Saturday, November 19, 2011

Review: Frozen by Robin Wasserman


Frozen (Skinned) by Robin Wasserman

Series: Cold Awakening (#1)
Pages: 386
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published: December 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9781442420380

The Download was supposed to change the world. It was supposed to mean the end of aging the end of death, the birth of a new humanity. But it wasn't supposed to happen to someone like Lia Kahn. 

And it wasn't supposed to ruin her life.

Lia knows she should be grateful she didn't die in the accident. The Download saved her--but it also changed her, forever. She can deal with being a freak. She can deal with the fear in her parents' eyes and the way her boyfriend flinches at her touch. But she can't deal with what she knows, deep down, every time she forces herself to look in the mirror: She's not the same person she used to be.

Maybe she's not even a person at all.

Lia Kahn died in a car accident. But Lia Kahn is still alive. She has to be one or the other, and after waking up, she's convinced of the latter. She's still the same Lia, albeit slightly less mortal and slightly more mechanical. But as her family and friends tiptoe around her at best, and shun her at worst, she has to consider that she isn't the same at all.

I began flicking through a little of Frozen just after it arrived, without the intention of actually starting for a while yet, but Lia's voice captured my interest immediately and her situation -- paralysed consciousness, separate from all of her senses -- tugged on my heartstrings.

Frozen was an intensely engaging science fiction novel. I can best describe it as M. T. Anderson's Feed meets The Adoration Of Jenna Fox. Frozen sets the scene for this series, introducing Lia and detailing her slow journey to accepting her new self. But Frozen, for this very character-driven introduction, is anything but dull.

Lia was the perfect one, before. Gorgeous, popular, athletic, and with a privileged family who (mostly) love her. She loses all of that when she's in a car crash and saved by the Download. She wonders after the procedure if she'd rather be dead or if she already is. Her old personality isn't the most likable, but it's so easy to sympathise with her, especially as everything that made her Perfect Lia slips away from her.

Robin Wasserman's writing style was smooth and elegant, evoking a genuine character voice. Lia's emotions and conflicts were portrayed realistically, and all of her actions were in character. I didn't have to agree with everything she did to appreciate her strong and distinct personality and invest in her story.

The ending felt incredibly clever in the way it leaves the characters in a position to make a huge turn-around. It drove home the realness, as well, with people acting terribly but realistically. Much of Frozen is about exploring humanity, and it's present in each character's prejudice and anger. In their emotions, positive or negative. These aren't charming, cheery characters you want to be friends with or just want to be -- they're who you already are. They're exactly like people really are.

Frozen was a brilliant beginning to the trilogy, focusing on creating the world and setting up Lia's situation and maturing her emotionally and, to a lesser extent, physically for promised tests of her character throughout Shattered and Torn. More touching than exhilarating, Frozen is a must-read for fans of Uglies and Feed and still strongly recommended for everyone else.

I give Frozen a 5 out of 5.