Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever. When Leora’s father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life. But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.
I’m honestly pretty conflicted about this book. It’s an easy, fairly enjoyable read, I finished it pretty quickly and was curious to know what happened. However that’s probably about it for my positive feelings on it.
Starting with the concept of tattooing your life on your skin for everyone to see – intriguing and a little odd but sort of okay. Then we find out, right at the beginning, that these tattoos and your skin are turned into a skin for your family to keep and read after you die. Creeeeeeeeepy. I couldn’t really get past that, but managed to ignore it in favour of the mystery of what everyone is not telling Leora etc. Trouble is there’s a fair bit of world building at the start, then the whole something’s wrong not sure what and people are lying to her thing, then she slowly learns more but not enough. And then she learns everything people have kept from her and makes a (understandable) rash decision, then learns more and regrets it. Then it ends. What? It didn’t feel like a satisfying ending. It didn’t leave me wanting more even though there was so much almost unresolved. Also the fact that it’s a “fate of the world: revolution/ whatever rests on your shoulders” thing is bad enough but that is barely resolved, we get one fact as to why and nothing as to why that should matter. Leora is a decent main character, but her frustration bled through to me.
I actually had a sampler of this book and thought it was decently done but weird and creepy and I would probably not bother. When it turned up in my book box I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m glad I did in some ways as I learned a bit more about the world and the politics stuff and religious themes made it interesting and less creepy. But it just didn’t feel like a whole book. Maybe half of one. It’s the first in a set, but I don’t think it sits well enough on it’s own and I think the creepiness of the first few chapters (eeeeew people skin books) will put people off.
I wrote this review soon after I read it, as the book was coming out, and wanted to add that I am pleased that so many people do love this book – not only is Alice super lovely and friendly, but I do think if you can get over the creepy factor (unlike me!) then it’s probably easier to get into the story. I am still not sure if I will read the follow up. Probably, because I’m over the creepy a bit more now, and the politics and religious stuff was interesting.