Shannon (Giraffe Days)'s Reviews > Alien Proliferation

Alien Proliferation by Gini Koch
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's review
Dec 19, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2012, sci-fi
Read in February, 2012 — I own a copy

This fourth instalment in the Kitty Katt series delivers just as much action as the previous books, proving that a newborn can't slow Kitty down. Fighting another grand mastermind design full of red herrings and unknown enemies, Kitty and her alien husband Jeff Martini are on hand to save the day.

To recap for those who aren't familiar with the series, Kitty inadvertently discovered that there are aliens on Earth - very sexy, drop-dead gorgeous aliens who came here from their own planet in the Alpha Centauri system to help protect us from "superbeings", parasitic aliens that latch onto people in the height of anger, turning them into destructive monsters. The sexy aliens - or "A-C"s as they're called - have a few special gifts to help them: double hearts mean that they can run faster than you can see and are stronger than humans and heal quickly; some are also born with talents, able to manipulate images (which is why no one sees the superbeings manifest, despite all the cameras on our phones) or feel people's emotions.

All sounds pretty grand, right? It is that, and I haven't even mentioned their fancy alien technology! (Honestly, if I didn't enjoy this series it'd be far too easy to take the piss out of it.) (And if I didn't enjoy it so much, I'd probably be really annoyed that the aliens are predominantly white, all attractive and so, well, human!) Kitty became Commander of the Airborne unit, with mostly humans in her team, and married the Commander of Field operations, Jeff Martini - who also happened to be a descendent of the royal family back on the home world. And then they got pregnant. That should bring you up to speed on the over-arching plot points without spoiling any of the actual plots of the previous books. I do try. ;)

Alien Proliferation begins with a heavily pregnant Kitty being bossed around by pretty much everyone else, but still determined to be an active Commander in the A-C community. Her longtime best friend and love interest rival, Charles "Chuckie" Reynolds, head of the CIA's ET division, is with her for a very fishy meeting with some head honchos, but before they can spend much time thinking about it Kitty goes into labour.

Now, here's where the series disappoints me. I'm not asking for a graphic, overly detailed description of childbirth, not at all. But Alien Proliferation has to contain the most unrealistic childbirth scene I've ever come across, aside from Rachel Green in Friends. Yes, I know, the comedy is more important than being accurate, but Kitty's labour and childbirth weren't comedic at all. In fact, I think it was meant to be quite heavy and serious. And I'm aware that no two women, or no two births, are going to be the same. And sure, she's having a half-alien baby that's pretty much all alien in nature, but physiologically that doesn't change anything.

To have this at the beginning of the book was like a big mountain of turd to tunnel through to get to the real story. "Disappointed" would be the nice word for it. Unfortunately, it was soon followed by what I can only call a surreal newborn experience for Kitty and Jeff. I love that Kitty "kicks ass" (I can't say that without quotation marks, sorry, it's just not an expression I ever use myself), she's resourceful and, as she puts it, can think like the megalomaniacs which is why she's usually the one who figures the mastermind plans out. But honestly? She's still human. She's got a newborn and even if the baby, Jamie, is right out of Fantasy land, I still wanted to see Kitty stressed, exhausted, frazzled, hormonal (especially considering the gazillion litres of breast milk she's able to pump out, geez!) and weepy - essentially, I wanted to be able to relate to her. Because here's an experience I've had too. I've never killed a superbeing, I've never met an alien (that I know of ;) ), I've never flown a plane or killed someone or any of the other things Kitty's done. I've certainly never worked in marketing, either. But I have had a baby. And to see Kitty be able to breastfeed perfectly from the first, to be able to have intelligent conversations with important people, to hear her keep saying things like how easy having a baby is, and so on - it started to really piss me off. Basically, it was just so entirely unrealistic that I found it hard to believe she'd even had a baby. Could not one thing have been difficult for her? If I hadn't read that Koch herself has a daughter, I'd have a hard time believing the author knew anything about labour, childbirth and newborns.

I also got distracted by the issue of contraceptives. Namely, that Jeff and Kitty don't use any. This seems so ... irresponsible, and what are the odds that they become pregnant pretty much around the time they get married? Kitty's a woman with a strong libido, and you're telling me she never stopped to worry about getting pregnant with "some alien guy" she was shagging (going back to the first book). And now they've had a baby, despite the hormones from breastfeeding that suppress your libido (so that you focus on the baby and don't have sex so you don't get pregnant again - seriously, the human body is quite clever), they're back in the sack again without any contraceptives! If you're thinking, well that's not an important detail and I don't really need to read about the characters stopping to put on a condom, that's a fair point, but there doesn't need to be a description of it, just a mention somewhere. (And you'd be surprised at how often contraceptives get mentioned in Romance fiction, which this series has a dose of.)

After the massive hump that was the childbirth scene, though, we get right back into a major mastermind plan, as per usual. I don't want to give you any details, but it lives up to the previous ones and even surpasses them. (Makes me wonder: can Koch keep this up? Can she come up with another mastermind plan even more devious and widespread than this one?) I especially liked that we got to know a few "foot soldiers", the usually nameless fodder that lose their lives and are quickly forgotten. Remember in Austen Powers, you got to know a few of them? Often in movies, you get lots of nameless, faceless men charging in and getting killed, and no one stops to wonder about these people, their names, their personalities, their families, their hopes and dreams. They're just "bad guys". Most action and spy movies have loads of these extras. Here, some of those nameless, faceless A-C good guy soldiers die, but we get to know a few names, know their family, and mourn them. I appreciated that.

The plot is actually a lot heavier and there's less room for comedy, though we still get Kitty's distinctive voice and often humorous take on things. Like all good comedy, her flippancy often serves to make a situation more serious, rather than less, so that we end up with a story that's quite horrific in its details. That said, looking back you realise that it was a bit lighter on the action than previous books. And at 458 pages, that's saying a lot. The focus is more on the characters and their personal growth, but since a lot of that disappointed me (see above), overall the novel wasn't as powerful as it could have been.

I'm still not a big fan of Chuckie - there's just something off about him, and I don't just mean his nickname. But I'm still really enjoying the series, I love the character growth, the highly detailed plots, the fleshed-out world building, the supporting cast, and despite Kitty's increasingly superwoman nature and my increasing feeling of alienation from her, she has a great way with banter, she's fierce and loyal and a strong protagonist and narrator. My favourite in the series is still Alien Tango , but while I know I got side-tracked on the whole childbirth-newborn issue here, I did still enjoy the story. Just not that chunk at the beginning.
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