Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Review: Skinned

By Robin Wasserman

The Download was supposed to change the world. It was supposed to mean the end of aging the end of death, the birth of a new humanity. But it wasn't supposed to happen to someone like Lia Kahn.

And it wasn't supposed to ruin her life.

Lia knows she should be grateful she didn't die in the accident. The Download saved her--but it also changed her, forever. She can deal with being a freak. She can deal with the fear in her parents' eyes and the way her boyfriend flinches at her touch. But she can't deal with what she knows, deep down, every time she forces herself to look in the mirror: She's not the same person she used to be.

Maybe she's not even a person at all.

Why I read it: I was at the library and saw it on the shelf. The cover and pitch (girl dies, brain transplanted into a new body) seemed cool, so I took it.

 What I liked: The concept and setting were both very well executed. First off, the idea of a brain transplant is hardly new, but Wasserman put a unique twist on it by making Lia immortal. The whole idea of the Skinners being shunned created an interesting conflict (a little forced at times, though). This novel is supposedly about ‘finding out who we really are inside’ and it contains some fairly good philosophical reflections on that.
The Second book in the trilogy

Also, the futuristic society that Wasserman creates felt real. There’s a whole set of new slang, lots of new technology (including cool clothes) and a super cool version of the internet. On the whole it was a very well thought out world that felt close enough to our own to be recognizable, but far enough away so that it’s obviously futuristic.

What I disliked: When I picked this up from the library I thought it was going to be a Sci-fi action thriller. After all, it’s futuristic, a bit of a dystopia, talks about brain transplants… My main issue with this book is that it seems to promise action and a noble quest, and what it delivers is 200 pages of Lia trying to find out who she is, and then 100 pages of something resembling romance. Romance lovers may enjoy this book, but I don’t like romance stories at the best of times, and especially not when they come in Sci-fi packaging.

My other dislike was that there’s pretty much no plot. The first third of this book was just her sitting around in a hospital learning about what was wrong with her. It’s not until the last 50 pages that plot really kicks in. Throughout the whole story I was asking myself, ‘What does the protagonist want?’ The answer: ‘To be alive again.’ She can’t be alive again. Thus, the entire book is basically her coming to terms with her ‘death’. This just gets really frustrating, because, as the readers, we know that what Lia wants is impossible by page 50, but it takes her about 250 more pages for her to figure that out.

The third book in the trilogy
From a Christian Perspective: Here are some other major dislikes: There’s a fair bit of swearing, including frequent use of the F-word. There are no direct sex scenes, but it’s certainly discussed. The characters make out several times. This is not a clean book.

Also, this book directly talks about Christians as the ‘Faithers’, a group of religious extremists who hate Lia and think she’s some sort of abomination. Christianity is portrayed as something that went out of style a long time ago, but some weak people refuse to give it up. Near the end of the book Lia catches her father ‘praying’; proof of how desperate and broken he is.

To buy or not to buy: This book may interest some romance lovers or people who just completely like futuristic societies. To anyone else—especially Christian readers—I would never recommend it. 

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