Skinned by Robyn Wasserman is not the kind of book that is supposed to make you think, but it made me think a lot. Or maybe Ms. Wasserman was simply smart enough to get a very smart book aimed at teens past the YA publishing powers that be. Skinned sat around for a while in my book pile. I was too focused on poetry and finishing Jasper Fforde. I put it in my DVD player the day it was due to be returned. I didn't actually think I would finish it. However, after the first two sentences "Lia Kahn is dead. I am Lia Kahn," I knew I'd be up all night and I wouldn't care if I got a few days library fine.
Skinned is the story of Lia Kahn, a pretty, popular, rich girl who seems to have it all. She gets into a car accident and is horribly injured to the degree that they need to take her brain out of her body and put her brain in a mechanized body. Suddenly Lia needs to learn to talk, walk, feel, read, and everything else again. The people she loves are not entirely sure she is a person anymore. Her little sister Zoe who feels guilty because she bribed Lia into taking over her work shift which is why Lia was in the accident, has a kind of emotional breakdown and steals Lia's boyfriend (who in my opinion wasn't very worth it anyway).
The only people Lia can find solace in are other Mechs and her "natural" friend and fellow outcast Alden. Natural means he wasn't screened to eliminate any undesirable conditions such as nearsightedness. Most people in the days of this book are screened. Lia, who has always been sheltered from the ways of the world including corp towns which are where people when they don't have any credit or cities where people who are even less fortunate than those in corp towns, learns a lot about when she learns the stories of other mechs who were volunteered for the operation because they had significant disabilities and didn't want to starve to death even though this meant that they had to be white because those were the only mechanical bodies available. They had to forget where they came from. I do not know if the second part was required, but most of them seemed to do it even if they didn't like it.
The thing that made me think the most, and this may be due to my own circumstances was the concept of us and them. Us were either the orgs (normal human beings) or the mechs depending on which side you fell. It was argued that you couldn't belong to or care about people in both groups because you had to pick a side. I sometimes have felt a little like that. I interact a lot with the able-bodied world, but I spend a fair amount of time within the world populated by people with disabilities. Sometimes, I like Lia, feel that it would be better to simply pick one and spend all my time there. But I'm not quite ready to do that and neither (in my mind) is she.
I rate this book 9.0 out of 10. Congratulations to the editor and the author for making such an amazing book for young people. At least someone knows they're not all stupid. I am eagerly awaiting the audiobook to arrive in my library containing the second book in this series. The library says they have it, but I need to check back in about a month. Until then, I'll just keep wondering what happened to Lia.