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A Touch of Jen

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Remy and Alicia, a couple of insecure service workers, are not particularly happy together--but they are bound by a shared obsession with Jen, a beautiful former co-worker of Remy’s who now seems to be following her bliss as a globe-trotting jewelry designer. In and outside the bedroom, Remy and Alicia's entire relationship revolves around fantasies of Jen, whose every Ins Remy and Alicia, a couple of insecure service workers, are not particularly happy together--but they are bound by a shared obsession with Jen, a beautiful former co-worker of Remy’s who now seems to be following her bliss as a globe-trotting jewelry designer. In and outside the bedroom, Remy and Alicia's entire relationship revolves around fantasies of Jen, whose every Instagram caption, outfit, and New Age mantra they know by heart. Imagine their confused excitement when they run into Jen, in the flesh, and she invites them on a surfing trip to the Hamptons with her wealthy boyfriend and their group. Once there, Remy and Alicia try (a little too hard) to fit into Jen’s exalted social circle, but violent desire and class resentment bubble beneath the surface of this beach-side paradise, threatening to erupt. As small disturbances escalate into outright horror, Remy and Alicia tumble into an uncanny alternate reality, one shaped by their most unspeakable, deviant, and intoxicating fantasies. Is this what “self-actualization” looks like? Part millennial social comedy, part psychedelic horror, and all wildly entertaining, A Touch of Jen is a sly, unflinching examination of the hidden drives that lurk just outside the frame of our carefully curated selves.


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Remy and Alicia, a couple of insecure service workers, are not particularly happy together--but they are bound by a shared obsession with Jen, a beautiful former co-worker of Remy’s who now seems to be following her bliss as a globe-trotting jewelry designer. In and outside the bedroom, Remy and Alicia's entire relationship revolves around fantasies of Jen, whose every Ins Remy and Alicia, a couple of insecure service workers, are not particularly happy together--but they are bound by a shared obsession with Jen, a beautiful former co-worker of Remy’s who now seems to be following her bliss as a globe-trotting jewelry designer. In and outside the bedroom, Remy and Alicia's entire relationship revolves around fantasies of Jen, whose every Instagram caption, outfit, and New Age mantra they know by heart. Imagine their confused excitement when they run into Jen, in the flesh, and she invites them on a surfing trip to the Hamptons with her wealthy boyfriend and their group. Once there, Remy and Alicia try (a little too hard) to fit into Jen’s exalted social circle, but violent desire and class resentment bubble beneath the surface of this beach-side paradise, threatening to erupt. As small disturbances escalate into outright horror, Remy and Alicia tumble into an uncanny alternate reality, one shaped by their most unspeakable, deviant, and intoxicating fantasies. Is this what “self-actualization” looks like? Part millennial social comedy, part psychedelic horror, and all wildly entertaining, A Touch of Jen is a sly, unflinching examination of the hidden drives that lurk just outside the frame of our carefully curated selves.

30 review for A Touch of Jen

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Okay! No, nothing is okay! My brain swims in a ice bucket, already left my head. I’m numb! My entire vocabulary was ejected! I cannot tell how I feel about WTfreakingH I just read! Is it sci-fi, bleakest-darkest- extra sarcastic comedy? Or is the most disturbing, obsessive love story? Is it surreal fantasy? I think it was combination of all of them! One thing I’m sure of this book is not for everyone! I felt like I was trapped in a universe created by corporation of David Cronenberg , Terry Gilli Okay! No, nothing is okay! My brain swims in a ice bucket, already left my head. I’m numb! My entire vocabulary was ejected! I cannot tell how I feel about WTfreakingH I just read! Is it sci-fi, bleakest-darkest- extra sarcastic comedy? Or is the most disturbing, obsessive love story? Is it surreal fantasy? I think it was combination of all of them! One thing I’m sure of this book is not for everyone! I felt like I was trapped in a universe created by corporation of David Cronenberg , Terry Gilliam, Alex Garland and Charlie Kaufman. This book contains weird, quirky characters and weirder dialogues as if they’ve been written by aliens and complex, jaw dropping situations they find themselves into. Even the characters’ reactions were not like normal people. It’s like reading a book takes place in parallel universe with bunch of batsh*t crazy people! In the first part: we’re introduced not so lovely but absolutely “are you for real kind” of agitating characters: Remy and Alice: looking like boring couple in their thirties, service workers and only thing connects them their obsession to Remy’s former colleague Jen who pursues her dream as jewelry designer. They watch her every move on social media, dragging into her like moth to a flame. Alice acts like Jen to feel more powerful and eccentric! Remy still thinks Jen and him are meant to be. He sees to be invited a party at Jen’s boyfriend Horus’ house ( actually it’s his mother’s house but it’s still great surf&turf place) he sees it as a sign and he takes Alice with him to spend the weekend at there. The weekend at the house, intercourses between bunch of weird guests ( Carla and her clairvoyance skills are the winner of this incredibly strange people competition), the awkward dialogues, ultra absurd incidents they deal were the best chapter of the novel. Because after the party time, our boring couple return back to their more boring, meaningless lives and painful, and energy sucking, slowly killing jobs but nothing is the same. Things already got of the rails and ....so many WTH moments later, the story’s direction whirl around just like a car jumps off a cliff and repeat that action over and over again. You feel like you’re drugged and experiencing a different reality you’d never known. The horrific, jaw dropping ending is epic final to this intriguing, confusing and unique madness! I think if you’re open to read something you’d never read before and if you are great fans of surreal, mind blowing fantasy works, you should definitely give this book a chance. I never read something like that! My head hurts! My grain cells need renewal but overall it was wildest craziest darkest and funniest journey I’ve never had before! Special thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    A Touch of Jen is David Lynch meets Franz Kafka for the Instagram age. Boy oh boy, I was NOT expecting this weird and crazy, horrifying, bizarre literarly thrill ride when I first started what seemed like an innocuous book about a couple's off-kilter obsession with an Instagram influencer they vaguely know. The book starts out about this harmless (or so it seems) obsession with an Instagrammer who seems just a little too perfect, and morphs into a wild, weird, disjointed and humorous (really!) r A Touch of Jen is David Lynch meets Franz Kafka for the Instagram age. Boy oh boy, I was NOT expecting this weird and crazy, horrifying, bizarre literarly thrill ride when I first started what seemed like an innocuous book about a couple's off-kilter obsession with an Instagram influencer they vaguely know. The book starts out about this harmless (or so it seems) obsession with an Instagrammer who seems just a little too perfect, and morphs into a wild, weird, disjointed and humorous (really!) romp of bizarre imagery and weird happenings. I don't have the words to describe this book, as it is wholly unique. There are several ways to look at this book. Maybe it's a sci-fi story. Maybe it's a supernatural story. Maybe it's a story about a mentally ill, obsessed person. Or maybe it's a story about someone who is literally living in another reality. I have my interpretation, but it's open to many. Whatever you decide to believe about the book, the characters are fascinating, and the story is like a train wreck in slow motion that you can start to see coming...but you would NEVER predict that the train, say, turns into a mythological creature. Beth Morgan has a dark and gritty sense of humor and a warped imagination, both of which I fully enjoyed in this impossible-to-explain book. If you like surrealist, dark, weird, humorous stuff, this is the book for you. Just hang on and enjoy the ride. With an imagination like this, Beth Morgan has quite a future in fiction and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. One thing is for sure - it will surprise me. Thanks to Little, Brown, NetGalley and the author for the ARC!

  3. 4 out of 5

    lark benobi

    Reading this novel was like being on a rollercoaster and thinking, ok, I'm on this rollercoaster, and so I know where this ride is going...only your car keeps leaping off the tracks and out into space before it somehow finds its course along another stretch of track, one that might just belong to a different roller coaster altogether. I read breathlessly. The journey thrilled me. The bravery of Beth Morgan, to take this story to the places she did, reminds me of where Flannery O'Connor took Wise Reading this novel was like being on a rollercoaster and thinking, ok, I'm on this rollercoaster, and so I know where this ride is going...only your car keeps leaping off the tracks and out into space before it somehow finds its course along another stretch of track, one that might just belong to a different roller coaster altogether. I read breathlessly. The journey thrilled me. The bravery of Beth Morgan, to take this story to the places she did, reminds me of where Flannery O'Connor took Wise Blood or more recently, where Hari Kunzru took White Tears. I'm also reminded of the films of Yorgos Lanthimos, in particular The Killing of the Sacred Deer, for the way this story has an internal logic that works perfectly as art, but that falls apart if taken out of the peculiar reality in which it exists, or if forced to bend to the rules of realism, or even to the rules that most fiction is written by. In addition to being an intense and unique reading experience, along the way the author has some remarkable things to say about faith, solipsism, parasocial relationships, and how we derive meaning (or not) from the barrage of sensory inputs that make up our daily lives. Also, wow, the dialogue in this story is amazing, as is the way Morgan captures the tiny self-editing/self-blaming/self-conscious thoughts we all have when in conversation with our fellow human beings. I loved this reading experience. I'm happy someone with Beth Morgan's imagination and talent lives in the world. I'm so, so happy this book got published the way it did. Yeah. Read it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    A Touch of Jen was one of my most anticipated books of this year. I mean, ‘a love triangle so toxic that it breaks the order of the universe and unleashes a literal monster’? ‘Ottessa Moshfegh meets David Cronenberg’??? Hook it into my VEINS, or whatever it is that people say. Remy and Alicia, a couple in their early thirties, are mutually fascinated by a woman called Jen, a former coworker of Remy’s. (It’s not really clear why, and that’s kind of the point; the obsession itself is more important A Touch of Jen was one of my most anticipated books of this year. I mean, ‘a love triangle so toxic that it breaks the order of the universe and unleashes a literal monster’? ‘Ottessa Moshfegh meets David Cronenberg’??? Hook it into my VEINS, or whatever it is that people say. Remy and Alicia, a couple in their early thirties, are mutually fascinated by a woman called Jen, a former coworker of Remy’s. (It’s not really clear why, and that’s kind of the point; the obsession itself is more important than its subject.) Most of their conversations are about her, they spend huge amounts of time dissecting everything she posts online, and their sex life involves a lot of Jen-related roleplay. Remy and Alicia are mostly unlikeable yet somehow, against the odds, charming – you wouldn’t want to know them, but reading about them is pretty fun. Morgan writes their obsession with Jen perfectly: I really did believe that the idea of Remy hooking up with Jen was as exciting (possibly even more exciting) for Alicia as for Remy. At least 90% of A Touch of Jen is a quirky comedy about the Remy/Alicia/Jen love triangle which, at its best, nearly matches the high-precision weirdness of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, but at its worst recalls the most random-without-a-cause sequences of Annaleese Jochems’ Baby. While the few glimpses we get of a monstrous, otherworldly presence are tantalising, they’re incidental until the story is almost over – at which point it suddenly explodes into the kind of high-octane horror-thriller stuff I associate with books like The Dark Net and The Changeling. I did like the ending – the actual ending, i.e. the last couple of pages – a lot. It’s a better way to wrap everything up than I thought possible, while also being one of those ah, yes, of course endings that make perfect sense. But until that point, throughout the whole book in fact, I felt like I was constantly... waiting for something. I suppose it’s just that I was waiting for the moment I would really click with the story and start loving it, and that never happened. It’s a good concept, and fun, but much lighter than I expected, and ultimately just not a good match for my tastes. (NB: not that I, or I’m sure most people reading this, take that kind of overexcited targeted-hype blurb language seriously, but it really isn’t anything like either Moshfegh or Cronenberg, if you were wondering. More like The Pisces meets John Dies at the End.) I received an advance review copy of A Touch of Jen from the publisher through Edelweiss. TinyLetter | Linktree

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    I snatched this up instantly upon seeing the cover and the blurb indicating a literal monster would be unleashed. And I read the entire thing in one sitting. Mainly because until about the 90% mark I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. Smarter readers are sure to comment that this is some sort of social commentary about society’s addiction to social media and haves vs. have nots and blah blah blah. I’m not that smart of a girl so I’m simply going to say this obviously had some page turnab I snatched this up instantly upon seeing the cover and the blurb indicating a literal monster would be unleashed. And I read the entire thing in one sitting. Mainly because until about the 90% mark I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. Smarter readers are sure to comment that this is some sort of social commentary about society’s addiction to social media and haves vs. have nots and blah blah blah. I’m not that smart of a girl so I’m simply going to say this obviously had some page turnability, but it failed to live up to my own expectations regarding the payoff. Probably because of this . . . . Don’t tease me with “horror” and “Jen” and think my brain will ever go anywhere else. ARC provided by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Claire Smith

    There are 7 stages to reading A Touch of Jen: 1) “Wow, page 7 is really early to mention the concept of torture in a cavalier tone.” 2) “These characters are unbearable” 3) “I think I’m going to stop reading this…” 4) “wtf. Wtf. WTF!” 5) “My brain feels like a tablespoon of butter in microwave and is in real danger of leaking out my ears.” 6) “Why is Jake Gyllenhaal here?” 7) Acceptance For the most part, I don’t know what to think of this book. I actually don’t know if I can still think at all ( There are 7 stages to reading A Touch of Jen: 1) “Wow, page 7 is really early to mention the concept of torture in a cavalier tone.” 2) “These characters are unbearable” 3) “I think I’m going to stop reading this…” 4) “wtf. Wtf. WTF!” 5) “My brain feels like a tablespoon of butter in microwave and is in real danger of leaking out my ears.” 6) “Why is Jake Gyllenhaal here?” 7) Acceptance For the most part, I don’t know what to think of this book. I actually don’t know if I can still think at all (see stage 5). For the most part, this book is like reading an indie movie. Like, I imagine reading a novelization of “The Lobster” would feel similar. Nobody talks like real people. Nobody acts like real people. It’s like every character is a funhouse mirror reflection of a human…but you want to punch every single one of those reflections in the face. Most of the time I felt like this book takes itself way too seriously and that drives me nuts. But…there’s more to it than that. For starters, there are moments where it’s genuinely funny. There are moments where the author flexed a little and I felt like I could appreciate the writing. But those moments were few and far between. But then there’s the end. I think I am going to be thinking about the last couple pages forever. There’s a nonzero chance they will haunt my nightmares. I almost put this down and didn’t finish it multiple times, but I’m glad I stayed. The last hundred pages are WILD. It moves from navel-gazing indie movie to sci-fi horror B movie—and that’s a genre I can roll with. The book gets gore-y towards the end (but this review will not, don’t worry). By this point, the first two thirds of the book had just completely knocked down all my expectations and robbed me of a significant number of fine motor skills. So, when it suddenly got intense and spooky and a little bit psychological horror-ish, the two brain cells I had left were thrilled to be on that roller coaster ride. I really need to talk about this book with someone because there's a lot to unpack here and I haven't been able to sort through anything but the socks. I'm still turning over questions like the main character is very obviously horrible and sexist, is that adequately addressed or did this hit some of the same pitfalls as other stories where the main character sucks? Also, one of the other main characters supposedly had brain damage as a kid and everything about the treatment of that feels...not great at best. So, read at your own risk, I think. You’re either the kind of person this book was written for or not. If, earlier, when I said, “novelization of The Lobster,” you thought “I need that in my life,” this book is probably for you. Fun though the end was, the more I think about this book, the more I think that the movie “Save Yourselves!” did everything this book is doing but better, funnier, with less gore and believable characters. If you picked this book up on a whim like I did…buckle up is all I can say. (I think my rating is more a 2.5, but since I got this as an ARC and it doesn't have many reviews yet, I'm rounding up.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    What a weird one, I really enjoyed this. I see other reviews talking about this as Horror which, yes technically it is, but it is really only about 15% Horror. It's some of your reading experience but it's certainly not the majority of it. Still, I think some readers may find the designation useful otherwise they might find themselves too disoriented later on. To me, though, this book was quite clear from page one that it was really effing weird and was going to lean into that hard even though t What a weird one, I really enjoyed this. I see other reviews talking about this as Horror which, yes technically it is, but it is really only about 15% Horror. It's some of your reading experience but it's certainly not the majority of it. Still, I think some readers may find the designation useful otherwise they might find themselves too disoriented later on. To me, though, this book was quite clear from page one that it was really effing weird and was going to lean into that hard even though there was little actual evidence of it on the page. There was nothing supernatural about it, rather it was immediately mundane. But there was a spark to it. We start off meeting Remy and Alicia and seeing how they talk about Jen. It is confusing for the first 10-20 pages and it's not until even later that you have a full understanding of who Jen is and why she's even relevant to them at all. And yet, from the very beginning the way they talk about her is charged. She has taken on a role in the rituals of their relationship in a way that may not be recognizable in its specificity, but that has the clear feel of the private language that can develop in couples and families. At first we have a mystery to solve: who is Jen and why does she matter? From there things start to get weird oh so gradually. Some of it is in strange things Remy thinks he sees. But some of it is woven in very naturally through this self-help book that gets passed between the characters and referenced more and more. A kind of The-Secret-esque new age philosophy that keeps popping up until we as readers start to become familiar with it. But much of this goes unnoticed, we are so focused on the inter-character dynamics, so curious to see what will happen when Jen winds up in close quarters with Remy and Alicia. By the time things take a turn, it starts to feel like just about anything could happen. At one point we go from very mild escalations to very extreme ones. I loved it. It is so all over the place, so ridiculous and yet so sharp in its observations. There are all kinds of little reveals, especially in the second half of the book, where we realize that while there is third person narration, it's been so close to Remy and Alicia's points of view that there are many things we didn't see because they didn't see. It becomes really delightfully batshit. I have spent some time bemoaning how little What The Actual Fuck fiction there is written by women out there, but I just read two in a row (the other was the very different but also delightful NIGHTBITCH by Rachel Yoder) and I couldn't be happier. They belong with books like THE HIKE and WHITE TEARS and THE LIBRARY AT MOUNT CHAR. This book may be closer to real life but I think it actually sneaks itself into your brain even more because it is also one of the few books that gets texting, Instagram, and other ways we internet-stalk people we do not actually know very well. It is unafraid to show us the parts of Remy and Alicia that they hide from other people, the embarrassing and weird parts. It can feel like you are seeing things you shouldn't see much of the time. On the other hand, if you aren't captivated pretty early on I'm guessing this is not the book for you. The rhythms and tone of the early chapters continue for most of the book. And even if Remy and Alicia are not particularly likable you need to feel that momentum to follow them for this to really work for you. Content warnings for some rather brutal violence, death and funerals, alcohol use (and probably abuse), references to terminal illness.

  8. 4 out of 5

    abby

    When I read the blurb for this book, I thought it would be awesomely bizarre or an absolute mess. Well, at least now I know. The majority of this book is best summed up as: terrible people do exceedingly boring things. Then the plot switches over to a horror story involving a monster. The very ending is kind of satisfying, but not worth reading through the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alanna Why

    For many years, I had a secret literary shame: I couldn’t stop reading self-help books. Fueled by a desire to combat my anxious and depressive moods, I plowed through self-help books like candy, searching for a guaranteed way to be the happiest, best version of myself. I read The Artist’s Way and devoted myself to daily morning pages and weekly artist dates. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and got rid of everything that no longer sparked joy. I devoured paperbacks by Brené Brown, Gr For many years, I had a secret literary shame: I couldn’t stop reading self-help books. Fueled by a desire to combat my anxious and depressive moods, I plowed through self-help books like candy, searching for a guaranteed way to be the happiest, best version of myself. I read The Artist’s Way and devoted myself to daily morning pages and weekly artist dates. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and got rid of everything that no longer sparked joy. I devoured paperbacks by Brené Brown, Gretchen Rubin, and Cal Newport, combining all their tips and tricks to optimize my colour-coded schedule, time-blocking the most minute of tasks. And after doing all of this, I wasn’t only still prone to anxiety and depression一I was even more tired than I was before, burnt out by the never-ending quest to reach perfection, an unattainable state. This destructive allure of self-improvement is at the core of A Touch of Jen, the first novel by American writer Beth Morgan. Published mid-July by Little Brown, A Touch of Jen is Morgan’s first novel. Billed as “Ottessa Moshfegh meets David Cronenberg,” it more than lives up to that description一to get specific, it’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation meets The Fly. While many contemporary novels written by millennial women get marketed as Moshfegh-esque, A Touch of Jen shares more than one passing similarity with My Year of Rest and Relaxation: the New York City setting, the unlikeability of the uncanny and bizarre protagonists, a character recovering from bulimia, and a delusional quest towards “wellness” motivated by deep trauma and grief. The novel is told from the third-person point-of-view of Remy and Alicia, a couple in their late 20s who have been together for two years and live with a roommate, Jake, in New York City. Both Remy and Alicia work at restaurants and are obsessed with an old coworker of Remy’s, a woman named Jen, who Remy used to have a crush on. The two constantly check Jen’s Instagram一filtered pictures of her on vacation, photo-shopped pictures of her grabbing drinks. They fantasize about her, with Alicia often role-playing as Jen when she’s in bed with Remy. One day, Alicia and Remy run into Jen out of the blue at the Apple Store, where she invites them to come on a surfing trip with her, her boyfriend, and her friends in Montauk. During the trip to Montauk, Jen and her friends introduce Alicia to a self-help book called The Apple Bush. Written by A. B. Fisketjon, “a healer, lifestyle expert, and spiritual counselor,” the book describes manifesting the energy of the universe to become the ultimate version of yourself. Explaining it to Alicia, Jen says, “You know, you should really read The Apple Bush...” “You’re obsessed. Apples don’t even grow on bushes. They grow on trees.” “If you read the book, you would know that’s the point!” Carla says, “It’s about seeing the potential of everyone around you. There’s all this invisible energy flowing around us all the time. What we don’t recognize is that all these little details一words we overhear or images we see in our dreams一are Signifiers of this universal energy. If you learn to recognize these Signifiers of Flow, then you can channel your potential for transformation.” “You can laugh if you want, but that shit is real,” says Jen. Morgan’s skewering of the fallacy of self-improvement was one of the strongest themes in the novel. In an interview with The Rumpus, she stated that this came from her desire to “portray the absurdity and self-absorption of the personal journey or the hero’s journey.” Hearing the advice from The Apple Bush felt eerily familiar: all of the language used around self-help is now mainstream and no longer derided as hippie “woo-woo,” rebranded instead in masculinist and capitalist terms as efficiency, productivity, and personal success. This was clear when several characters told Remy to “reject the tyranny of money over [his] life,” a line that was painfully real to how many perceive manifestation and “energy” work. While A Touch of Jen starts as a typical millennial literary realist novel, in the second half it becomes a full-blown horror novel featuring plenty of “stylized violence,” as Remy would say. The seeds of what’s to come are planted from the first page, inklings of gore and discomfort oozing out of Alicia and Remy from the first few chapters, where they watch a “television show about a spy with exceptional fighting-slash-torturing skills… [where] about once every episode someone gets their kneecaps drilled, or is dissolved in a tub of acid.” The two are unlikeable and bizarre from the start, not only because of their obsession with Jen but with how they speak and communicate with each other. Both Remy and Alicia feel so uncanny and eerie that it’s disquieting to read, an ironic feeling considering Remy later accuses someone else of acting “like a lizard in a human suit.” It’s the same quality that characters in Yargos Lanthimos’ work have: people acting like people, but with something just slightly, disturbingly off. This strangeness and defiance of genre expectations was the best part of A Touch of Jen. In The Rumpus, Morgan stated, “I was just really excited by the idea of starting the book in everyday reality and taking it into this realm of fantasy because books and movies that I really like take risks and go somewhere you’re really not expecting them to go.” Reading A Touch of Jen was one narrative left turn after another一as soon as I got in a groove of where the plot was going, Morgan shifted lanes to a different reality entirely. What starts as a book about a weird couple with an Instagram crush becomes a summer trip gone wrong, then a quest for self-improvement, followed by a surprising accident and its horrific and monstrous consequences. It’s a suspenseful page-turner, but not in a conventional way that feels teasing to the reader. It’s simply so strange that you cannot put it down because you need to figure out where the hell the story is going. In addition to the suspense一arguably, its biggest strength一it’s also brilliantly written, with unexpectedly funny dialogue and surprising use of unlikeable characters as protagonists. I don’t read self-help books anymore. While they may have once helped with a few practical and timeless guidelines (shout-out to journaling for being the MVP of my mental health), there is never a single way to become the best version of yourself. Happiness doesn’t occur from copying someone else’s advice or as A Touch of Jen proves, copying someone else’s persona entirely. ENJOYED THIS REVIEW? It originally appeared in my newsletter, Why's World. Subscribe here for more contemporary book reviews of the queer, bizarre, and bold: alannawhy.substack.com

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine from How Useful It Is

    A different read than what I normally encountered, I enjoyed the humor especially the knock knock joke about someone being in the kitchen. The read was mostly bland. The two main characters don’t have much going on in their lives. They complain a lot about different things. It’s odd that Alicia would put up with pretending to be Jen for Remy’s sake because Remy was obsessed with Jen though readers may think Alicia was obsessed with Jen too. There’s a bit of life to their boring lives when they a A different read than what I normally encountered, I enjoyed the humor especially the knock knock joke about someone being in the kitchen. The read was mostly bland. The two main characters don’t have much going on in their lives. They complain a lot about different things. It’s odd that Alicia would put up with pretending to be Jen for Remy’s sake because Remy was obsessed with Jen though readers may think Alicia was obsessed with Jen too. There’s a bit of life to their boring lives when they attended the surfing trip. After they come home, nothing else interesting was going on. This book started with Remy and Alicia, told in the third person point of view. They were both obsessed with looking at Jen’s photos on multiple social media platforms. Jen used to work with Remy and he’s upset that they didn’t stayed friends after the company closed down. Alicia sometimes pretend to be Jen for role playing with Remy. One day, the couple ran into Jen in real life. Jen reacquainted with Remy and invited both to a surfing trip hosted by her boyfriend Horus. Horus’s a surf instructor so naturally he gave Remy and Alicia lessons because they don’t know how to surf. The story weaved between Alicia and Remy’s thoughts. A Touch of Jen was well written. I read every word up to 50% of the book. I just couldn’t push further. I loved the cover and the idea of following someone on social media and imitating them but Alicia’s imitation was short to just Jen’s mean personality towards Remy. I will donate this book to the Little Free Library next month and hopefully someone will love reading it. xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details Many thanks to Little, Brown and Company for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    3.5 stars What a bizarre book. The first half focuses on a couple both obsessed with an online personality, but for different reasons. It seemed just insecure and embarrassing, but some hints of weird start to creep in. The second half? Well, I don't think anyone could have seen all that coming. 3.5 stars What a bizarre book. The first half focuses on a couple both obsessed with an online personality, but for different reasons. It seemed just insecure and embarrassing, but some hints of weird start to creep in. The second half? Well, I don't think anyone could have seen all that coming.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    Sigh, this book is probably getting a better rating than I feel about it because of its parts, not its sum. The first... 3/4s are a Halle-Butler-esque millennial malaise novel, about instagram influencers and toxic relationships and shitty people. The final quarter should've been my jam -- body horror and psychic weirdness that almost earns the Cronenberg tag in the jacket copy -- but it didn't hang together for me. You can't add a bunch of descriptors to your blurb if they all come in the last Sigh, this book is probably getting a better rating than I feel about it because of its parts, not its sum. The first... 3/4s are a Halle-Butler-esque millennial malaise novel, about instagram influencers and toxic relationships and shitty people. The final quarter should've been my jam -- body horror and psychic weirdness that almost earns the Cronenberg tag in the jacket copy -- but it didn't hang together for me. You can't add a bunch of descriptors to your blurb if they all come in the last quarter of the book and expect people not to feel disappointment when the cool things they came for are rushed to fit at the end. Also, I'm tired of the millennial malaise novel. That's not Beth Morgan's fault and it ain't on her that I didn't enjoy this because of that, but everyone has to have such realizations sometime.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Crystal Palmisano-dillard

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I’m not sure I know what to say about this book. It’s starts off with Alicia and Remy cyber stalking a former coworker of Remy’s, Jen, who they incorporate into their sex life. Alicia seems to want to both be Jen and be with her. Remy just seems like an asshole ‘nice guy’. Unlike other people in the story he doesn’t seem to have family, friends or much of a personality other than being angry all the time. At this point I’m thinking it’s going to be about mental illness or devolve into something I’m not sure I know what to say about this book. It’s starts off with Alicia and Remy cyber stalking a former coworker of Remy’s, Jen, who they incorporate into their sex life. Alicia seems to want to both be Jen and be with her. Remy just seems like an asshole ‘nice guy’. Unlike other people in the story he doesn’t seem to have family, friends or much of a personality other than being angry all the time. At this point I’m thinking it’s going to be about mental illness or devolve into something like You. Then Alicia dies from a freak accident and Remy starts hearing something moving in his apartment at night. This twist I don’t understand. The thing is like a bug that’s a manifestation of the person keeping Remy from living his best life? I don’t know. Maybe I’m not smart enough or just don’t ‘get it’ but this was just weird and confusing as all get out. Of course the bug thing and person keeping him from living his best life is Jen. So he kills her to stop the bug, takes her body back to his apartment (where his roommate is still laying on the floor dead!) and dumps her in the spod thing. Of course zombie Jen combined with Alicia climbs out and snuggles him. The end. Wtf.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is a complete mess. It starts off amazingly. We’re introduced to Remy and Alicia, a couple in their early thirties who share an obsession with Remy’s former coworker Jen. We never really understand why they’re so obsessed, Alicia especially, but that’s not the important part. The obsession itself is fascinating. After a chance encounter with Jen, they’re invited on a surfing trip with her, her boyfriend, and a group of friends. Had the book stayed on this trajectory, it would have been This book is a complete mess. It starts off amazingly. We’re introduced to Remy and Alicia, a couple in their early thirties who share an obsession with Remy’s former coworker Jen. We never really understand why they’re so obsessed, Alicia especially, but that’s not the important part. The obsession itself is fascinating. After a chance encounter with Jen, they’re invited on a surfing trip with her, her boyfriend, and a group of friends. Had the book stayed on this trajectory, it would have been amazing. Alicia is such a fascinating character. But then (spoiler) Alicia is killed off and the book changes genres completely. And it just didn’t work for me. As the book is ending, I’m forcing myself to finish it. By this point, it’s so ridiculous and removed from where it began that I’m not enjoying it anymore. Then the book ends and I’m like… “ok? I guess…” There really doesn’t seem to be a point to it all, or maybe that’s the point? I don’t really know. The premise is so good and it starts out so well that it’s all the more disappointing when it devolves into what it eventually becomes. I’m so tired of these experimental, avant-garde, genre bending novels that turn out to be a muddled, unfocused mess.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mitch Loflin

    Mostly my response is…what the fuck… if anyone would like to read this book so that we can yell about it together, I would welcome that. I truly had a great time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stay Fetters

    "Life is repetitive. Everything occurs in cycles. The waves just emulate the natural cycle of all living things. Don’t resent the repetition, embrace it!" Ottessa Moshfegh! David Cronenberg! When you compare a new novel to two amazing people, you know that this is going to be damn good and bats**t crazy. Reading this book made me feel like that one scene in Hereditary. Where Charlie is enjoying the cool night air while in the car with her brother. She’s feeling it so much that she sticks her head "Life is repetitive. Everything occurs in cycles. The waves just emulate the natural cycle of all living things. Don’t resent the repetition, embrace it!" Ottessa Moshfegh! David Cronenberg! When you compare a new novel to two amazing people, you know that this is going to be damn good and bats**t crazy. Reading this book made me feel like that one scene in Hereditary. Where Charlie is enjoying the cool night air while in the car with her brother. She’s feeling it so much that she sticks her head out the window and then bam! Her head gets cut clean off. That was this book and it was weirdly mind-blowing and fantastic. Being obsessed with someone can take over your whole life. It can even alter how you live and look at your own life. An obsession that deep isn't healthy for anyone and it can even turn into a monster. A monster lurking deep in the shadows, waiting for its moment to pounce. You'll never know when it'll hit but it's there. This book was dark, very bizarre, obsessive, and absolutely hilarious. I didn't know that I could have fun while reading about a couple stalking an ex-coworker on Instagram. It was weird how the two main characters styled their life after the one they call Jen. They based everything off of what would Jen do!? Wow! Just wow! It was the masterpiece of the summer. A Touch of Jen is definitely the twisted book of the summer. There was never a dull moment in this book. You'll never know what's coming next and it's all a great surprise. This is one book that I can read over and over again without getting bored. Beth Morgan has quite the warped mind and I love it. I cannot wait to see what else she has in store for us. All I can say is that I'm really f**king excited to find out!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    A completely unexpected mash-up of genres. What begins as a kinky romantic comedy ends up in Lovecraft territory. Nothing here is what you expect. If you’re open-minded enough, though – not a prisoner of your favorite genres – then it works. If this is all too much for you – if you’re hoping for a double-wedding at the end – then it will fail you badly. For me, it was captivating reading through-out, though I admittedly enjoyed the kinky romantic comedy more than the sci-fi-slash-horror yarn. Af A completely unexpected mash-up of genres. What begins as a kinky romantic comedy ends up in Lovecraft territory. Nothing here is what you expect. If you’re open-minded enough, though – not a prisoner of your favorite genres – then it works. If this is all too much for you – if you’re hoping for a double-wedding at the end – then it will fail you badly. For me, it was captivating reading through-out, though I admittedly enjoyed the kinky romantic comedy more than the sci-fi-slash-horror yarn. After all, it’s a strange and interesting situation we’re dropped into – Remy and Alicia have a thing going where Alicia pretends to be Remy’s crush, Jen, Remy’s gorgeous former coworker whom they follow on social media. Most girlfriends would be insulted by such a request, but Alicia takes to her alternate personality with fervor. Eventually, they run into the actual Jen, are invited to the Hamptons, and, of course, complications ensue. It’s fun, it’s odd, it’s absorbing. The characters are finely drawn. The dialog is sharp and… what is that knocking sound they hear in the middle of the night? What is that strange vision Remy has one late evening? From here on out, nothing can be predicted, always a huge plus for me. Main characters are suddenly, shockingly, dead. Bit players reveal their true identities. It all goes wildly off the rails, but I’m so heavily invested in these characters, so gob-smacked by the direction we’re being taken, that I’m putty in Beth Morgan’s hands. In the end, I’m not entirely sold on it, not sure it truly reaches its potential. I was far more entertained by the first half than the second. The original premise of role-playing to find one’s identity never felt fully realized, which is too bad. It was, by far, the most interesting part of the novel. Could also be that the Lovecraft part – though I loved the off-the-wall-ness of it – was considerably less compelling to me as a storyline. Too sci-fi for me, I guess. So it’s, quite understandably, not going to be for everyone, but might be for people who are looking for something daring and unconventional, without being artsy or pretentious. This one is high in the entertainment category, a whole lotta fun.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Liv

    what, and I cannot stress this enough, the hell did I just read

  19. 5 out of 5

    casandra

    I'm honestly at a loss for words in articulating how I feel about this book. I'm not much into psychedelic horror and everything it entails since it usually ends up confusing me and leaving conclusions unresolved without proper explanations that can satisfy my mind. I suppose that is the beauty of it, but I just never really find myself appreciating its method of storytelling in general. In this particular book, I think the horror part comes in by how horrible the characters are. Every single pe I'm honestly at a loss for words in articulating how I feel about this book. I'm not much into psychedelic horror and everything it entails since it usually ends up confusing me and leaving conclusions unresolved without proper explanations that can satisfy my mind. I suppose that is the beauty of it, but I just never really find myself appreciating its method of storytelling in general. In this particular book, I think the horror part comes in by how horrible the characters are. Every single person in the plot has their ugliest personality traits highlighted so blindingly that there's not much to see beyond them. Something I liked immensely, since reading about these characters made me sick at times. Annoyed, irritated, wishing them dead. Not many can rise all those negative thoughts/feelings from me simultaneously, but A Touch of Jen managed it. Now, the dialogues are the best part! They were absolutely fun and engaging. Reading through my annotations and notes was a wild ride. Remy and Alicia's dynamic is so twisted, that combining their connection with other characters like Jen made it spiral into something more of a train wreck that you can't help but watch. I thought of rating this somewhere around 3 to 3.5 stars because as I've said, I have no fondness for this genre and there were dragging parts. But I chose to take a step back after reading and ponder over it for a minute, and decided that I can finally see the beauty of the psychedelic fucked up factors that this book gave me. I love the ending and how everything played out! There are some questions unanswered naturally, but I find myself at peace with that. This was a bizarre journey back to back from page 1 and its first passage. I can't wait for more things coming from this author. ARC provided by Hachette Book Group through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    What a complete waste of my time.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Very weird, very wild. I really don't know what happened, but I really liked it. Very weird, very wild. I really don't know what happened, but I really liked it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erika Lynn (shelf.inspiration)

    4 Stars See more on my Bookstagram: Shelf.Inspiration Instagram ”The universe is a beautifully arranged place in which even details that seem ordinary are the key to a larger design.” - A Touch of Jen. Remy and Alicia, a couple of insecure service workers, are not particularly happy together—but they are bound by a shared obsession with Jen, a beautiful former co-worker of Remy’s who now seems to be following her bliss as a globe-trotting jewelry designer. In and outside the bedroom, and Alicia 4 Stars See more on my Bookstagram: Shelf.Inspiration Instagram ”The universe is a beautifully arranged place in which even details that seem ordinary are the key to a larger design.” - A Touch of Jen. Remy and Alicia, a couple of insecure service workers, are not particularly happy together—but they are bound by a shared obsession with Jen, a beautiful former co-worker of Remy’s who now seems to be following her bliss as a globe-trotting jewelry designer. In and outside the bedroom, and Alicia’s entire relationship revolves around fantasies of Jen. When they run into Jen, in the flesh, she invites them on a surfing trip to the Hampton’s with her wealthy boyfriend and their group. Once there, Remy and Alicia try to fit into Jen’s social circle, but violent desire and class resentment bubble beneath the surface, threatening to erupt. As disturbances escalate into horror, Remy and Alicia tumble into an uncanny alternate reality, one shaped by their deviant, intoxicating fantasies. Okay, this book is so wild! The story follows couple Remy and Alicia who become obsessed with a girl named Jen. They follow her every move and when they are invited on a surfing trip by Jen, they attend. What follows is a deepening obsession and the changing of their realities. This book is so hard to describe as it is a blend of so many genres! It really took me by surprise and at points I had no idea where the story was going to go next. You definitely need to keep an open mind if you decide to read this! Overall, the plot worked for me because it was so out there, weird, and it didn’t try to be super “realistic” but it did have a lot to say about some real topics. I am definitely looking forward to reading other people’s reviews about this, and seeing what they made of it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Peter Dyer

    A Touch of Jen was a promising debut that seems poised to garner lots of buzz upon its release this summer. It's a beach read for unhinged girls and gays, similar to the fiction of Halle Butler with the magical realism of Mona Awad's best work. Reading A Touch of Jen is similar, in a lot of parts, to vomiting in the toilet the morning after a late-night bender that was only fun for a couple hours. I think I mean that in a good way? First things first, lets talk about that cover. A Touch of Jen ma A Touch of Jen was a promising debut that seems poised to garner lots of buzz upon its release this summer. It's a beach read for unhinged girls and gays, similar to the fiction of Halle Butler with the magical realism of Mona Awad's best work. Reading A Touch of Jen is similar, in a lot of parts, to vomiting in the toilet the morning after a late-night bender that was only fun for a couple hours. I think I mean that in a good way? First things first, lets talk about that cover. A Touch of Jen may have some of my favorite cover art ever. A cute graphic that would belong on any good vaporwave Tumblr blog, with an animated woman perched on top in a floral dress, seemingly peering out into the void, her face glitching out underneath her hair. Everything down to the little sparkle on the computer demands to be photographed and blogged about. The cover also matches the book quite nicely, as A Touch of Jen is mainly a book about artifice and obsession, how we can become so consumed with the idea of a person online, our obsession growing so deep that it produces almost disastrous results. A Touch of Jen centers around Remy and Alicia, an eerily awkward couple who spends most of their time obsessing over the Instagram of a woman named Jen, someone who Remy used to work with. They are constantly flipping through pictures of Jen, paying attention to her every move on social media. Their obsession even gets to the point where, during sex, Alicia has a picture of Jen's face taped over her own. When one day Remy and Alicia run into Jen out and about, she invites them to go to her boyfriend's family's house in the Hamptons for the weekend. Thus begins a setpiece scene near the beginning of the book where a bunch of weird stuff happens, like sleepwalking attacks and strange creatures running around. When they get back to Brooklyn, more weird stuff continues to happen, but at a very slow pace. The slow burn pacing of this novel is both its best and worst feature. As someone whose favorite movie is The Shining, I love when tension is slowly built, mounting in a climax of absolute mania. Based on the back cover description, I thought I was going to absolutely love A Touch of Jen, but found that I only liked it. This book, which should have been much shorter, is 300-ish pages, and many of those pages are meandering scenes of millennial malaise. It's a typical problem with a debut novel, and author finding their groove in a certain tangent, but then realizing that they have a story to tell. This makes for a particularly frustrating plot structure. We have about 260 pages of a typical Halle Butler novel: characters milling about being horrible to each other, engaging in unhealthy obsessions, the occasional strange occurance happening. For the last 40ish pages, we get an almost Stephen King-esque horror/magical realism novel. I got whiplash from this shift, and not in a good way. It felt uneven, like the tension wasn't built enough for all the strange and macabre stuff to just start spiraling out of control. I had a lot of questions at the end, and found it to have that similar hallucinatory, was-any-of-this-even-real conclusion that Mona Awad's Bunny had (the very reason why I was not a fan of that book). That being said, Beth Morgan knows how to craft a horrible character like some of the modern millenial-malaise greats (Halle Butler, Ottessa Moshfegh). Each character in this book is nasty, with ill intentions floating beneath the New-Agey mantras they try to incorporate into everyday life. Their sickness and foul energy fills the book with an overwhelming cloud of anxiety. I was amazed at Morgan's ability to do this, it made me want to work to become a better fiction writer. One of the biggest problems with this book was that I felt it didn't really know what it wanted to be. As is typical of a debut novel, it felt like a sum of its influences, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I could tell where Morgan was pulling her influences from while writing this book. It's cool to read an author so inspired, but I look forward to seeing her find her groove a bit more in her next book, allowing all the parts to form a more cohesive whole. Despite its flaws, I think A Touch of Jen is a worthy addition to the "books for feral women" canon that was created by a user on Goodreads. If anything, this book made me feel what any good debut novel should: somewhat satisfied, but excited for what the author will do next.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of A Touch of Jen. First, I really like the cover; its uncomfortable and alluring. Second, the story is odd and not for everyone. It took me time to really get into it. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** I'm not going to lie, I nearly DNF this so many times. I couldn't care less about the story or the characters, much less understand what was the point of it all. The first half is about Remy and Alicia and their obsession with Jen, Remy's former co-worker. Alicia finds Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of A Touch of Jen. First, I really like the cover; its uncomfortable and alluring. Second, the story is odd and not for everyone. It took me time to really get into it. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** I'm not going to lie, I nearly DNF this so many times. I couldn't care less about the story or the characters, much less understand what was the point of it all. The first half is about Remy and Alicia and their obsession with Jen, Remy's former co-worker. Alicia finds a renewed sense of self esteem and confidence when she acts like Alicia, talks like her, dresses like her. Remy is convinced he and Jen are meant to be together. When Jen invites Remy and Alicia to her boyfriend's mother's house for a weekend of surf and fun, the first hints of surreality begin to happen. After an eventful trip, Remy and Alicia continue on with the minutiae of their daily lives, enduring thankless jobs in the restaurant industry when something unexpected happens to one of them. Something I did not expect. That made me sit up and take notice. Then, things get weird. And that's all I'm gonna say. You have to read to find out what. I like weird, but then it depends on what kind of weird. The weird part was intriguing. I just wished it had shown up earlier. I'm not sure how to categorize this book, but maybe I shouldn't do that. Y et some people like to group books according to genre and type of story, which I understand. I feel the same. Is this sci=fi? Philosophy? Horror? Offbeat? Quirky? Is it all of the above? Or should you just read it and decide for yourself what it means? A Touch of Jen is whatever you want it to mean. This isn't for everyone but if you're open minded and looking for something really, really different to read, then give this a try. I didn't dislike this, but I didn't like it enough to give it 3 stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robby Harrington

    WHAT DID I JUST READ and why did I love it so much?! I completely devoured A TOUCH OF JEN in two days and while I’m still reeling from the absolute absurdity of the story, I have to admit that this debut by Beth Morgan truly and unapologetically slaps. Part horror, sci-if and–yeah, I’ll say it–a sprinkle of romance, A TOUCH OF JEN is a novel that will keep you mesmerized and unable to look away as the bizarre story unfolds on the page. I loved it and now all I want to do is curl up into a depriv WHAT DID I JUST READ and why did I love it so much?! I completely devoured A TOUCH OF JEN in two days and while I’m still reeling from the absolute absurdity of the story, I have to admit that this debut by Beth Morgan truly and unapologetically slaps. Part horror, sci-if and–yeah, I’ll say it–a sprinkle of romance, A TOUCH OF JEN is a novel that will keep you mesmerized and unable to look away as the bizarre story unfolds on the page. I loved it and now all I want to do is curl up into a deprivation tank and reflect on what I just read. So good, highly recommend! Thank you to the publisher for sending this advanced, finished copy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Milana M (acouplereads)

    Remy and Alicia are a particularly unhappy but they do have one common thread that connects them - their obsession with a past coworker of Remy’s named Jen. Jen is everything Alicia wants to be and everything Remy wants for himself. As the two obsess over Jen through their sexual fantasies together and individually, the last thing they expect is to run into Jen and be invited to a weekend trip with her. From here on their obsession turns deadly and lines are blurred between reality and fantasy. W Remy and Alicia are a particularly unhappy but they do have one common thread that connects them - their obsession with a past coworker of Remy’s named Jen. Jen is everything Alicia wants to be and everything Remy wants for himself. As the two obsess over Jen through their sexual fantasies together and individually, the last thing they expect is to run into Jen and be invited to a weekend trip with her. From here on their obsession turns deadly and lines are blurred between reality and fantasy. What. A. Ride. A Touch of Jen was a complete “I did not expect that, what the heck just happened book” and I loved it. I didn’t expect this to turn into a full blown out horror novel but I’m so glad it did. It’s very rare that a book whose entire cast of characters is loathsome turns out to be an incredible read. A Touch of Jen had zero likeable characters, maybe that one roommate was alright and the random couple we know little about, but overall nobody was likeable. And yet, I loved this book. The complicated dynamics of social media and how that shapes our reality and sense of self in the “real world” is examined in this title. It had me thinking a lot and reflecting on how social media is changing the way we think and almost creating a dual personality of sorts? It’s just so fascinating to me and we’re only in the novel stages of this phenomenon that psychologists will be studying for years to come. A Touch of Jen touches upon these themes from an angle that isn’t pretty but will make you come to a sudden stop. The pacing of the book was done in such a way that will make you pause several times and wonder if you’re reading the same book, adding to the sense of mind bending reality that the themes touch upon. It completely took over my time and I desperately wanted to get back to it when I had to go do something else. A book that lingers with me afterwards is always a sign of a good book. Thank you @littlebrown for the ARC in exchange for an honest review, 5✨! That small reference to @jakegyllenhaal was the cherry on top.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Thompson

    I almost don’t want to give anything away about A Touch of Jen, the explosive debut novel from Beth Morgan. My advice to those who have not read it is to stop reading this review right now, avoid reading any plot descriptions, and just start reading the book. I’ve said this before, but I’m a huge fan of how female authors are writing seemingly innocent, predictable novels, which get more and more bonkers as the plot progresses. Two recent examples of this are Silvia Moreno Garcia’s wildly popular I almost don’t want to give anything away about A Touch of Jen, the explosive debut novel from Beth Morgan. My advice to those who have not read it is to stop reading this review right now, avoid reading any plot descriptions, and just start reading the book. I’ve said this before, but I’m a huge fan of how female authors are writing seemingly innocent, predictable novels, which get more and more bonkers as the plot progresses. Two recent examples of this are Silvia Moreno Garcia’s wildly popular Mexican Gothic, and You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce. I love being surprised by a wildly fantastical final act. On the surface, A Touch of Jen is a fairly uncomplicated premise; a young couple, Remy and Alicia, lead relatively dull lives, and form an odd bond by cyberstalking one of Remy’s ex co-workers, the titular Jen. Remy seems to spend all his mental energy dissecting Jen’s every post. Surprisingly, Alicia is okay with this, even embracing it as part of their sex life. An unexpected encounter with Jen leads to Remy and Alicia accompanying Jen, her boyfriend, and her close circle of friends on a surfing vacation. There, Alicia begins to embrace Jen’s mindset of “living in the now”, inspired by a popular self-help book called The Apple Bush. Alicia begins a slow transformation into Jen, with weird consequences. Throughout this whole book, there is a strong feeling of unease. Uncanny encounters with a parrot, actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and strange knocking sounds, give the whole novel a sense that things are “not quite right”. And guess what? They’re not! In the last chapter of the book, things go completely nuts. If you think you can predict how things go, believe me, you cannot. Or, if you do, you either need to urgently seek professional help, or come and have a drink with me and be my new best friend. A Touch of Jen is an audacious book. Beth Morgan absolutely nails the obsessive, voyeuristic nature of social media, and the cadence of speech of a certain sect of millennials. One character’s outrage at receiving a telephone call, rather than a text, made me laugh out loud. But it was the last chapter of the book that really blew me away. I had absolutely no idea where things were going, I just knew that I was in the author’s capable hands. Even after finishing the book, I still don’t think I fully comprehend what went down. On the surface, it seems like a complete 180 switch, but things that happen in the final chapter are seeded extremely carefully throughout the entire novel. Morgan is an evil genius, with a deft and delirious hand. More bonkers books, please! I’m excited to see what Beth Morgan does next.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emma Bone

    I read reviews of this book and almost everyone includes a “wtf did I just read” reaction …. BUT ITS SO TRUE. This horror, sci-fi, social comedy WAS wildly addictive to read. The book cover drew me in but as soon as I read the summary I KNEW I had to read this one. I despise almost every character to a certain extent but it didn’t stop me from having an absolute blast reading this. Idk if this be something I’d recommend to people but wow wow wow wow - I deeply enjoyed it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)

    When I think about all the books that won't be published because books like this one keeps taking space, I just... What did I just read? Why did I waste my time? 1/5 When I think about all the books that won't be published because books like this one keeps taking space, I just... What did I just read? Why did I waste my time? 1/5

  30. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    This is an interesting book. The first 3/4 of the book is sharp, tight, dark, funny, and well written. The main characters are millennials in various forms of misery; they're deliciously unlikable. Their direct and indirect interactions, their search for meaning and fulfillment and fun in life drive the story forward towards...something. The tension has built, change is coming, and then...The last 1/4 of the book....Hmmmmmm. Personally, I dug it. It's weird and wacky and I was in the mood for we This is an interesting book. The first 3/4 of the book is sharp, tight, dark, funny, and well written. The main characters are millennials in various forms of misery; they're deliciously unlikable. Their direct and indirect interactions, their search for meaning and fulfillment and fun in life drive the story forward towards...something. The tension has built, change is coming, and then...The last 1/4 of the book....Hmmmmmm. Personally, I dug it. It's weird and wacky and I was in the mood for weird and wacky, but...I'm not so sure that the author didn't just not know where to take the story and had a deadline to meet. It arguably may have been her intended finale all along, but I can't help thinking that there's an alternate ending out there (perhaps in an alternate universe?) more consistent in tone to the rest of the book. If you read it - let me know - I'd love to discuss it more with you. If you don't, you may be saving yourself some frustration

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