Skinned, Robin Wasserman (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster/Brilliance Audio)

Cover of "Skinned (Skinned Trilogy)"

Cover of Skinned (Skinned Trilogy)

Grade: ΒReally good book within the genre, probably worth reading regardless of which genre’s you like, but may have a style of writing or setting that may not appeal to all readers. Alternatively, it may not have deep commentary or thought outside of the book itself.

 In brief:

Skinned is story of a wealthy teen girl who is downloaded into an android body.  It was a surprisingly excellent read (or listen… I did the audio thing on this one), pulling me along from chapter to chapter.  Though it is book one of a trilogy, it stands on its own.  Indeed, I didn’t know until long after finishing it that it was a part of a series. Don’t let the fact that it is a YA book about a teenaged girl put you off.  This book had a very good balance between teenaged angst and the general questioning of identity (what makes me myself?).  I highly recommend picking it up.

 Setting:

Mid-to-Near Future US with a developed Cyberpunk tech and stratified social status.

 In Depth:

I will fully admit that I did not think this book would appeal to me.  After all, I am pretty far from the young adult female market the publicity for this book seemed to be aimed at. Additionally, the basic premises are hardly new: teenage girl falls from clique/person downloaded into computer world.  I fully admit, however, I was totally wrong in my prediction. I truly enjoyed listening to this book and would highly recommend it to any reader (or listener). It is an excellent story that is well told and I fully intend to read the next in the series. 

In brief, the story follows Lia Kahn, the teenaged “survivor” of a horrible car accident whose mind is downloaded into fully anatomically correct android body. Whether or not you can say she really survived is a central theme of this book, for Lia’s body is definitely dead, and all that remains are the recorded memories being run by the AI CPU of the android body (and of course the backup copies kept in a safe secure location).  Told in the first person, one certainly sympathizes with the new Lia Kahn, but even she is uncertain if the person she is qualifies as being…. well herself.  As she faces those who knew her before, and meets other “Skinners” (others downloaded androiods like her), her doubts as to her identity only deepen.

It is a beautifully told story in which Wasserman catches the thoughts and feelings of an elite teenaged girl who has undergone tragedy. She managed to get Lia’s voice and attitudes just right, perfectly balancing a spoiled rich girl attitude with a sympathetic young woman whose had her life torn away from her.  Far more than “just a sci-fi story” or a “teenaged angst” tale, this book touches upon issues of social differentiation, bigotry, bullying and rather sophisticated concepts of identity (something I *can* actually speak with authority about). 

I will not give away the ending, but lets just say that it closes a perfect circle.  I was almost disappointed when I heard there was a sequel, but was so enthralled with the first volume that I look forward to picking it up.

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About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
This entry was posted in Cyberpunk, Near Future fic, Science Fiction, Series, Strong Characters, Thoughtful, YA and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Skinned, Robin Wasserman (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster/Brilliance Audio)

  1. Joachim Boaz says:

    What’s your favorite cyberpunk novel?

    Mine’s Stephenson’s “postcyberpunk” romp, The Diamond Age. Perhaps that doesn’t really count…

    • Thomas Evans says:

      I truly love Cyberpunnk, so that is a very hard question. Still, thinking about it, and depending on whether or not you include Phillip K. Dick in the genre, I would probably have to say the Neuromancer by William Gibson. It really opened the world of cyberpunk to me (and most everyone else), and so it will always have a soft spot in my heart.

      That (and “Do android Dream of Electric Sheep), however, is a bit like saying Lord of the Rings is my favourite fantasy novel, so other than the genre creating classics, I’d have to say
      Carlucci by Richard Paul Russo.

      Not only does it have an interesting world with strong characters, it also combines a gritty crime novel with sci-fi in a manner that is totally true to both genres.

      I’ll be reviewing it in a few weeks, actually.

  2. Joachim Boaz says:

    Hmm… I’ve not read any of Richard Paul Russo’s works…

  3. Joachim Boaz says:

    But yes, I love Neuromancer as well! Read it in once sitting.

  4. Thomas Evans says:

    Picture a bit of Phillip Marlow in Cyberpunk San Francisco and that’s the best of the Russo stuff. Carlucci is three novellettes put together, makes for a good read,

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