Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson is a sequel to Legion and tells the story of another of Stephen Leeds’ very strange cases that take advantage of his genius that manifests with 47 different “aspects” ie hallucinations of people. There aren’t really spoilers for Legion below, so no worries. You can easily read Skin Deep without having read Legion since it focuses on a completely different mystery ;-). I love the plot of Skin Deep since it is that sort of near-future sci-fi where it could perhaps happen next year or next decade depending on how fast technology advances! My inner geek was very much pleased :D.
Note: I listened to Skin Deep on audio, which very much changes my reading experience.
Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson
Narrated by Oliver Wyman
Published by Subterranean Press on Nov. 24th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Sci-fi
Page Length: 208 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
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Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the new story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are hired by I3 (Innovative Information Incorporated) to recover a corpse stolen from the local morgue. But there’s a catch. The corpse is that of a pioneer in the field of experimental biotechnology, a man whose work concerned the use of the human body as a massive storage device. He may have embedded something in the cells of his now dead body. And that something might be dangerous…
- Before jumping into the story itself, I have to gush about how amazing the narrator for Legion and Skin Deep is. Each of Stephen’s aspects is a different person and therefore needs a different voice and the narrator nails it. I could almost believe there was more than one narrator, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t cheat ;-). He even does multiple female voices well!
- I am honestly a little obsessed with brilliant main characters especially if they are a bit eccentric (yes, I’m a Sherlock Holmes fan!). Stephen’s mental illness makes him unable to access all the knowledge in his mind on his own and he instead hallucinates other people with all of his skills. He needs to imagine his aspects coming with him (only a few at a time) and they have to speak to him and he to them in order for him to know what they are thinking. In Skin Deep we find out more about how Stephen has to interact within his own mind and it is so cool.
- I’m both a computer nerd and a biology nerd, so imagine my excitement when the plot of Skin Deep is revealed to be about using human cells as data storage (thumb drive, haha) and the dangerous problems that can result when a body goes missing >.>. Sanderson captures the current state of technology and where it could actually realistically go in the future so well that I never had a moment of disbelief.
- As I said above, you can easily enjoy Skin Deep without having read Legion. I actually don’t remember much of the events of Legion and never found myself frustrated by that. Similarly, you could then go and read Legion when you discover how awesome this mini-series is and still enjoy Legion since Skin Deep doesn’t spoil anything :D.
- Despite these two books’ ability to standalone quite well, there are small elements in Skin Deep hinting at something big in the wings for Stephen. I won’t give anything away since it’s too much fun to discover on your own, but I’m really excited to see what Sanderson has in store for this series. (Also, how freaking impressive is it that this is his side project?!?)
- The one thing that made Skin Deep an imperfect experience for me is the reference to things that happened in the past that I’m pretty darn sure didn’t happen in Legion. Stephen clearly has a history that he’s reacting to with Sandra, but it was referred to a little too often with too little contextual information and I found myself tuning out until the narration got back to the main plot.
Skin Deep is a very fun and fast ride. Sanderson packs a full plot into this novella along with some pretty awesome anticipation for where the series is going to go. Fans of Holmes-style heroes and near-future sci-fi definitely don’t want to miss Skin Deep or Legion!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson
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