TOUCH by Courtney Maum


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A trend forecaster foresees a solution to the loneliness of this hyperconnected world.

Sloane Jacobsen, “soothsayer of the swipe,” is a hugely successful trend forecaster, having been the one to predict the now-ubiquitous thumb-to-phone motion. She is the “uber anti-mom,” believing that having children is shortsighted in a world where people have been becoming ever more self-centered. For this reason, she has been hired as a consultant by Mammoth, a tech company focusing on consumer electronics and “human-machine integration technology,” to help them prepare for a three-day summit bringing together tastemakers from around the world to consider the theme of “ReProduction”: “What will we make when we stop making kids?” Flying from Paris, where she has been living since the death of her father many years before, to New York brings her closer to her estranged family, and something is nagging at her soothsaying abilities. Very much against the wishes of Mammoth, she cannot help put predict a return to human touch, a “turning against tech.” This is also in direct opposition to the beliefs of her life partner, Roman, a neo-sensualist who has his own prediction: that nonpenetrative, nontactile sex—i.e. a sex life lived online—is the future of sexuality. He has begun, more and more, to wear a Zentai suit, which covers his entire body in a thin layer of Lycra and fetishizes detachment by making true skin-to-skin touch impossible. This discord allows Sloane the space to fall for another Mammoth employee who agrees with her about the return of physical contact and demonstrates his support corporeally. It also allows her to reconnect with her family. While the novel is highly engaging in its representation of the confusing and addictive tech-oriented world we live in, the outcome is predictable and obvious and made more quixotic by a last-ditch dive into the mystical. The exploration Maum (I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, 2014, etc.) is conducting in this book, of human vs. machine, is best served not in the overreaching discussion of global trends but in the more nuanced moments in which Sloane aches to sort out her own feelings.

An uncomplicated novel about the complicated relationship between humans and the tech-heavy world.

Pub Date: May 30th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-7352-1212-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2017


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