Touched might not be a totally unique premise, but the way it is told is compelling, and the implications have me still thinking about this book days after finishing it.
Nick can see his future. Mostly the immediate future, but he can see glimpses, and sometimes more, of the distant future. Nick hears a "voice" in his head that tells him what he needs to do next -- he call these commands his "You wills." If he doesn't follow the "You wills" then his future changes--sometimes a little bit, but sometimes drastically. As his mind is "cycling" to catch up with the new future, he experiences headaches, sometimes debilitating.
His mother has the same ability. She has stayed in her room for years. When she is cycling, she moans very loudly, which has kept Nick from having any friends at his house. Thank goodness for Nan, Nick's grandmother, who takes care of Nick and his mother.
At the beginning of the book, Nick goes way off course, and although he saves one girl, another small girl loses her life. This is devastating. Even more so, because before this cycling, Nick could envision a great future with a wife and kids. Now, not only has his future changed, but he can't even see it clearly.
Taryn is the girl that Nick saved, and as they build an unlikely relationship, Nick discovers that Taryn knows about his ability -- she says he's "touched" and it has something to do with Taryn's grandmother. Nick, even though his "You wills" tell him otherwise, cannot stay away from Taryn. The romance is slow, although there is that element of "magnetic attraction to a forbidden love interest." It works well in this situation, though.
Touched reads easily and quickly. I really felt for Nick -- what a horrible life for him. Balog does a great job describing the many implications for his condition, which at first seems like it would be a great ability to possess. But it isn't, and we feel for Nick. As Taryn's story is revealed, we are sympathetic to her also. These two are caught in a "Catch-22" that you don't expect them to escape from.
And, that is really the only minor problem I had with Touched. I didn't expect that ending. I didn't WANT that ending. I can't say too much about it, but there's a huge twist and...well...I don't even want to say why I didn't want it, but I think you'll figure it out when you read this. This really is just a personal opinion. I'm sure teens and many others will be satisfied.
And, I recommend that you do read Touched. It is unique enough and very thought provoking in a "be careful what you wish for" sort of way. The pace moves quickly and there's plenty of tension to keep you reading. The characters are sympathetic and the prose is simple. I think Touched has appeal for reluctant readers, and would be enjoyed by boys or girls. No language or sex either, so also accessible to younger teens.