Everyone Has Something to Lose.
About a year and a half ago, I read the first book in Robin Wasserman’s “Skinned” trilogy of the same name, and it affected me in such a visceral way that by the fiftieth or so page, I was bawling like a baby. The story takes place several hundred years in the future, where artificial intelligence and technology reign supreme and humans have more or less destroyed 90% of the world (but you knew that was coming, surely). Cars drive themselves, money has vanished, replaced by the concept of “credit”, and all social interaction is based on the cloud-based “network”, “zones” (similar to social networking profiles today) and “ViMs” (video monitors). Lia Kahn is your standard popular teenager type – she’s a champion runner with a hot boyfriend and a rich, affluent family that adores her… sigh – that is, until the accident that kills her. Using state of the art technology, her mind is separated from her broken body and downloaded into an artificial, perfect robotic form called a mech. And after that, nothing is the same.
The second book, Crashed, begins more or less where the first book left off, though I can’t go into much detail without giving the whole plot away. What I can say, however, is that the emotion and action was greatly lacking in comparison to the first book. While Lia and her “friends” (if you can call them that) are technically not human, there was something extremely humane and vulnerable about their experiences that made it easy to empathize with their situations in Skinned. With ethical issues constantly being debated, it’s not all that far-fetched to imagine a future where human emotions, personalities, and identities are ascribed to man made creations, so I found that plot device to be familiar yet unique. In the first book the plot was constantly advancing, but for some reason in the second book, Wasserman’s writing switches to this silly, petty back-and-forth ego driven arguing between characters.
Seriously, I guesstimate that about 85% of the book is spent with Lia hating Jude, Jude hating Lia, Lia mistrusting Jude, and Jude mistrusting Lia, Lia mistrusting the government, Lia trading sarcastic insults with everyone, Lia doubting herself and mentally shifting alliances at the drop of a hat… I’d probably be going through the same schizophrenic cycle if I had to endure even half of what she does, but reading it is exasperating and not entertaining in the slightest. Maybe the author was going for anticipation and intrigue by keeping the “who to trust?” question dangling throughout the book, but it didn’t translate very well. Plus, Lia’s chronic lying struck me as unnecessary and as causing more trouble than it was worth. The first book had me sympathizing for Lia as she transformed from the selfish Barbie to a mature and humbled person… but in Crashed it was as if she was reverting to her same old ways again; disappointing to say the least.
In the end I’d give this book two and a half stars out of five: the conclusion left enough dangling to make me want to read the final book (which is called Wired and was released in September of this year), but I’m just not feeling nearly the same connection as I did the first time around.
Sydnee is a freshman at Wayne State University pursuing a degree in Journalism. Her hobbies include painting and taking long afternoon naps. She is obsessed with hunky heroes, explosions, melodrama, and magic—all things that make a frequent appearance in her stories. Her blog is http://syd-dreams.blogspot.com.