Author: Robin Wasserman
Genre: YA/Science Fiction/Dystopian
Lia Kahn was perfect: rich, beautiful, popular — until the accident that nearly killed her. Now she has been downloaded into a new body that only looks human. Lia will never feel pain again, she will never age, and she can’t ever truly die. But she is also rejected by her friends, betrayed by her boyfriend, and alienated from her old life.
Forced to the fringes of society, Lia joins others like her. But they are looked at as freaks. They are hated…and feared. They are everything but human, and according to most people, this is the ultimate crime — for which they must pay the ultimate price.
Lia become what is known as a skinner after her body is totally destroyed in an car accident. Her brain is uploaded before she dies and then downloaded into a mechanical humanoid. Lia still feels and acts as she always has, well her body has to be retrained to respond to her commands; her downloaded artificial brains are a perfect replica of Lia’s organic one. But all her family and friends are horrified by the result and Lia is rejected by everyone who she holds dear. She now has to come to terms with just what her position in society is now. Is she human or machine? No matter what she feels, is she even Lia anymore?
A few years ago I read The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson, and I loved it, it was very well written, in fact an outstanding piece of work. There is a mystery as to what is going on that gradually gets revealed as the story sucks the reader in and allows them to care for Jenna. There are no secrets in SKINNED, in fact I was not really any the wiser as to the point of the story at the end than I was at the start. SKINNED has lots of technobabble and the reader is supposed to make sense of what it all means as author Robin Wasserman didn’t. If I was unable to understand it how is a young girl who cares for nothing expect feeling good supposed to understand. It was very hard to sympathise with Lia as she just wasn’t lovable – she was such a precious little princess and her ‘poor bugger me’ attitude just went on and on. The sympathy did come eventually; it just took the author a long time to get me to that point. Let’s be realistic, Lia didn’t ask to be skinned, the decision was solely that of her father, but it is Lia who has to cope with people screaming at her that she is not fit to live and should be destroyed. It is Lia who has to cope with all her friends, her boyfriend and eventually even her family rejecting her. But there is help and there are people who want her to be part of their group. It is just that Lia takes a while to even start to get there, and it takes a fairly drastic event for her to start figuring it out.
I found myself being more interested in what wasn’t being told. Lia only tells us what she cares about, and the predicament of those outside her life is not on the list. What is gleaned is that nuclear war has decimated the world, and the survivors were further whittled down by radiation sickness and disease. Now only the rich live cushy and protected lives in exclusive suburbs – everyone else lives in ruins with no energy, no future, little food and horrendous deformities. There is a glimpse of this world in the book and I am guessing more will be learned in the subsequent books. I am just not sure I will be picking them up to see, I just didn’t engage with the story at all.
Rating: D – Average. Was better to read than to do the housework
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