one of those people who suffers from a painful illness and is unable to talk about anything else. On the other hand, some of his future lives are quite awesome. He’s a teenager, but he’s been married dozens of times, freebased cocaine, dated a stripper, and died repeatedly. Plus, when things move into crisis mode, Nick is of the ‘act first, think later’ school of thought. So I averaged his scores and got a solid six.

Talky Talk: Choose Your Own Adventure

The day after I started reading this, I decided to take the scenic route to work and was rear-ended at an intersection I don’t normally cross. So if I’d gone the regular route, I would have been spared the accident. But then maybe the other driver would have run the light and been killed in a five car pileup. We’ll never know.

This book does a great job of exploring how those tiny little decisions in life can have momentous consequences. I’ve never seen that in a book before. Just dozens of movies (see below).

Bonus Factor: Sliding Doors

Movie poster of Sliding Doors

In case you haven’t seen it, it’s a movie that follows Gwyneth Paltrow through two possible timelines. In the first, she misses a train and never finds out that her boyfriend is a cheating bastard. In the second, she catches the train, as well as her boyfriend screwing his secret other girlfriend. Then she hooks up with a guy who introduces himself by quoting Monty Python (which never, ever works in real life).

In chapter one of Touched, Nick goes off script to pull Taryn out of the way of a truck. But then he’s late for his job as a lifeguard and…you get the picture.

Bonus Factor: The Butterfly Effect

Movie poster of The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect is the theory that any action, even something as small as a butterfly flapping its wings, can result in devastating effects, such as a hurricane or a really bad Ashton Kutcher film.

All Nick wants to do is the right thing. But things to the curse, he sees every result of his every action. And usually, there’s unhappiness at the end.

Bonus Factor: Back To the Future

Screen shot from Back to the Future
Doc Brown Pours Beer into Mr. Fusion in Back to the Future

So if one changes the past does one remember the present? And does saving the world justify going through life with partial amnesia?

See also: Groundhog Day, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and the works of Thomas Hobbes.

Bromance Status: Who The Hell Are You?/Friends To the End

You know what, freak? Just stay the hell away from me, okay? I don’t  like the way you look at me. You’d better watch…watch…damn, lost it. At any rate, you doing okay? You look kind of woozy there. Hey, talk to me man, I’m here for ya. You take it easy, bro.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Delacorte. I received neither money nor beer for writing this review (dammit!). Touched is available now.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.