Chris Durston's Reviews > Untouched

Untouched by Jayme Bean
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it was amazing

Whew. This was an adventure.

That's appropriate, by the way, because I'm pretty sure it is in fact an adventure book. Whaddya know. I'm not sure I've ever read an adventure book before; it's certainly been a long time since I deliberately picked one up, put it that way. Untouched makes me think I've been missing out, although somehow I imagine there probably aren't many as good as this.

Untouched does not, at least explicitly, contain any supernatural elements, but it's maybe a little bit speculative - perhaps it's, like, almost entirely in the realm of reailsm but taking the smallest possible step towards sci-fi. Parts of its world are strange, but strange in a way that feels very plausible, and that's really possible because of who wrote it. If anyone other than someone with Jayme Bean's exact background and areas of knowledge had written this book, it would've been a lot worse. You get the feeling she gets a real sense of wonder and magic from those things about the real world that are just on the edge of being something else, something transcendent, something just barely explicable. There's a lot of wonder to be found in reality if you look in the right places, and Jayme Bean knows where to look.

Its world, then, is... well, it's the world, realised as its own mysterious and beautiful entity. As for the characters, there are... two consistent main characters, I think. A third starts the journey with them but is absent for the rest of the book after an early turning point, and after a brief period of the twosome alone there's a new member to round out the trio. I wish we'd got more time with the one who disappears early on - I suspect there's a whole other story that could be told with them! They're all great, though: nuanced in ways that fit well together.

The whole thing feels really original, even if some of the basic notes of, y'know, people getting lost and having to survive feels familiar. It'd be spoiling things to say too much, but I got vibes of VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, Sue Burke's Semiosis duology, and Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time - suffice to say that I'm not a biologist, but this book makes slightly speculative biology the most gripping thing.

And it's just really well written, and honestly it's just really good and I didn't want to stop reading. So there. Read this book.
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Reading Progress

March 16, 2021 – Shelved
March 16, 2021 – Shelved as: to-read
May 17, 2021 – Started Reading
May 21, 2021 – Finished Reading

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