Cornmaven's Reviews > The Secret Under My Skin

The Secret Under My Skin by Janet McNaughton
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's review
Dec 27, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: high-school
Read in December, 2009

I liked this story of a post-global warming/misuse of technology world, where there are opposing factions, autocratic rule, resistance movements, etc., with children caught in the crossfire. The protagonist is in a orphanage-labor camp and is chosen to assist a soon-to-be "bio-indicator", a person who is like a mine canary for environmental toxins and changes.

There's discussion about fear of science being a bad thing, and also a lot of weaving (in fact there is a guild called the Weavers) of ancient, mystical worldviews and modern worldviews. The protagonist needs to be in the future generation's salvation group, but is of course the unlikely candidate, and that is part of the discovery throughout the story.

However, I had trouble keeping track of the various factions, people, and philosophies that were being presented, all throughout the book. Part of it had to do with the author's decision to just insert clues and little tidbits along the way. But I think the main problem was the sentence structure, in her attempt to do the slow reveal. I loved her post-apocalyptic descriptions of devices that we know instantly, and how the reader had to figure out what it actually was. But there were sentences involving two women, for example, and she would use "her" at some point, and I really couldn't figure out who "her" was, because of the structure and my difficulty in keeping up with who was on what 'team' and who held what ideology. A little too much subtlety and obfuscation for me.

But I liked the story. And the characters were complex enough to be of continuing interest. I cared about all of them, the mark of a good tale.
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