It’s strange how I come across books these days. You all know what a fan I am of Maureen Johnson (I may have mentioned her a time or two – or ten). Well, one of her friends, who happens to be an author, is Robin Wasserman. I found that out through Twitter and also seeing posts on sites like Tumblr and YouTube. So while browsing at my favorite used bookstore, I came across a book by Robin Wasserman and thought to myself, “I started following this person on Twitter. I should probably read some of her stuff.” The cover looked interesting, the premise a little strange. Everything that I like, right? So I bought it.
Skinned tells the story of Lia, a teenage girl growing up in the far future. I never did figure out how far, but with the technology they have, it’s pretty distant. Lia is in a car accident, something nearly unheard of in a time of automatic everything, and she nearly dies. I say “nearly” because her family chose to bring her back. In this future, there is a way that they can basically take the brain and download it into a computer. When Lia comes back, she is a machine. A robot, a cyborg, whatever you want to call it. Yet, she still has all the thoughts, feelings, emotions, and memories of her life. And because they have all these thoughts and memories in a computer, it means that she will literally never die. If something happens to her near indestructible new body, they will just build a new one.
This raises all kinds of problems, of course. For starters, there is a huge stigma against people like this. They are called “mech-heads” or “skinners,” and most people hate them. The religious call them an abomination. Other people just find them distasteful and call them freaks. Lia no longer fits in with her family, even though they were the ones who made the decision to do this to her, and one by one, her friends desert her. She eventually finds other “skinners” living on the fringe of society, and their leader, Jude. Jude and his followers agree that the skinners are not human – they are better than human, and the sooner Lia accepts who she is, the better off she will be.
I liked this story because of all the different dimensions it had. It really makes you think about what being “alive” really means. Lia has no heartbeat, doesn’t need to breathe, and doesn’t need sustenance. Most people might think that means that she isn’t a living being, yet she believes that she is. It’s very complex. It’s the meaning of life question turned on it’s head. The book was uncomfortable to read at times, but that was also what made it good.
This is also the first book in a series. I will most likely be looking for the next books soon.