Review

Kiss

by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

True to Ted Dekker's signature style, KISS has all the elements
that make for a suspenseful read: an intriguing plot riddled with
chilling possibilities, characters who may or may not be who they
seem to be, elaborate twists and turns that keep you guessing, and
moments when you come close to vocalizing the thoughts in your
head, like "Don't trust him!" and "Don't go there!"

Adding to all that is the writer's voice of Erin Healy, who
lends authenticity and a female perspective to the main character,
Shauna McAllister, who awakens from a coma to discover that she has
no memory of the last six months of her life. Amnesia can be a
tough sell to readers who have seen it used too often as a cheap
and quick fix for a flagging storyline, but here, Dekker and Healy
add a fascinating twist: Shauna's amnesia is intentional, provoked
by a sinister cabal determined to keep her from exposing a scandal
that will demolish the presidential campaign of Texas Senator
Landon McAllister --- her own father.

Soon enough, the tables turn on those responsible for the
"accident" that caused Shauna's coma and left her beloved brother,
Rudy, mentally and physically disabled. Shauna discovers that
through physical contact, she can steal other people's memories,
totally erasing them from the person's mind. She soon realizes that
she can use this paranormal gift to her own advantage in her
efforts to get at the real cause of her accident, the motivation
behind it and the reason so many people are either getting killed
or being threatened.

After a somewhat sluggish start, KISS moves along quickly; once
the pace picks up, it slows down only when the reader needs a bit
of a break from the suspense. There's no doubt that Dekker's loyal
fans and many new readers will find this to be a satisfying read
and even better than some of his previous efforts.

There were a few issues with the primary characters. Shauna
wakes up from her coma to a world populated by domineering
personalities. Some are downright mean, starting with her distant
father and her wicked stepmother. For two people who hope to move
into the White House in mere months, they certainly lack grace and
even the pretense of being decent people, not to mention any
concern that their abusive treatment of Shauna might compel her to
write a tell-all someday.

They and the other people at Shauna's bedside are calling the
shots in her life, and Shauna doesn't put up much of a fight. Maybe
it's just me, but drugged or not, I would find my fighting voice if
I discovered I had been given experimental drugs while I was out
cold --- and with my estranged father's consent, no less. Shauna,
who is all of 28, doesn't even raise a stink when she finds out
that her Wicked Stepmother has confiscated her laptop. There's
more, but suffice it to say that all this dilutes Shauna's strength
as a sympathetic character (which may also explain why she has no
friends who can help her remember her recent past). And yet, this
is the same young woman who later boldly confronts a bad guy, gets
right up in his face and devises a complex scheme that saves the
day.

Elsewhere, Dekker and Healy seem out of their element when it
comes to presidential campaigns. The election is several weeks away
(Election Day in this world mysteriously has been changed to the
second Tuesday in November, by the way), and yet Landon, a major
presidential candidate, has an inordinate amount of privacy. The
media is uncharacteristically absent, which is convenient given all
the clandestine comings and goings at the McAllister estate. And
some of the McAllister family secrets that are exposed in the end
surely would have been discovered early on by any political vetting
team worth its salt.

The faith element in KISS is nonintrusive and subtle enough to
find favor with a secular audience. Dekker and Healy (Dekker's
editor on several previous books) are set to team up on several
more books in the future, which certainly will be to the liking of
many of Dekker's readers. All in all, KISS makes for a satisfying
read, as long as you don't overthink the problem areas and get hung
up on those pesky anomalies and inconsistencies.

Reviewed by Marcia Ford (misfit@marciaford.com) on January 22, 2011

Kiss
by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

  • Publication Date: January 6, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson
  • ISBN-10: 1595544704
  • ISBN-13: 9781595544704