Friday, May 18, 2012

Skinned review

Skinned
by Robin Wasserman
Simon Pulse
September 2008

First line: "Lia Kahn is dead. I am Lia Kahn."

Teenaged Lia Kahn leads a charmed life until a car accident that robs her of nearly everything, including her body. Her wealthy and pushy father has her memories downloaded into an android body. Lia's horrified that she's been turned into what's nicknamed a "skinner" but knows that she has to try and adjust. Wasserman mines a lot of ethics questions here including what makes us really human, our bodies or our memories? While Lia is coping with her own overwhelming feelings over the accident, and adjusting to her new body, there are also a lot of sibling rivalry issues. Her younger sister Zoie, who should have been in the car that day, has spent her whole life being overshadowed by Lia, who has always been daddy's favorite and a bit of a Queen Bee. It's finally Zoie's turn to shine at school as Lia is shunned as freak, and Zo even goes so far as to steal Lia's old boyfriend. Talk about a shocking betrayal!

Having her life turned upside-down in this way really changes Lia - and makes her parents wonder if she really is their daughter anymore, or just a close simulacrum of her. Her brusque and demanding father practically admits that he regrets pushing for the procedure. He thought he was saving his daughter, not dooming himself to having to live with a robot who reminds him of what he lost. Ouch!

In the meantime, Lia meets a group of underground skinners who are campaigning for mechs' rights. They seem a desperate and sad group, taking wild risks just to prove that they can, cutting themselves, and are angry that doctors won't "upgrade" them with vision or hearing that outperforms human standards. There's just a hint of a love triangle. When things don't work out with Lia's odious ex-boyfriend Walker, she finds new friends: nerdy technology-loving human Auden and intense skinner Jude. I was shocked, shocked, shocked by the ending of the book. Lia is just starting to pull herself together: she may not be the old Lia Kahn, but she's still a sentient being with hopes and dreams for the future. She challenges Auden to some feats of athletic skill, and either not realizing her own strength, or Auden's human fragility, Auden is seriously injured. Will he recover, will he die? Or will he become a skinner like Lia? Skinned is the first book in the Cold Awakening trilogy.

Compare to:

The Adoration of Jenna Fox - Mary E. Pearson
Feed - M.T. Anderson

Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
Being Nikki - Meg Cabot


I borrowed this book from the library.

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