Skinned by Robin Wasserman

Posted February 10, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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Skinned

Skinned

by Robin Wasserman

Series: Cold Awakening #1
Publisher: Simon Pulse on September 9, 2008
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction
Target Age Group: New Adult, Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

The Download was supposed to change the world. It was supposed to mean the end of aging, the end of death, the birth of a new humanity. But it wasn't supposed to happen to someone like Lia Kahn.

And it wasn't supposed to ruin her life.

Lia knows she should be grateful she didn't die in the accident. The Download saved her--but it also changed her, forever. She can deal with being a freak. She can deal with the fear in her parents' eyes and the way her boyfriend flinches at her touch. But she can't deal with what she knows, deep down, every time she forces herself to look in the mirror: She's not the same person she used to be.

Maybe she's not even a person at all.

 

Skinned was one of the first reviews I posted on my blog, back in early, early days (this review is from 2012).  I remember being impressed by the philosophical conversation behind this book, and while I do try not to duplicate reviews, I still think this books interesting and relevant, even eight years after my initial reading.

So Skinned tells the story of Lia Khan.  Lia is dead.  Lia is alive.  That’s the paradox makes up conflict in this book as Lia learns to navigate the world in her postmortem existence.  This isn’t much of a spoiler, since this is the premise of the book itself, but in the first pages of Skinned, Lia dies.  The beginning of the book is about Lia booting on – her brain has been sliced and micro-scanned and approved for transplant into a machine to preserve her after death.  As a minor, Lia has no say in the process and since her death was unexpected, she doesn’t get a custom model – she is uploaded into a base model that barely resembles her.

That’s the premise of Skinned.  Lia’s own reactions and those of the people around her are what follow.  Is she a miracle or abomination?  Can she pick up her life where she left it?  She faces what it is like to have a human mind and emotions but not be organic.  And are her memories true, or are they computer programming? … There’s a lot to unpack here and I find it absolutely fascinating and wholeheartedly recommend it.  Dystopias come in many shapes and sizes, but a lot of them are about government upheaval.  I find dystopian futures that discuss philosophical concepts so interesting.  What does it mean to be alive?  Where is the moral line of creating life?

The characters themselves are okay.  Because I’ve read the whole trilogy before, I know they get better, but in this first book Lia, Zo, Jude, and Austen are all a bit flat.  Jude and Austen, two different ends of the spectrum, serve to push Lia and grow her character… and Lia is flat because she is discovering herself and unwinding the threads between who she was and who she is.  And Zoie, who comes off as a minor character, just begins to develop in the last pages of Skinned.  My memory is that Zo is a character to watch, so I’m looking forward to rediscovering her.  For most of the book, it is difficult to relate to anyone, so if the the plot and world don’t interest you, the characters could be a deal breaker.  That said, I promise they get better.

My investment in Skinned is very much related to the story it’s telling and the world it’s in.  Technological advancement interests me… and isn’t this concept fascinating?  The idea that our brains could be scanned and the elements that make us tick uploaded into a computer?  So I’ll be continuing the series, and if you enjoy dystopias, I really recommend this one.  It’s a unique story and yes, it starts small… but it will grow.

As a note, this series has been rebranded and I have the original books.  The rebranded title for Skinned in the Cold Awakenings trilogy is Frozen.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★★
Characters: ★★★
Writing: ★★★★
Pacing: ★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★

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Skinned will stay on my shelf

This book is a reread for me, and it’s a story I’ve remembered despite the length of time between my reads, and based on those two elements alone, this is a book I want to hold on to.  Additionally, since the series has been rebranded, if I did get rid of this book and regret it, it would be difficult to get these editions again.  And I really like the art on this trilogy, particularly the progression of the art from one book to the next.  There’s a story told in the progression of the characters featured on the covers and how they are presented, and I always found that interesting.  Some covers are arbitrary, but I love ones (like these) that are meaningful and have a  greatest purpose than just enticing visual buyers to purchase the book.

But generally speaking, I’m keeping this book because I enjoy it.

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Would you want your personality and memories to be preserved after you die?  It’s something that I think about at times, and a philosophical question I have not yet decided.  But I’m interested in your thoughts – let me know in the comments if you’d want your essence preserved in its entirety!

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