This is the fourth in my summer of Claire North novels, and another doozy! Once again, Claire North takes an interesting sci-fi/magical realism what-if and builds a world around it. In Touch, there are people who left there own bodies at the moment of some traumatic death and ‘jumped’ into the body of someone else. Now all they need to do is touch someone to jump into them (although it seems that they are able to touch people without jumping – they have to touch and want to jump). There essence (soul? being?) is now effectively immortal because they can just keep jumping into new bodies.
As is usual with Claire North novels, this premise is explored with great intelligence and wisdom – all sides of the ethics and rights and wrongs of this jumping are explored. These people have to take over other bodies in order to live, but the bodies they inhabit have no memory of being controlled – so if it’s for a moment, they might think they just lost concentration, and if it’s for longer, they ‘wake up’ with amnesia for the time they were inhabited.
The act of taking a body is a violation, but necessary for life. Then there are practical issues – what if the body has an allergy or illness? If you spend their money is that theft? but then how can you have money without stealing? If you want to settle down, get married, have a family, you are doing all of that in someone else’s body – stealing their life.
The main character in Touch is being chased by someone trying to kill her/him , so there is an exciting thriller element (if you like that kind of thing – I usually don’t, but since it’s Claire North, I’ll go with it).