Mark's Reviews > The Touch

The Touch by F. Paul Wilson
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Feb 27, 12

bookshelves: horror
Read in February, 2012

After slogging through The Book of the New Sun I decided a more casual read was warranted. I had started the Adversary Cycle by F. Paul Wilson by reading The Keep , which was excellent and The Tomb , which was ok, but not great. The next book is called The Touch .

The Plot

Alan Bulmer is the main character of the novel. He is a family practice physician who moonlights in the local emergency room of the ficticious town of Monroe, Long Island, New York.

One night in the emergency room, a derilict says "you're the one", touches him, and promptly dies. After that, at certain times of the day, Alan can heal almost any illness with a touch.

This ability turns out to be a double-edged sword, however, and he becomes the target of hordes of sick people, yearning for health for themselves or their loved ones. Also, he becomes the target of rich and powerful men, looking to control his power.

The Good

F. Paul Wilson is a family physician when he's not writing books. Therefore, as far as medical elements of the book go, he speaks from experience. He gets on a soapbox about medical issues and it definitely is reflected in the actions and words of the main character.

It's a page turner and an easy read. I was enraptured by the plot and the characters, so I kept reading until the book was finished, trying to unravel the mystery of Dr. Bulmer's power.

Personally, I think calling a book a "page turner" is high praise. It doesn't strike me as a simple thing to craft a book of 450 someodd pages and keep the reader reading when they should be sleeping in bed! I don't think just anyone can do that. F Paul Wilson does it splendidly. I couldn't ask for more in a book of this type.

The Not-So-Good

Like The Tomb , The Touch has a tenuous relationship to the Adversary Cycle. The final book of the Adversary Cycle uses characters introduced in The Tomb and The Touch , but that's pretty much it.

If ever there was a Mary Sue, the character of Dr. Alan Bulmer is it. He's an obvious avatar for the author. In addition to being a mouthpiece for medical reform (I happen to agree with Mr. Wilson's opinions here), he's nearly perfect in every way. His character flaw is that he cares too much. He's such a great physician that his personal life suffers and, after he gains the titular Touch, he becomes even more self sacrificial. Wow! What a great guy he is. (reader swoons).

I suppose it's par for the course, though. It seems like every other protagonist in a Stephen King yarn is a horror novel author, but they usually have some kind of character flaw. I suppose you write what you know. It'd be tough to write a novel with a physics professor as the main character when you only have high school physics under your belt.

Conclusion

It's a good read. It's not high literature, but it's not intended to be high literature. It's a ripping yarn that's fast paced and makes you keep reading well into the night after you should have turned off the light and gone to sleep. I think that's high praise for this kind of book.
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