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The Loosening Skin

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  44 reviews
When people shed their skin every seven years, it’s just a fact of life that we will cast off all the attachments of our old life. And when our loves are part of us, those memories of love can be bought, if you know the right people.

Introducing the new drug, Suscutin, that will prevent the moult. Now you can keep your skin forever. Now you never need to change who you are.
Paperback, 200 pages
Published October 22nd 2018 by Unsung Stories (first published October 20th 2018)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  187 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Lulu // the Book Rookery
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed-2018
Can I just start by saying, if you haven’t read anything by Aliya Whiteley before, do it now. The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whiteley is such a hard hitting novel that reaches you on so many levels. You read the synopsis and think, boy, this is weird, but honestly, it makes the most sense. It feels like what The Time Traveler’s Wife should have been — a more realistic version with much better writing.

In this new dystopian world Whiteley builds, humans shed their skin regularly. When they do, all of
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, bought-2018
I have no idea what to say about this yet, except that I thought it was very good. It’s fragmented, or at least oddly shaped, like a novella that grew an extra limb or two (which, given the acknowledgements, sounds like exactly what happened). This makes it hard to get a handle on: it makes structural and thematic use of its lack of cohesion, its lack of synthesis. I read it avidly though, because it has an ease of movement that I remember from The Arrival of Missives. It isn’t as good as that i ...more
Leo Robertson
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
A really interesting idea!

One of my favourite types of story is the "It Follows"-style central metaphor (or symbol or whatever.) It's almost clear what the symbol means, but it's elusive enough for audience interpretation.

For a fiction version, Naomi Kritzer's "Field Biology of the Wee Fairies" is a good example (and a short, easy, compelling read):

The fairies almost stand in for something in reality, but they juuuust don't. And of course they shouldn't:
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, scka
This was (as ever with Whiteley) an unsettling read. What is love anyway? How much does it shape who we are? Not an easy question to answer, but this book is preoccupied with it. Love, loss, friendship; are they worth chasing? At what cost? If you're interested in these themes then give this a read :)

Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Imagine a world where every few years you aged your skin and became a different person

This is an amazingly thoughtful and unusual story you should give a try from a brilliant writer
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The nitty-gritty: Whiteley cuts to the heart of love in this emotionally powerful futuristic tale, where changing the way you feel about someone is as easy as peeling off your old skin.

Aliya Whiteley writes very odd stories, but now that I’ve read three of her books, I look forward to that “oddness” because her stories all have wonderful layer
I'm not quite sure what I think of this odd little reflection on the fleeting nature of love and the things we hang on to. It's one of those reads that I liked less the further I got. It's my first Aliya Whiteley and I loved her prose - deft, emotionally evocative - but the second half with its unexpected shift in narrator left me completely at sea.

I'll let it settle for a few days, but currently considering it a curiosity rather than a new favourite.

Full review to follow.
Stephen Curran
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
A superb idea but, frustratingly, not a superb novel. In an alternate reality, the end of love happens with a literal shedding of the skin: the memories of devotion remain but the feeling is cast away. Some people burn the discarded cutis, some people bury it or hide it, but afterwards they are all irreversibly changed. Sadly, the author struggles to find a single engaging story to spin from this premise and ends up constantly switching focus and skipping impatiently between time lines, making f ...more
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cor Blimey.

I love Whiteley’s books, they always give me something to think about. She has an absolute talent for ramming such short books with such astounding ideas, with clear bright delivery that leaves you thinking, thinking, thinking. This book has properly got under my skin and will stay with me for a long time.
Christina Pilkington
*3.5 stars
Peter Haynes
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an affecting read. From the drawing of the characters to the subtle explanation of the workings of the author's core idea, The Loosening Skin is a forensic yet heartfelt work, which holds up a warped mirror to our wants and needs. Like so many books I love it invites re-reading, once more to admire the fluid yet consistent threading of timeframes into the whole.
Ross Jeffery
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Loosening Skin is so unique, and breathtakingly weird that one can’t help but stand back and be amazed. It’s a new breed of horror from a strikingly powerful emerging talent and a book that I just couldn’t get enough of – I read the whole thing in a couple of sittings, such is the readability of Whiteley’s prose and storytelling prowess.

The Loosening Skin is in a way like the bastard child of an orgy that involved David Cronenberg, Naomi Booth’s ‘Sealed‘ with a little sideline fluffing from
Priya Sharma
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Aliya Whiteley's work always excites and impresses me. She knows how to turn an idea inside out and look at it from all angles. She knows how to write in the interesting spaces between the literary and the genre. Long may she reign.

There are sad cases and happy ever after stories everywhere, and sometimes there are both rolled up in the same skin.

Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very occasionally, I’ll read a piece of writing that takes my breath away. It’s rare, but it does happen from time to time; The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough immediately springs to mind. The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whiteley has found a place on this very select list. Where Pinborough’s work explores how we view and try to understand death, Whiteley’s work picks apart the nature of love in all its forms.

Rose Allington acts as the narrator of her own story, and this offers insight into her
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I'm giving this 2.5 stars.
For a book with a message about love, I felt very little love for this book.
This intended to give a meaning to love and what it means to choose love and loose love, but I just wasn't feeling it.
Also the characters didn't feel whole to me. They felt like the lifeless skin layers that where shedded so often in this book.
The main character, Rose, is said to be this person that has a difficult experience with the "loosing of the skin". It is supposed to be instant, she
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not love this nearly as much as the book that first introduced Aliya Whiteley's genius to me (The Arrival Of Missives -- go pick it up, it's amazing,) but it was still an incredibly deep and powerful meditation on an important aspect of the human condition, examined through a sci-fi what-if filter. In the case of The Loosening Skin, that aspect is love and the filter is this: humankind moults off its skin every seven years or so, shedding with that skin all manner of prior attachments. Pri ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
This book was gifted to me, and the only book I have ever read that I felt I had to give a (low) review for.

Technically, this book was well written, and the author clearly has some flair as a wordsmith and scene setter. Further, the realistic consequences as a result of worldbuilding were relatively well done . However, it was a drag to get into, with rather flat characters with little realistic motivation. This is not necessarily a problem -Asimov was notable for his flat characters, but they
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
You can find my review of The Loosening Skin on my book blog, Bastian's Book Reviews.

The Loosening Skin is another very smart, high concept, immersive novel by Aliya Whiteley. She is truly one of the most original talents writing speculative fiction at the moment.

The novel is set in a world where humans shed their skins every few years. And with the skin, they shed something crucial: (romantic & erotic) love. So, every seven or eight or ten years, humans get a complete reset of their emotional a
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in a parallel/alternative universe, where people literally shed their skins every 7 years, and their lives at the same time. With these sheds they fall out of love, their desires and interests change, they become almost a person reborn but with the same memories. The first half of the book centres around a private investigator (who has an illness which means she sheds more often than most) who is hired to track down some stolen old skins kept by her previous lover Max, a famous film star. By ...more
Alex (Hey Little Thrifter)
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
After reading and loving 'The Beauty' and 'Peace, Pipe', I was thrilled to check out Aliya Whiteley's new novel 'The Loosening Skin'.

Told over multiple time periods covering the present, recent past and near future, we learn about a world where humans shed their skin every seven years. This shedding also means the end of any relationships, the skin itself holding onto the memory of love.

We follow Rose, former bodyguard and lover of the superstar Max Black. When Rose shed her skin during their
Patrick Stirling
I loved the idea - humans shed their entire skin (moult) every 7 years or so, and with the skin they also shed many emotional ties - eg to loved ones. Moreover, if you touch your own or someone else's shed skin, you feel an echo of their shed emotions. Thus there's an active black market in skins. Quite a world to build!
The protagonist has "Extreme Moult Syndrome" meaning that she sheds most of her emotional ties with her skin, and feels an intense urge to distance herself from her previous life
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it
A really interesting concept and beautiful style. The structure of the novella did not really work for me. The story jumps backwards and forwards in time without a lot of context and some of what happens in the earliest part of the book only acquires significance having read the whole thing. I found the main protagonist, Rose Allington, a little bit difficult to get a handle on, which is probably by design to some degree, but I just found her a bit opaque. Something happens midway through that g ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
People molt their skin and lose (?) the love they felt (which remains in the shedded skin). Interesting premise, but the book was a bit too vague, did not get me involved. I probably missed a lot of subtext.

Some snippets:

‘So you like my mysteries?’
‘Oh yeah,’ he says, smoothing my hair back from my face.
‘Then why are you trying to solve me?’

Imagine a world where love doesn’t live in the skin alone

New studies show that over seventy per cent of the UK’s population now take a daily supplement of S
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book has a very unique and clever idea at its core. The idea that this is a world where people shed their skin every 7 years and with it the love they feel for the people in their lives at that time. The world this creates is interesting and holds huge potential however, for me the story woven around this idea didn’t quite work. It felt a little formulaic in places (movie star and bodyguard) and in other areas it felt disjointed. The end of the book provides an acknowledgment from the autho ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Memory of Love

The story is set in an alternative universe where everything from technology to places are familiar to the reader. Info this world Aliya Whiteley has used to very good effect the detective genre for a well crafted story in two parts.

Part one famous actor Max hires his ex-bodyguard and lover Rose to find his previous shed skins that have been stolen. In part two Mik is trying to find someone for a dying friend. With the moulting of their skin so that person sheds the emotion Love,
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very unusual science fiction work that revolves around the concept of love, skin and friendship. In the story humans moult their skins and with this moult they change, yet the skins retain the remembrance of love. With the change, people move on into different types of lives, away from the previous love object, and it is the need to retain this love that people take pills. So the novel explores the transience of love and the need to retain it at a cost, which is the power of a giant pharmaceut ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
What if love is only skin deep? What if this skin comes off every seven years and you lose your love? Loose skin - lose love, difference of one "o". This story takes the seven-year itch to new realms and explores the idea love, friendship and sex. There are four distinct parts, 1 and 2 are narrated by one character, 3 and 4 by antother. Within these four parts there are quite a few instances of jumping back and forth in time. which slowly reveals the motivation of the chareacters' actions. I lik ...more
Vincent Hernot
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Very good idea, with clear social, moral and whatever symbolic implications.
The plot, as so often, takes over but that could have been ok if the writer had done more with her basic idea. It never feels as if she's really mining it for what it's potentially worth, or engage with the full blown implications of it: her world looks too much like ours, in many ways, and it's hard to imagine things wouldn't be much more different.
So the book disappoints, ultimately, not only because it doesn't live up
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book has been shortlisted for both the 2019 Campbell and Clarke book prizes for science fiction and fantasy. I consider these two prizes, both connected to university programs, to be the most “literary” of the many SF prizes..
Campbell Award

Arthur C. Clarke award

The main spectral element was the fact that humans in this novel moulted their complete skin every few years, causing personality changes and disconnections that mad
Rym Kechacha
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I could have spent longer in this world and with these characters, which I always think is perhaps the ultimate compliment someone can pay a book? As always with Whiteley's work, I find myself thinking about so many issues around the what-if at the centre of the story- her ideas stick to you and follow you around for a while, making sure that you really digest the world that her characters live in.
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