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Book Review: Crashed by Robin Wasserman

CrashedTitle: Crashed

Author: Robin Wasserman

Series: Cold Awakening #2

Genre: Teen Fantasy

Rating: 3/5 stars

The Overview: Before the accident, Lia Kahn was happy.Before the accident, Lia Kahn was loved. Before, Lia was a lot of things: Normal. Alive.

Human.

Lia no longer believes in before. Six months after the crash that killed her, six months after being reborn, Lia has finally accepted her new reality. She is a machine, a mech, and she belongs with her own kind. It’s a wild, carefree life, without rules and without fear. Because there’s nothing to fear when you have nothing left to lose. But when a voice from her past cries out for revenge, everything changes. Lia is forced to choose between her old life and her new one. Between humans and mechs. Between sacrificing the girl she used to be and saving the boy she used to love. Even if it means he’ll hate her forever.

Crashed 2

The Review:

Because I’ve owned the beautiful little hardcovers of this series for several years now, I decided it was finally time to read them. Well, I guess you can say it was finally time to read them again, as this was my second time through the first novel, Skinned. While I enjoyed Skinned immensely more this time around, it still left me feeling depressed. I decided that if I was going to tackle the series again, Crashed better offer some sort of silver lining, or else I may never make it to the third and final book. You see, awful heart-wrenching things happen to Lia in the first book (some of which she brought on herself), and there really weren’t any positives to the story. Don’t get me wrong, it was written beautifully and parts of it were absolutely genius. Even so, I was still left without that tiny ray of hope and feared the negative aspects were going to be the only aspects of the series. While Crashed was equally evoking, it managed to give me what Skinned had not: balance.

Now that Lia has finally come to terms with her situation (well… mostly), it allowed the focus to shift to the broader conflicts of the story. It also provided an opportunity to get to know the secondary characters a bit more, and they were AWESOME. If I’m honest, I’m probably more excited to see where their decisions take them moving forward than the main character herself. That’s not to say the protagonist is a weak character, I just found others more relatable.

It’s one thing to have written great characters, but Wasserman really knew how to use them. Personalities clash, epiphanies take place, true motives are revealed, and all of it was evident through the brilliant dialogue. Thought-provoking, drawn-out arguments took place between the characters and they were always so engaging that I found myself riled enough to want to join in. Even if the rest of the book was total crap (it wasn’t), the dialogue alone would have been enough to keep me reading on – it was superb!

There are so many strengths to this series that I wish I could recommend it to everyone. The trouble is, the plot is downright depressing – focusing on all of the dregs life has to offer – that I just can’t justify putting it up for recommendation. If you decide to try it anyway, be warned that Wasserman will rip your heart out, but she’ll do it in the most beautiful, profound way possible. If you need me, I’ll be over here steeling myself for the final novel.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Skinned by Robin Wasserman

SkinnedTitle: Skinned

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.

Skinned

The Review:

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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by Niki Hawkes