From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—In a high-tech future, Lia Kahn is a rich, glamorous, "it" girl at a prestigious high school. Then a car accident leaves her body mangled beyond repair. Rather than let her die, her parents take advantage of a new procedure that downloads the contents of her brain into a sophisticated mechanical replica of a human body. Lia is now a "mech," known in derogatory slang as a "skinner." She still feels like Lia, but she no longer breathes, eats, sleeps, or ages. She can no longer enjoy the easy high of a b-mod, the ubiquitous mood-altering drug that gets the rest of her friends through lunch, and her boyfriend only touches her when he's drunk. She is kicked off her beloved cross-country team because the coach believes her new body gives her an unfair advantage over her competitors. Religious extremists hold a protest when she returns home from the download operation, holding up signs that say "God made man. Who made YOU?" Lia can only see her new body and new social status as a tragedy. Thoughtful readers, however, will recognize that the true tragedy is her self-imposed isolation, and that the world is much bigger and more brutal than the halls of one wealthy high school. The book is written in snappy, short paragraphs with enough sarcasm, humor, and plot momentum to engage reluctant readers.—Megan Honig, New York Public Library
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With a premise reminiscent of Mary Pearson’s Adoration of Jenna Fox (2008) and salted with a bit of the nasty competition underlying Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girls formula, this tale of life after brain-download-into-a-mechanical-body explores the possibilities faced by 17-year-old Lia Kahn, neither fully dead nor currently mortal. Wasserman creates a plausible future where advanced communication and entertainment technology enhance clothing as well as teen social life. Lia was a leader among the rich, shallow girls at her school; now she is an outcast due to her status as a “mech head,” whose plastic body may be tough but whose emotions are those of her flesh and blood peers. A younger sister’s baleful dismissal, problems with past and potential boyfriends, auxiliary issues of fundamentalists, thrill-seeking mech-head games, and an irreversible mistake form the core of the plot, which moves swiftly toward a dystopian denouement. Well composed and engaging, this is an obvious choice not only for Jenna fans but also for readers of Peter Dickinson and George Orwell. Grades 9-12. --Francisca Goldsmith
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