Monday, November 28, 2011
Book Review: The Skinner
A brief rundown: Erlin, Janer, and Sable Keech set foot on the planet known as 'Splatterjay', each with an agenda. Erlin wants purpose to her long-life thanks to being infected by the Splatterjay virus which gives its host a sort of immortality. Janer, accompanied by the Hive-mind, is looking avoid boredom -- though the Hive-mind has plans for him. And Keech, a thousand-year-old reification (basically a corpse with cybernetics), has finally tracked down the remaining criminals of a human-trafficking gang.
The story starts off with Erlin, and Janer goes along with Erlin, but soon, Keech takes center stage as his story is the strongest -- not to mention he's literally a walking corpse! I always thought of him as the SF version of a lich. And yes, The Skinner has a bit of a slow start as we're introduced to all these wacky characters, but it's necessary to get you feet wet before diving into this complex world.
The most impressive part is how much detail Asher puts into, not only the world-building of Splatterjay, but also the history of the social, political, and environmental issues surrounding the planet. It's as intricate, and well done as Frank Herbert's Dune. Splatterjay is mainly a water planet, dominated by sea life and the giant leeches -- oh, and the leeches are nasty buggers. If you're bit by a leech, you become infected with the Splatterjay virus, and immortality may sound great, but if you don't consume off world foods, the virus will eventually convert you body in the bare necessities for survival; like a leech.
And that just goes to show you how odd this world is, yet terribly intriguing.
There are a few other similarities to Dune, such as the intro of each chapter is a bit is an ongoing story featuring the fauna of Splatterjay, and there fish-eat-fish cycle. Not directly related to the story, but it helps to give you an idea of just how vicious and unforgiving this world is. And much like how water is the most precious resource on Arrakis, death (or the means to die) is the precious resource on Splatterjay. Because sometimes, living forever isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
If there was a negative thing to say about this book, and I'm scrounging here, I'd have to say that Erlin turned out to be the most boring character, compared to the entire cast. She wasn't exactly proactive and became a sideline character who offered support to our true main character, Sable Keech. Plus, you just can't top a SF lich. Janer was saved from also the being boring by the sheer fact that he was linked to the Hive-mind, and the Hive-mind was pretty amusing. Yes, even characters who never even made an entrance were more interesting than Erlin! But eh, it doesn't detract from the story.
So my rating: 5 out of 5 stars!