Book Review: Skinned

Published By: Simon Pulse
Release Date: 2008
Buy it at Amazon
Source: Library
Format: Audiobook

Skinned is the love child of Frankenstein and modern technology. In Lia Kahn's world, everything is driven by computers, technology, and the need to be the best. Lia thrives in this world and is the queen bee of her school, family, and sports team. However, one afternoon will change her existence forever. A fatal car accident leaves Lia's human body near death and her parents make the difficult decision to have her transferred to a mechanical body. Scientists have perfected the art of downloading the brain's memories and loading them into the mechanical shell. The result is a machine that acts and thinks like the deceased, but is not truly a human.

I love how Robin Wasserman explores so many issues within this book. One theme that really rose to the surface for me was the relationship between the religious people and the non-religious people. This is an issue that is so prevalent in our world today. People are constantly arguing back and forth about religion and its place in society. The discussion between the Faither leader, Lia's father, and Lia is one that I found to be particularly interesting. The Faither tells Lia that his religious group sees her only as a machine - nothing more. To this group, she has no soul and therefore isn't truly Lia. In this context, the soul is what makes someone human. However, I found myself wondering where I fell on this issue. Even though Lia is not her human self anymore does that mean she is not something valuable? She does retain all the memories and experiences of the human Lia, after all. 

I also loved the issue of old ways vs. new ways. This is something else that speaks to the modern world. There are so many people who want to hold onto the old ways of living while others are constantly seeking that next technology fix. Ipads, cell phones, and computers seem to dictate many lives these days. I am not arguing that technology is bad, but do we sometimes lose sight of the balance that keeps us level when we constantly choose the new over the old? However, I also found it somewhat ironic that Lia is truly the new and advanced in her world and even though her society values technology above most other things, she is shunned for not being the old Lia. I love this double standard that comes to light as a result.

I am typically not a huge fan of science fiction or dystopian novels. There have been a few that have held my attention, but I wasn't super excited about this book when I began it. I admit that I only read it after so many friends had sung its praises. I would highly recommend this book for those who aren't typically science fiction readers. However, I will caution readers that there are several instances with graphic language. This would not be a read that I would suggest for younger teen readers. I also saw several reviews comparing this book to the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. I have only read the first book in that series, but I honestly never made that comparison in my reading of Skinned. I think both authors approached their material in a way that made the stories feel different for me.

Finally, the audio quality on this one would receive 3.5 birdies. The narrator's voice was annoying to me at first, but as the book progressed I began to hear her as Leah. I didn't like that it wasn't super clear when the chapter changes were happening. This book has section titles, but not chapter numbers. The narrator read those titles, but didn't differentiate between the normal speaking voice so it often took me a few minutes to realize that I was moving into a new section of the book. Overall, it was a decent audiobook, but not one of the best I have heard.

One Last Gripe: I was really frustrated by Auden's situation at the end of the book. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil anything.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I really enjoyed all the symbolism. I have no idea whether Robin Wasserman intended for readers to think about the issues I landed on, but I found them intriguing. This book made me think which is always a plus.

First Sentence: Lia Kahn is dead.

Favorite Character: Auden

Least Favorite Character: Zoie

Lia Kahn was perfect: rich, beautiful, popular -- until the accident that nearly killed her. Now she has been downloaded into a new body that only looks human. Lia will never feel pain again, she will never age, and she can't ever truly die. But she is also rejected by her friends, betrayed by her boyfriend, and alienated from her old life.

Forced to the fringes of society, Lia joins others like her. But they are looked at as freaks. They are hated...and feared. They are everything but human, and according to most people, this is the ultimate crime -- for which they must pay the ultimate price.


  1. Great review. I really liked this book and thought it gave me a lot to think about -- including the issues you wrote about. Good stuff.


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