Cover Image: Skin

Skin

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Member Reviews

Facing a much more deadly virus than we do at the moment, in 'Skin' all people have to live in total isolation from each other, because human skin has become the host of the contagion. This is the story of Angela and her family - each living isolated in a separate room of the house, only allowed to go outside in complete protective gear, and even then only to fetch the new food delivery from the tent attached to their front door. They only communicate with and see each other via computer, mostly to meet for virtual family meals. The children developed strange routines of their own, almost becoming strangers to Angela.

When Angela joins a neighborhood watch, she is allowed to leave her house and roam the streets for a couple hours each fortnight, having to report all unusual occurrences. When one day she spots a human without a protective suit, she decides to keep this observation to herself and investigate further. How comes this boy hasn't fallen ill or died yet? Is he immune to the virus?

From here on, the story - and Angelas life - slowly spirals out of control. Angelas daughter secretly followed her outside, her son turns into some sort of cyber terrorist, first harrassing his sister, then exposing secret information of his father's work, which also is very different from what Angela expected him to do. And Angela herself changes as well, questioning the on-going quarantine.

This is a very different kind of family story, but still showing familiar signs, like the rebellious kids and the motherly worries of Angela whose priority to protect her family is slowly overturned in the face of events.

Though the story was told from Angela's POV, the writing had a detached feeling to it, even in her most emotional moments. Surprisingly, I appreciated that quality very much, as it prevented the story from becoming too melodramatic and perfectly fitted the sterile isolation the protagonists were forced to live in. While Angela made some questionable decisions, they were still comprehensible considering the extreme situation she lived in. This was an unexpectedly fascinating and surprising read.
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I always enjoy an end of the world narrative and this one was no exception. It wasn't quite as good as The Road, or similar novels, but still thrilling, realistic, and well-realised.
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I loved this take on the dystopian genre. The setting and the detail were great and I liked the chapters that went back into the past of when the crisis all started when their children were a lot younger and the tough decisions they had to make along the way. I was pretty disappointed in the ending though and how abrupt it was. It seemed very rushed but I would definitely read a sequel to find out what actually happened. It was an enjoyable read!
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Unfortunately, something went wrong in the download process for this one, and I didn't realise until after the archive date. Thank you for the opportunity, though!
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In a sea of dystopian literature lately, this one stands out as being unique. The idea that humans cannot touch each other makes for an exciting unparalleled read. Communicating via technology, the human race is in great danger from a virus that spreads rapidly. Good read!
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Loved this read, a really fresh take on a genre done Many times and a great social commentary - I felt invested in the main character and loved the fact that she wasn't a twenty-something woman! I felt the story ended a little abruptly - but I think that was because I wanted to find out what happened next! Crossing fingers for a sequel because I feel there was so much more to be explored!
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This one was ok. I think the writing style didn't quite gel with me. The author uses lots of short, staccato kinds of sentences, which works fine for me sometimes but for some reason it was distracting here. I also felt like maybe the people gave up too easily and just adapted to the way of life the virus imposed upon them. I can't imagine something that would make me just be resigned to not touching or interacting with or even looking at my child without a big damn fight.
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A deadly virus, spread through human contact, has forced the remaining wealthy few into isolated, decontaminated chambers; phones and computers their only means of communication with others, even their children and partners. Going outside is forbidden without prior authorisation and requires the wearing of a protective suit and mask.

This is the world of Skin, a novel narrated by mother-of-two, marketing executive, Carol. She tells her story in two threads: one which covers the outbreak and survival of the virus; and one in which she examines life in the new isolated world where she can no longer hug her children or feel the sun on her face. A chance sighting of a figure without a protective suit, spotted one day on her neighbourhood watch route, forces Carol to reevaluate the realities of the post-virus world. Skin is a great fun read for the sci-fi enthusiast as you get this double narrative arc of initial survival and then conspiracy.

I enjoyed reading Skin in much the same way that I enjoyed reading Liam Brown’s previous novel, Broadcast. It is fast paced and brimming with ideas. I don’t always feel the ideas are pushed as far as they could be, but the characterisation feels real and Brown has a knack for extrapolating forwards from our current world. Can we really be human when all our interactions are mediated through computers?

This isn’t new territory as such. Reading Skin reminded me a little of The Possibility of An Island by Michel Houellebecq, but Liam Brown is less bigoted and a little more optimistic about human nature. Is real touch any different to digitally simulated touch? What does the future hold for us as the reality of our changing world forces us to rethink the way we live now? Brown is good at putting some of these questions into stories we can place ourselves within and you’ll know if this kind of story appeals to you.
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I used to be the weird kid that wanted to be stranded on an island with maybe one or two people. I adored and consistently reread The Island of the Blue Dolphins as a kid because the idea was so enticing to me. Then I discovered the zombie apocalypse. I was hooked immediately. I grew up poor so the idea of being able to just take food and necessities and okay, occasional luxuries with no repercussions was a tempting one.  I’ve since broadened my horizons to a love of all apocalypses, but I still have a soft spot for zombies.

Skin doesn’t have zombies, but it was an apocalypse in a more horrifying way. Solitary confinement for years. Even the ones you love the most are kept at such a distance that you can’t help but grow apart.

The characters are discussed later in “The Good” section in a different light, but here let’s talk about how Angela is a terrible mother and wife. She doesn’t really seem to care about anyone in her family. She has nothing but disdain for her husband. She fears her son and ignores her daughter. When issues come up she promptly ignores them for anything else, even staring at a wall.

The Bad

It kind of read like an unhappy/unfulfilled housewife who happens to be living during apocalyptic times. Angela stays at home, has disdain for her husband, barely knows her children, and feels the pointlessness of her job and her life. To escape this feeling she goes exploring outside her comfort zone and goes looking for adventure outside the home. Throw in an apocalypse and things are a bit more interesting, but the basic narrative is still unfulfilled housewife.

**Spoiler**

I also hated that when Angela thinks she sees another woman with Jason she assumes he’s sleeping around rather than paying any attention to the fact that the person also isn’t wearing a hazmat suit. You would think that would be important news. Then it takes her forever to connect the dots about who that “woman” is and when she does she doesn’t seem to care that much.

**end of spoiler**

The lack of ending. I read a ton of YA and dystopias are especially prevalent at the moment. Due to this I expect more climactic endings. Adult books tend to flatline the ending or give a small surprise rather than an intense rebellion with rules and governments overthrown. I understand this, but it still comes as a surprise when, in a dystopian world, the main character simply shrugs off all they’ve learned and continues on unhappily. I also have very little patience for people who complain about their lives, have a chance to change it and then choose not to. That was Angela. “Here is a new life handed to you on a platter. Hmm no thanks I think I’ll just go home and cry about things instead.” Ooookay.

Also, I want to know what happened with Amber. She was more interesting than the mom in a lot of ways. I want to know who Jamal is and if Amber snuck out to see him. If there is a sequel I want it to be about Amber.

The twist. The fact that there was a twist was good, but how easy it was to see it coming was not. I think I was about halfway through when I knew what was going to happen in the next half of the book.

The Good

Apocalypse!!! If you like apocalypse books you’ll like this one at least a little bit. The way the apocalypse is set in motion is new. We are allergic to each other. The people you love will kill you just by being near.

The world-building/world-destroying was done with good descriptions and the emotions from Angela added depth.

This book is not a run of the mill apocalypse rather it is a critique on 21st century family life. The family is disconnected even though they have so many ways to connect. They only care about themselves or when they do care about each other it is still for entirely selfish reasons. If I had known the authors other works I might have expected this, but this was my first Liam Brown book and I expected a straightforward apocalypse but instead I got a bit more.

Overall I enjoyed the book and think it is worthwhile to recommend to others who enjoy apocalypse books.
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The author grabs the reader by the throat in the first chapter of this apocalyptic novel. This is one of those fairly rare books where I got totally absorbed and binge-read until the unexpected and fairly odd conclusion. 

The characters are complex and well portrayed. All are weirdly likeable but unlikeable at the same time. I can relate exactly to the problems of rearing hormonal teenagers.

Liam Brown is an accomplished author and is unafraid to write about dysfunctional families and the gamut of emotions that can be created by existing in a dystopian United Kingdom. The society she creates in her book is pretty wretched, yet still manages to function in a fairly ordered manner. 

I would be very surprised if a sequel to the novel is not published in the near future. If so, I would definitely be first in the queue to read it!
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Brown’s imagined world where humans have become toxic to each other is a very dark and foreboding place. Through flashbacks we get to find out how such a place has come to exist and how as a family Angela, Colin and their two children, Amber and Charlie have changed over the duration from the past into the present paranoid, government oppressed, state controlled world.

There are some interesting dynamics at play from within the family environment where each household member lives in imposed solitary confinement.  Totally isolated from the rest of humanity they can never be with each other without the protection of their protective suits for fear of contamination. To create some semblance of normalcy however, Angela insists on eating ‘together’ at mealtimes over a live feed to their individual tv monitors. During one such gathering there is the normal sibling rivalry, bickering and teasing, and a sulky teenage blowout where instead of storming off to their room the kids simply switch off their tv connection.

As a family in such circumstances they drift apart from each other and withdraw into their own private environment, adapting sometimes rather selfishly in order to cope or make sense of a world in which they now find themselves. 

Amber and Charlie seem to have managed this process without any obvious difficulties. They’ve remained in their rooms with their x-box, internet computer games, or communicating with the outside world online. Seemingly less affected by the isolation and lack of physical contact or companionship than their parents.

Brown writes with perceptive insight about his female characters and I believed in the personality and behaviour of them.  I was drawn emotionally to Angela, a mother like myself, I felt her anguish at not being able to instinctively reach out to console and comfort those she loved nor to ever be able to physically demonstrate her love for her husband again. I felt her despair in her impossible search to fill the gaping void in her life.

Angela then discovers a young man without any protective clothing while out exploring on her official patrol duties.  Although she should report him to the authorities she keeps his sighting a secret and over the following weeks Angela transitions from a trusting compliant, law abiding citizen to a questioning and suspicious individual challenging what she has been told about the virus.

Brown shows us what it could be like in this plausibly imagined dystopian tale.
Its a world where human contact is forbidden as well as highly dangerous, deadly even. Where skin to skin touch and stimulation from the smells of the environment around us is denied.  Where intense desires to be loved and touched is an all pervasive desire.  He paints an all too vivid picture of just what the future could be like with such deprivation. It’s a bleak place to be.

For me ‘Skin’ had more of a YA feel to it rather than the adult audience targeted and believe it would be enjoyed by both. Skin was an enjoyable entertaining read and with an ending I didn’t see coming would love to read a sequel...I would like to hear more about ‘the egg’ to which the narrator shares her feelings throughout.
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I received an ARC of this book thanks to Net Galley and publisher Legend Press in exchange for an honest review.

 Oh boy, if all sci-fi had as well-developed characters as this one, I would read a whole lot more of it. Skin initially caught my eye because of the striking cover and I thought the general premise sounding interesting enough. It is set in the near-future where a disease has broken out among humanity which makes them allergic to each other. The result of this is that people have to live in isolation, communicating with others only through screens and essentially never venturing outside (certainly never without a hazmat suit). The focus is on a single family and our main character is Angela, the mother of the household.

 If you couldn't tell from my intro, my favourite thing by far about this book was the characters. Angela was a fantastic portrayal of a modern jaded woman-someone who doesn't have high expectations but gets on with things. She read so true to me and it added a lot of strength to the story. Her kids felt like people who had grown up in this world and they managed to be compelling characters without distracting from the plot. Her husband was maybe the weakest but even then, you got the impression of hidden depth that the story just wasn't exploring. Brown can definitely write three dimensional people.

 The plot itself was fairly strong and it certainly lives up to the premise promised. It's more of a world-building based plot than anything else so be aware of that going in. My main issue was the ending of the book which (no spoilers) was very abrupt and didn't quite feel complete and satisfactory. This could have easily been a 4 star read had the ending had a little more meat to it.

 Overall, this is a solid sci-fi book and definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of the genre. It uses the concept to explore humanity and people's behaviour which, in my opinion, is the best kind of sci-fi book. It could have maybe done with a little more of a story in the second half but it does decently enough and I'm very happy I decided to read it.

 Overall Rating: 3.5/5
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I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  
Thanks NetGalley!

Another interesting storyline.     Humans have become allergic to one another.   Standing nex tto someone could kill you.    Angela has her family.. a husband and kids... they live seperate lives... staying in their own rooms.. communicating via technology.. kind of like a lot of us do now right?

But then she suddenly sees a man walking around with no facemask...immune to the new disease.     

check it out!
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Interesting premise...not your typical dystopian story. For some reason, this fell flat for me. I couldn’t like or care about any of the characters. The ending felt rushed and incomplete...perhaps in the hopes of making it a series?
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Really enjoyed it could really picture everything that was going on and understand where most characters are coming from was gripped though a bit dissapointed at the end
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4.5 Stars

Here we have a dystopian post-apocalyptic story set in England which manages to stand out from the crowd despite the over saturated market at the moment for these books. 

The human race has been decimated by a deadly virus causing people to be deathly allergic to each other. For such a social species, this is less than ideal! The virus quickly wipes out the majority of the population but the story has a central focus of a single family and it written from the mother's point of view. The book features a dual timeline. One following the family during the outbreak and immediate aftermath of the virus, and the other 5 years later. This style of writing really works well here as I found both timelines equally interesting and gives us a background to what has happened in the world. Though, any peril that happens during the past loses some of it's edge as we know the outcome by reading about the same people in the future! 

Since the virus, everyone is living in separate rooms of houses only interacting via computers. This is an all too possible future for the human race even without a virus. I think this is one of the things that makes this book all the more terrifying. 

The characters were well developed and they were flawed. I absolutely love a flawed character - it makes it all so much more realistic. The pacing was excellent and I couldn't put the book down. 

The ending is bittersweet and slightly unexpected which is fabulous.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will be reading more from this author!

Thank you very much to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review
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Humans have become allergic to each other in this dystopian world. Families must live in isolation from one another, and Angela's family is no exception. Her husband Colin, daughter Amber and son Charlie mean everything to her, but does she really know them?

After becoming a member of the Neighbourhood Watch, Angela is able to go outside for the first time in years (donned in full hazmat suit, of course). This should be another regular aspect of her life, like eating energy bars and taking vitamins, but when she spots a mysterious man in the street, minus a face mask, her life changes forever.

Liam Brown has skilfully created a world that is nightmare inducing, as it will hit close to most people's hearts. Most of us have people we love dearly, and the thought of not being able to have contact with those people is genuinely scary and makes you think. There's always a risk with a genre as extensive as dystopia that a book will be filled with generic themes, but this is not the case with this one. There are a number of original ideas packed within it, making it an exciting reading experience.

The writing is to the point, which perfectly matches the mania of the story. The speech is snappy and dislocated, highlighting the isolation and inability to behave as a normal family. The ending was fantastic, and completely tied the whole story together; even though there were some unanswered questions, I felt satisfied.

One thing I did want more of was Angela talking to the unfertilised egg she has donated for the purpose of research. I thought the idea was particularly clever, but half way through it seemed as though Brown forgot to continue including it, picking it back up again later. However, this is a minor issue that does not detract from the story in general.

I would thoroughly recommend this book, as it is definitely one of the better pieces of dystopian fiction I have read in a while. I'm looking forward to reading more from the author in future, especially if this standard of writing is the rule, not the exception.
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This book was well written and thought provoking. I engaged with the central character and cared about her journey. In fact, I was very surprised to see the author was male, he wrote so well from a woman's point of view. In places it was really insightful and made succinct comments on society and how we live. 

I felt the characters of the husband and father had gaps in them... I wasn't sure how or why they became bad. 

I wanted more at the end! I was really intrigued to find out what happens next.

I would read more from this author and would love a sequel!
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I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Skin is the story of a Angela, a wife and mother, trying to get used to her new reality after a global outbreak or a virus that makes you allergic to other people. Angela lives in an apartment with her family, but they are completely sealed off from one another and life is lived mostly online. The story jumps between the present and flashbacks to the beginning of the outbreak. 

I thought the story had a lot of potential but there just wasn't quite enough for me. I wanted more detail about the outbreak, the virus was left too vague for my liking. I really enjoyed the flashbacks of the early days, and felt that the tension was relayed really well, but all of the momentum created in the first half fell flat for me in the second. There were aspects that I really enjoyed, and it was an entertaining read, but I was disappointed at the end, it felt unfinished. I would say that the book deserves a sequel, and if one was released I would probably give it a shot. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Legend Press for the book!
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The most accurate way to describe Skin is a dystopian nightmare that is a dream to read. Once again Brown has produced an interesting, poignant and timely story with an all too real scenario and a questioning of those with all the power e.g. the government. Here, people must live isolated, compartmentalised lives with the only connections allowed to be made being via technology. Given that face-to-face human contact has dropped significantly in recent years it's not difficult to see this as a plausible reality with a bit of manipulation from the government and associated parties. In fact, it's rather disturbing to establish that this could really happen. This is such an impressive and detailed post-apocalyptic world.

Brown has crafted an intelligent novel that depicts the drawbacks and complexities of never having human contact and most of what is experienced can be seen in our lives now which are lived so much more online than ever before. Told in both the present and with flashbacks to the panic, mayhem and utter confusion as the virus started to spread show an author with acute observational skills and understanding of human behaviour. Those essentially imprisoned in their homes, like hamsters in a cage, would have done well to follow my motto: question everything. 

This is an enjoyable read and well worth picking up if you're a fan of thought-provoking science fiction, but I feel it would also go down well with those we term as conspiracy theorists. It's certainly a well written, immersive, pacy and action-packed read with an oppressive sense of claustrophobia which underpins everything. Many thanks to Legend Press for an ARC.
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