Skinned by Robin Wasserman

(Cover picture courtesy of Rebecca Onion.)

Lia khan 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 live on 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.

Skinned is an unusual YA novel that deals with loss, life, fanaticism and what it means to be human.  In my opinion, it is speculative fiction of the first rate.

Lia Khan was a selfish, vain and shallow character in the beginning, but as the novel progresses and she realizes what life on the outside is like, she changes.  There are still frequent flashes of the old Lia, but being a mech (what people like her are called) changes her quite a bit, especially since she is  unable to feel pain or die.  She tries hard to continue her old life, but eventually accepts that the mysterious mech named Jude is right: she is anything but human and needs to embrace her new self.

Robin Wasserman’s predictions about the future of society ring true.  As technology advances, more and more ethical questions will be raised about how and when to use it.  In a futuristic society, there will also be religious extremists that advocate against changing nature, thereby “playing God.”  But it is not only the religious extremists that hate (and fear) mechs; many of Lia’s former friends do not believe it is really Lia inside her new robotic body.

Skinned can be enjoyed on many different levels and it means something different to every reader, which is what makes this such a great novel for teenagers.

I give this book 4.5/5 stars.

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