The story begins when Lia Kahn, the main character, 'wakes up' in a hospital. She can't move, she can't talk... she can't even open her eyes. But she can hear the murmur of nurses and doctors as she ebbs in and out of consciousness for weeks. Finally, she sees and slowly regains her ability to talk. The voice she hears, however, is foreign. The doctor holds up a mirror... and a robotic woman's voice shrieks as Lia Kahn realizes she isn't really Lia Kahn anymore.
In a world several decades ahead of ours, where the cars actually can drive themselves, Lia Kahn has gotten into a fatal collision on the road. Although death would've been certain, her parents decide to utilize a technology that can make their oldest daughter live anew: they download her memories and personality into a perfect artificial body, called a "mech". Once popular and adored at her high school, now Lia Kahn can no longer breathe, eat, or die. And everyone fears and loathes her for it.
To be perfectly honest, this book was hard for me to get down at first. Although the setting is at least fifty years in the future with technology far beyond ours, the theme hit a little too close to home. Not to be a downer, but almost 17,000 car crashes are reported in the U.S. every day, with many of them being fatal. The ethics behind "pulling the plug" or allowing someone to remain on life support, along with what, exactly, constitutes 'life' is constantly debated.With all this in mind, I bawled like a baby within the first few pages and I wasn't too sure I would even be able to get through the whole novel. But, I pulled on my big girl panties and continued... and I loved it.
Before the story begins, Lia is your standard, stuck-up rich girl who excels at everything and has a bunch of nosy, gossiping friends. Yawn. However, she's forced to forsake her previous superficiality and grow up in a very short time, which struck me as realistic and tragic. Extremist religious groups even protest outside her house with vicious signs ("God made man. Who made YOU?"). Although there's quite a bit of tragedy and angst in this adventure, Lia narrates with sharp wit that balances it nicely, and the rising action had my pulse pounding up to the very last page.
So in conclusion, if you're especially sensitive or squeamish I would read with caution, but I do recommend you read it. It's smart, witty, stomach dropping suspense with an philosophical message... what could be better than that?
Find out more about Lia Kahn, the Skinned trilogy, and Robin Wasserman at www.robinwasserman.com.
In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer purchased this book. The opinions expressed are hers alone and no monetary compensation was offered to her by the author or publisher. Cover art is copyright of Simon Pulse and is used solely as an aide to the review.