Author: Robin Wasserman
Series: Cold Awakening #1
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Overview: 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.
This is another book that I’ve read before, but it was so many years ago that the second and third books in the trilogy hadn’t even come out yet. I’ve mentioned recently that I don’t often reread books but sometimes it can’t be helped when I want to continue on but there are too many things I’ve forgotten about the first book’s (it really irritates me when that happens – I guess I need to stop reading them before they’re all released #booknerdproblems101). Anyway, because I was on a major dystopian kick this year and kept noticing them sitting pretty in hardcover on my shelves, I decided it was time to give them another go.
This reread was kind of an odd decision because I only mildly enjoyed Skinned the first time around. Here’s the thing, this book is definitely not an “upper” by any stretch of the word, and I found it a difficult read because of the subject matter. There were a lot of elements that were raw, gritty and downright heart-wrenching, and I don’t think my innocent eighteen-year-old self was quite equipped to handle it at the time. This time around, however, I found it completely engrossing. Wasserman used strong imagery and sensations to really make me feel what Lia was going through. It was superb – I truly felt like I was getting dragged through the mud with the character. I have also learned a lot about writing since then, and can now appreciate it for the beautiful piece of work that it is.
Lia, while not relatable in any way, was totally fascinating and I think that’s why I liked reading about her. It amazed me how much I could be angry on her behalf even though a lot of her conflicts involved her reaping what she had sewn. There was just so many negative things thrown her way… her pain sort of jumped off the page and made me believe that, despite her flaws, she didn’t deserve all she got.
The book also had a lot of great futuristic world building. It was a somewhat cheeky nod to the parts of our society headed down dangerous paths (sort of like the overweight people lounging around the spaceship in the movie WALL-E). I liked that it wasn’t totally unfeasible. In Lia’s world it was clear that not all people led these extravagant lifestyles, just the privileged (which left a lot of room for Wasserman to make it outrageous). It wasn’t preachy by any means, but thought-provoking.
Despite all of the positives, Skinned was still a depressing read. I plan to continue on in the series this time, but there’d better be some sort of silver lining somewhere in the second book or a might have to throw in the towel on the account of too much emotional turmoil.
Recommended Reading: I personally read to escape reality, not to be dragged through the dregs of it, so this one was a stretch for me. Because of that, I would be wary recommending this to other readers even though it had elements that were truly special. This is a book for readers who don’t mind sifting through the grit for some beautiful writing.
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