Note: This is the fifth of the series and yet it reads quite well as a standalone. It took some time to get the terminologies straight but eventually, it came easier as I read alone.
Untouchable is the story of two men who were considered Untouchable. One is the son of Captain Robin Lang of the Huan Police Force, Max; the other is Michael Banner, a medic onboard the Qatar. Each have their own reasons for being untouchables, each define the lives of two best friends. Both men are ‘om,’ short for homosexual.
Let’s start with Max. He is the son of Robin Lang and Robin is very protective of him. When Max begins to show signs of being an om, Robin is scared, he is angry, he is fearful. He fears men will not treat the boy right. When he sees Max’s crush on his best friend, Alan Stewart, he flips. Literally. Thus ends the friendship between the two men and Robin simmers in anger. The reasons, you have to read yourselves, I cannot risk spoilers here at this point.
Now let us consider Michael. He is an om, he admits to it, but his being a medic onboard the Qatar is risky because of that status. Thus, he cannot risk admitting to being an om. The regulations clearly states he cannot work as a medic if he is one. But he falls for Alan Stewart and Alan falls for him. Alan, so much older, cannot believe this beautiful young man would even consider him, but then, Alan feels the same way. And this is where the complications begins.
Alan rescues Max from certain rape and probably death but is stunned shot by the third assailant. When he wakes up, he is blamed by Robin to be the assailant placing his integrity and career at risk. He has an alibi, Michael, but if Michael steps up, his career would be put at risk and where would both end? In the sidelines, Robin’s anger is focused on Alan unwilling to even consider any other assailant possible. Why? Again, please read…
Thus the convoluted mess that is Robin’s actions affect everyone onboard the Qatar and people are asking why Robin is acting like he is. Max’s statement is imperative to clear Alan but he is still in a coma. It is left to Michael to step up to the challenge without risking his career. Alan is angry at Robin for even thinking he would harm Max, the boy he saw born and grow up into a stellar young man.
In the meanwhile, we have a mystery to solve: who are the assailants and why did they target Max in particular? That is the question that spurs this story on until the very last page. Be warned, there are many twists and turns that can give you whiplash at best, but its all for a good reason.
In this space-age story, the oms are still considered anathema in certain parts. The same bigotry survives at this time as it does today, the same fears for those who just realize their sexuality live on. For all the sci-fi action and mystery going on here, the author managed to make this a very light read, although the pace slows down in certain areas. Overall, this is a standalone read but I would recommend (***note to self) reading the first four. Just to get a better picture of this new world.