April 24, 2013

Review: The Skin Map - Stephen Lawhead

I received this book through BookSneeze ("Books are contagious" loved the slogan!), which has a slight focus on religious books, but also has other non-religious books, and The Skin Map, by Stephen Lawhead is a work of fiction - non religious, but aparently from a Christian publisher or something? It seems to pop up on Christian sites around the web.

I was sure I knew that author, but I couldn't place the feeling. I'm pretty sure it's about the "Taliesin" books, I think I wanted to read them, but haven't yet. Now, however, I want to read the sequel to The Skin Map because, as I was very frustrated and excited to find out at the end of The Skin Map, it is only book 1 of a 5 books series. Frustrated because I would have to get more books to find the end of the story (and wait for them to get ready) but excited because it's a great story and I'd be able to savour it for another 4 books (if that makes sense at all).

In The Skin Map we meet Kit Livingstone (real name - Cosimo) who is... No one. Has a sad life, a not-interesting job and an apathic girlfriend Willhelmina (Mina).

Kit goes out to meet his girlfriend one day and, after missing the train, takes a different path, only to stumble into the weirdest of storms and his great-grandfather who had been missing for generations. Cosimo, Kit's great-grandpa, shows him the way to a Ley Line, close by, and they jump into another world, another time and another place. It's a gift, of sorts, and Cosimo needs Kit's help for a quest.

When he goes back and finally gets to his girlfriend place it's late, several hours later that day, and he tries to show her the ley and the jump, so she believes him and doesn't get angry. However, they get separated and, I must say, I like Mina's story much more than Kit's. Mina wasn't a great character at first, I didn't like her, she was whining and complaining and ... Being annoying. But after she makes the jump and ends on her own, she becomes someone else - she becomes an independent, smart and interesting woman, someone with will to live and such fun character! You'd never think they're the same.

Kit, on the other hand, as many pointed out, is not a... Compelling character. He is, sad to say, quite dull. His narrative voice is full of fear and confusion, like he's not quite sure of anything, while Mina's is much more interesting.

Kit and Cosimo start looking for Mina, because being lost, she may endanger the whole universe by creating disturbances in time - when you travel through a Ley Line you end up in another universe, anywhere in time, but if you change something (as a Doctor Who fan, I'd say "if you try to change a fixed point in time") there are consequences and they can be terrible and possibly rip off the universe apart or something. However, the Burley Man (the enemy!) always seem to know where they are and follow them around, looking for The Skin Map.

I don't want to open up more of the plot, but I can tell that Time Travel, Universe Travel, different cultures, we have ALL of those and I really liked it. However, the ending is very frustrating. I only found out then that it wasn't a standalone work, so I was depressed to know that I would have to wait some time to get all the books as only 3 out of the 5 total books were released, although there has been one release each year, so I'm guessing Book #4 comes out this year. Still...

You can buy The Skin Map at Amazon.

The Skin Map's trailer is very well done, so I'll leave that for you here: