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Insert Human Contact Joke Here

By Sharkerbob, author of Graven

Oct 21, 2018: Touch follows a group of superpowered children and young teens who have all been shaped by traumatic circumstances, trying to deal with their personal demons while they attempt use their powers to help similar victims of abuse. In the process, however, they become embroiled in much bigger threats than they are prepared for, and are introduced to a world of magic and monsters.

The story cycles through multiple characters, primarily the main three kids, but also showing us various antagonist and side character perspectives. Many chapters are split between two to four perspectives. This makes it stand out some from most of the serials I’ve read, which tend to strictly follow just the point of view of a few characters with other perspectives limited to interludes. The result is basically a third-person omniscient story. In this way, Touch feels like it has more of a comic book or TV show vibe, with a broader view of events as they unfold, which is a nice alternative to the norm of first person or limited third most serial take.

The author takes time to examine the effects of trauma on its characters, making a point to try and depict it more realistically than is usually portrayed in fiction. To that end, the characters are well done, their psychology well explored. They aren’t gibbering messes of depression and angst all the time, nor do they just flippantly get over it whenever convenient for the plot. They feel like normal kids trying to get a handle back on their lives, even as crazier circumstances keep throwing them for a loop. The dynamic between the characters adds to this, they bounce off one another well, and have to navigate each other’s problems.

Initially, the powers seem pretty basic, but that helps to get a sense of how they impact the characters, and doesn’t flood the reader with too much worldbuilding detail off the bat. However, as the story goes on, what initially appears to be a generic supers setting turns out to be a modern fantasy setting, with powers being the result of magical forces, and a secret supernatural society existing within the mundane one.

The serial is still fairly early in its run, and as such, if there is a flaw I can point to, its that the story feels like it’s still trying to find its feet. The first two arcs are largely these very personal character exploration stories, not necessarily slow paced, but they ease you into the characters situations and somewhat slowly introduce the concept of powers and the characters figuring them out, with only hints to the magical world, and introducing new characters a few at a time.

Then Arc 3 hits, and it suddenly kicks into high gear, with a multi-chapter action sequence involving long chases and magic battles, introducing the politics and deep lore of the magical world, and one of the characters already finding mentors to teach him new powers. Now I like a story that doesn’t waste my time, but it is a bit of a jarring shift given the slower pacing of the beginning.

Because of this, the first couple Arcs didn’t really grab me much at first. While not badly written, I don’t tend to gravitate to traumatized or very young characters, and initially felt like I had seen this sort of young hardluck heroes journey story before, albeit Touch definitely goes into darker territory than you’d usually see in such things. However, then the worldbuilding and lore gets introduced, and while I’m not that big a fan of urban fantasy either, there’s enough interesting stuff going on that it did end up intriguing me more. I feel the transition could be smoother or the tone more consistent, but ultimately, it doesn’t detract from the story too much, and I’m sure as the author continues, they will find their groove.

Either way, I recommend this story if you like a more psychological approach to characters and enjoy a bit more of a supers approach to urban fantasy.

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