Book Review: Charles de Lint’s Under My Skin

Posted May 28, 2013 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Charles de Lint’s Under My SkinUnder My Skin is a paperback edition on 2012 and has 303 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

five-stars

First in the Wildlings urban fantasy series for Young Adults and revolving around a core group of kids who have been infected. Somehow. Set in Santa Feliz, California.

My Take

Not at all what I was expecting. For one thing, it was located in California, and it focuses on middle-class high school kids. However, it quickly picks back up with Native American myths, supportive friends, and hey, it’s urban and fantastic — all in typical de Lint fashion.

The chapters alternate between Josh’s and Marina’s points-of-view, and each has their own big concern in this story: Josh’s new abilities and Marina’s love interest. Both characters are complex, warmhearted, and loyal with secrets that create most of the conflict. Of course, it’s the outside forces that rev the conflict up even more, adding plenty of twists and turns.

It’s an interesting twist on the shapeshifter genre, blending in Native American myths with mystery and conspiracy. And de Lint gives just enough to intrigue, just not enough to answer all the questions I have, and, dang it, I hate having to wait until the next story comes out!

Parents, you’d like this for the integrity and leadership qualities Under My Skin promotes. Normal kids with positive hobbies and interests who step up when its necessary. Respectful to their parents as well! Who knew…*grin*…

It’s a case of hiding in plain sight, trying to protect oneself and the others. With chases, kidnappings, and attempted rescues.

That’s lame…if the FBI is so hot to “help” those kids who are changing, what does it gain them to treat the kids this badly? Josh got a bit irritating with his attitude during his and Rico’s escape. I mean, hullo, what’s it gonna take to open his eyes?

As always, de Lint writes beautifully, and he’s created a story that appeals to kids of all ages. I do adore a young adult novel that doesn’t talk down to its target audience!

The Story

For the past six months, random kids are shifting into animals. No one knows why, and many kids are trying to hide what’s happening to them. The government is “helping”; they’re taking kids to government-run camps from which they never emerge.

Fellow classmates are accidentally killing each other, even as Josh finds allies. Except the bad guys get to him, and his allies will have a difficult time finding him, let alone rescuing him.

Too much is changing, too much is wrong, too many people are learning their secrets.

The Characters

Josh Saunders is seventeen and one of the old ones, a Wildling who will be able to command respect. He’s fed up, again, with his mom’s poor choices in the matter of boyfriends — Steve this time. Mom, Naomi, runs Dr. Esposito’s office.

Marina Lopez, a surfer madly in love and hiding her own secrets, and loose-lips Desmond are Josh’s friends. All three of them skate and play together in a band: Marina’s on drums, Desmond plays bass and keys, and Josh is lead guitar. Ampora is Marina’s sister.

Dillon Harner is a classmate who hates the shape shifters, but is great to jam with. Bobby White is another classmate, and his brother Chaingang takes an interest in Josh. Theodore “Chaingang” Washington heads up the Ocean Avenue Crips. Mike Castle is a bully. Cindy Hudson is a blonde surfer Desmond meets. Kevin Blain is freaking about what Castle and Canfield do. Barry Stewart is an older student and a whiz on the computer. Erik Gess is president of the Sunny Hill High Purity Club and a bigot. Rachel Armstrong seems to be attracted to Josh, now that he isn’t attracted to her anymore.

Ms. Chandra is the guidance counselor, and Hayden is the school principal.

Cory appears to be one of the old ones, Coyote Clan. A shapeshifter who gives out tips on surviving as a shifter. Elizabeth “Elzie” Moore is homeless and another shifter, a jaguarundi. Danny Reed is a deer of some sort, but he’s betrayed his friends. Auntie Min is a force to reckon with, la Mariposa de la Muerte. Rico has survived some nasty stuff in the illegal lab. Jenny didn’t, and the video feed Barry rigs catches it all. Tomás is up from L.A. to help.

Nira is a shifter who runs a secret blog offering advice to shifters. Her mother doesn’t know and believes fervently in Clayton Householder, a congressman and religious zealot campaigning to “quarantine” any child infected with this disease. Congresswoman Cohen is against him.

Detective Foley is investigating the attack on Steve. Police Chief Ted Neufield. Special Agents Paul Matteson, his partner Solana, and McCloud are with the FBI. Jason Lindel is the bureau chief for the FBI in Santa Feliz. Einhorn is Homeland Security.

ValentiCorp is making excellent use of strip malls and underground tunnels. Gaillard is in charge of Black Key Securities a ValentiCorp, their contracted security.

Spiritlands are another plane of existence, from whence the original shifters came.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a close-up of a teal jungle with a focused shot of Josh’s face and his beloved dreads. I love the overlay showing Josh’s shift!

The title is what the newspapers have christened those who change, the Wildlings, as the general public, the FBI, corporations, the unknown all gets Under My Skin.

five-stars

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