The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whiteley – An Arthur C. Clarke Award Review

The Loosening Skin is most definitely one of those books I would not have read if it were not for the this award and unfortunately I wish I hadn’t. This is by no means a terrible book, its just not my cup of tea.

Whiteley has constructed what I assume is a parallel world in which people shed their skin periodically like snakes. These skins carry with the the telepathic memories of their emotional states. In today’s commercial world the skins became sought after commodities.

The story follows our heroine who acts as a bodyguard for a film star, they fall in love and the book explores how the concept of shedding ones skin effects this dynamic.

I guess the book is an allegory for loss and identity. It explores the ideas around relationships and trust all of which are laudable but my problem came with my inability to understand the skin shedding. It was treated very much as a tool to explore and not given the depth of understanding I needed.

Whiteley writes well and her characters are engaging. She plays with some interesting concepts but these are not drawn out into their fullest potential, this may be due to the length of the book. The story felt more like a novel than a full book and perhaps it was this brevity that stripped away the depth that I wanted.

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