Nancy O'Toole's Reviews > Skinned

Skinned by Robin Wasserman
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May 30, 10

bookshelves: science-fiction, young-adult, library
Read from May 28 to 29, 2010, read count: once

Lia Kahn lives the perfect life. She's beautiful, smart, rich, athletic and worshiped by all of her peers. Then the accident happens, completely destroying her fragile human body. Her parents decide to keep her alive by downloading her consciousness into a mechanical body. When Lia wakes up, she is horrified at what she has become. Upon arriving at home, she finds that her family, friends, and boyfriend struggle to accept her new “skinner” body. Her perfect life has been decimated, and Lia must determine what her new existence will entail. Will she chose to spend her time with the outsider Auden, or the strange group of skinners who have rejected the idea of being human?

Skinned is a young adult science fiction novel, and the first book in a trilogy. I finally decided to pick it up when I heard a podcast featuring the author, Robin Wasserman. I could not help but be fascinated by the story. Admittedly many aspects of the plot are similar to Mary E.Pearson's The Adoration of Jenna Fox although the book itself is a different beast. Lia's story is far grimmer, and the ending much more depressing. Lia herself probably would have been the type of person I would have silently despised in high school. She's beautiful, popular, and often rather cruel. Still, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her as she descends from grace because of her mechanical body. The cruelty that she suffers at the hands of her former friends and peers was a little surprising to me. In a way, I could understand why they rejected her. After all, to them Lia was no longer their friend, but a monster that walked and talked like her in a mechanical body. Still, I couldn't imagine treating another human being the way they did, even if there was some sort of doubt on the person's humanness. Although Lia wasn't always the most likable protagonist, I felt as if she reacted in a way that most people would, given her unique situation, and that I could not dislike her as a result.

Skinned is an unpredictable book that's not afraid to venture into some uncomfortable territory. From the beginning chapters, when Lia is learning how to walk and talk again, to the final pages, the book is not afraid to emphasize just how not human Lia herself has become. While reading the book, I could not help but ask myself if Lia was really Lia anymore. Did they truly transport her consciousness into a mechanical form? Was she merely a copy of the original Lia? Did being a machine mean that she couldn't be human, even if she felt human? The vision Wasserman creates of the future is also quite grim, taking many things that we worry about now and pushing them to extremes. It paints a future where museums, libraries, and any outside entertainment centers have been truly replaced by the internet. Where the divide between the rich and the poor is so extreme that the poor are isolated in large improvised cities, while the rich have everything they could want at their fingertips, from digital concerts to customizable babies. Where religious war caused many people to give up on God, save for the crazies (although I found it interesting that even though lack of faith was supposedly the norm, so many people still question whether their could be a God).

I think it's safe to say that my expectations were completely blown out of the water by Skinned. It's a fascinating sci-fi book that reads very fast and is filled with twists and turns. Looks like I'll be picking up the next book in the series, Crashed, the next time I hit the library.
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Reading Progress

05/29/2010 page 195
52.99% "So far, so good :)"

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