Wired, Robin Wasserman (Simon Pulse, 2010) (a.k.a. Torn)

Grade: Γ — A good book within the genre, but is part of a series and requires an investment in reading that normally only appeals to fans of that genre. 

NOTE: This book is being re-released under the title Torn as of October 25th, 2011. Indeed the entire Skinned Trilogy is being re-released and renamed The Cold Awakening trilogy (with Skinned becoming Frozen, and Crashed becoming Shattered)[1]

In brief:

Wired (soon to be Torn) is the last installment of the Skinned (soon to be Cold Awakenings) Trilogy by Robin Wasserman, and serves as a solid conclusion to the saga of Lia Kahn.  As with the other volumes in this series, Wired did not shy away from hard scenes or uneasy topics.  It remained a good read throughout.  However, while I did enjoy this volume, and it does bring to a close all the varying threads of the series, it did not quite live up to its potential for me.  Even so, it is a good book and well worth the read if you enjoyed the other two volumes in the series.

Setting:

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

In Depth:

Wired picks up shortly after the conclusion of Crashed, carrying on the story where the last installment in the Trilogy left off.  Though it begins a bit strangely with Lia in the middle of a reality TV style show, the opening makes sense and shows Lia following up on decisions she made at the end of book two.  As the tale moves forward, the story picks up and the plot line quickly thickens.

I should note at this point that, unlike most trilogies, the Skinned (a.k.a. Cold Awakenings) series, is not a serial.  Each volume comes to a good conclusion on its own, giving the reader a sense of closure and some degree of satisfaction. What is more, each book can be picked up without reading the previous entries, though that does get harder the further into the series you get.  Having said that, I would argue that the first volume (Skinned/Frozen) is by far the best book in the series, and so I would begin there anyway.

Which brings me to the criticisms I have of this book.  While I truly did enjoy this book, I found that it didn’t quite live up to its potential.  Skinned / Frozen really was a brilliant examination of a changing sense of self and identity, combining both elements of teen angst (which everyone can relate to) and life in a post “singularity” future (which nobody can relate to… yet anyway).  Crashed / Shattered moved that story further forward, but in someways got a bit bogged down in the relationship triangle that served as the core of the last volume.  Even so, I had hopes that this volume would bring those story elements full circle within the thematic arc started in the first volume.  Thus, while Wired / Torn did pull the story arcs together nicely, it did not give me the same sense of symbolic and/or thematic closure that it could have.

In part, this was due to fact that I saw two of the three big plot twists of this book coming a mile a way.  I won’t provide a spoiler by saying what any of them were, but I will say that the first (upon which the whole plot of this book revolves) I saw as a possibility back in book one, and the final twist is so much part of the Cyberpunk genre that it is now verges on the brink of cliché.[2]  As for the remaining plot twist, while I did not see it coming, neither did I feel all that moved when it did occur. 

Indeed, I feel that part of my problem with this book is that while I did enjoy it (I know, what I’m saying makes it hard to believe that’s the case, but really… it’s worth the read), I felt that in some senses it dwelled too much on the relationship triangle at the center of the tale, and spent far too little time addressing the concepts of identity in a post-cyber world.  Since both the first book and the conclusion of this one suggests that is the real point of the book, it didn’t quite pull it off.  Indeed in some senses, the conclusion came across as an almost rushed afterthought despite the fact it was foreshadowed throughout this book. 

To that end, I suppose I would have liked to see less time spent on Lia’s various romantic/anti-romantic relationships, and more time spent on her relationships with Zo, her Father, Auden, call-me-Ben, Kiri and any number of other secondary characters.  Perhaps even better, would have been a deeper exploration of her relationship with technology and herself, since that is the central theme of the book.  Additionally, the change in narrative style in the last chapter does not quite address the changes that occurred in the plot.[3]

Armchair editing aside, I did like this book and felt it closed out the series nicely.  Would I recommend reading it?  Well, truth be told, I think I liked Skinned a.k.a. Frozen better as a stand alone than as a series, but if you read Crashed a.k.a. Shattered, then Wired a.k.a. Torn is a must read.  What is more, if you’re like me, once you read the first book in the series, you won’t be able to avoid reading the other two volumes, and despite my whining, I did like it and its conclusion.  I think I just would have liked to see even more…


[1] I have yet to find out why this series is being rebranded, but I am glad they are dumping the covers.  While the first one was fine, the two subsequent covers left me completely unimpressed. So much so, in fact, that I was going to have a nice little rant about them.  All of the covers are photographic in nature (something I don’t normally care for because it imprints appearances on the story), but while the first shows nothing more than an attractive young woman, the other two book covers (Crashed and Wired) show too much, and do it not very well.  Crashed shows the same (maybe?) woman accompanied by a similarly good looking young man (Jude?  Ryan? Not clear), both of which now have vague body paint, which I suppose represents the cyber-punk “Mech” body art the characters have adopted in the story.  Unfortunately, all it does is look like body paint designs put on good looking models.  Blah!  Wired goes one step further by adding another young man to the picture (Ryan?  Jude?), problem is… by this point in the story, Ryan is supposed to look like his old body: a tall, broad shouldered, good looking black man.  None of the models look like Ryan.  Double blech.  Oooh look, I managed a rant anyway… big surprise.

[2] It dos not come off cliché in this book, but neither is it really a big surprise when it happens.

[3] I really cannot go into this since it would ruin the whole series, but suffice it to say that since the whole series is told in a past-first person point-of-view, the subtle changes Wasserman attempts at the end of this volume didn’t quite work for me.  Mind you, I have no idea how else she could have done it, and it really was necessary, soooooo…. 

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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 Chronicle, Conspiracy, Cyberpunk, Identity, Near Future fic, Ripping Yarn, Romance, Science Fiction, Series, Trilogy, Uncategorized, YA and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wired, Robin Wasserman (Simon Pulse, 2010) (a.k.a. Torn)

  1. Kristen says:

    his name is RILEY NOT Ryan, if you can’t read better than that, then maybe you shouldn’t be criticizing the book

    • Thomas Evans says:

      Apologies. You are of course correct. I must have confused the name, which does sometimes occur when you read and review a book every week for a few years.

      I am surprised, however, that you think I criticized the book. I noted repeatedly in my critique that I liked it, and indeed gave it one of my highest ratings. I do feel that someone who does not like Science Fiction may not like this book, but as I said in the text, I did like it quite a bit.

      Oh I did hate the cover of this volume though. I’ll certainly stand by that. Riley did not look like that in this book.

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