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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Under My Skin by Zoe Markham

Chlo is a girl with a big problem: she was brought back to life by her scientist father and now lives with a regime of hard-core skincare, stomach injections, and enough foundation to cover the entire cast of TOWIE.
Because Chlo is, well, a zombie. If she doesn’t top herself up with protein every few hours, if she misses an injection, if she lets herself be seen in public, then the secret government department responsible for Project Rise (a sinister scheme to raise soldiers from the dead) will find out she exists. And that will mean the end of her secret life and the death of her father; it will mean her mother died for nothing.

Did I mention that Chlo only has enough life-giving serum for a few months? So whilst she hides away in the attic, surrounded by heaters for her poor cold flesh, and immersed in Jane Eyre (there are lovely nods to Gothic literature in this book) her dad spends day and night in his basement laboratory, working frantically on making more.
This is high concept stuff, and I read “Under My Skin” in a gallop one sunny afternoon in my caravan – although an attic-y book-nook would have been far more suitable (I was very envious of Chlo’s ). The tale is especially good at conveying the claustrophobic atmosphere of Chlo’s world in the first third of the book, before she puts her foot down and demands to be allowed to go to school. It deals with teenage angst very cleverly and equates Chlo’s situation to every young person’s desire to break away from parental control. Only here, of course, the restraints which Chlo’s dad impose on her are a matter of life and death. Or should I say, undeath.
I found the boarding school sections a little stereotypical in parts, although the portrayal of toxic friends like psycho bitch Emily was perhaps fitting in a book about monsters. (Micro-quibble – if they’re that posh, I think they’d play lacrosse, not hockey.) But Daz is a fab Hot Guy for Chlo, who doesn’t seem to mind her stuffing herself with battered sausages every time she sees  him. Those chip-shop scenes made me laugh out loud btw, and were a lovely antidote to all the dark shadowy passages in Chlo and her father’s cottage hide-away.
Some key cinematic moments:
·        That scene when Daz takes his top off
·        That scene where Chlo is caught in the rain *shudders*
·        That scene at the school disco
This is the first book in a series, and I was disappointed when I got to 85% on my Kindle and realised that I wouldn’t get to see the denouement. But I will definitely be getting the sequel. I mean I’ve just got to know what happens to Chlo when…and then she… (cut for spoilers!)
This is less Frankenstein and more In The Flesh – which was one of my favourite TV series in the last two years.
It’s a meaty, angsty, Gothic-y read which teen fans of Day of the Dead, Warm Bodies, and yes, even Twilight, will love to get their teeth into.
Not literally of course.