Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review: Skins: The Novel by Ali Cronin

Skins: The Novel - Ali Cronin

The summer holidays have arrived, and the gang at Roundview College is keen to get out and enjoy their break.
Effy, having nearly destroyed the friendship between Cook and Freddy, travels with her mum to Venice, hoping that distance will help her find a solution to her boy problem. But while in Italy, she meets someone new who catches her interest, and in the process, discovers some hard truths about herself.
Cook, trying to regain some of his cocky swagger after Effy dumps him, challenges his best friend Freddy with a ‘sexathon’. While the boys engage in mindless sex with complete strangers in an effort to forget Effy, their friend JJ is left to act as a ‘shag referee’- tallying up his friends’ conquests while secretly wishing he could be ‘normal’ and join in the fun.
Sweet Thomas and kooky Pandora are still very much in love, but Panda’s incessant need to take their relationship to the next level is beginning to drive her boyfriend away.
Twins Emily and Katie go on a three-week family holiday in France, but each is dealing with her own problems and their relationship is more strained than ever. Katie deals with her insecurities in the only way she knows how, while Emily pines away for her girlfriend Naomi, wishing that they could be together for the holidays.
Meanwhile Naomi is starting to consider her academic future, and wondering how her new love is going to fit into it.
Bridging the third and fourth seasons of the popular UK television show, this novel delves into the often-hedonistic lives of a motley crew of young adults- each dealing with issues involving love, friendship, pride and loss.

What I gained from reading this book:
While all of the teenagers in this novel (and television series) are completely different in terms of personality, they all share common concerns regarding their relationships with others. The relationships between Thomas and Pandora appears to be strong, yet there are underlying concerns that threaten to tear them apart. Through her misguided experiences with Cook (in season 3 of the show), Pandora now believes that sex is the ultimate aim in a relationship, and wonders why Thomas is so wary about engaging in the act with her. He can’t convince her that his love for her exceeds his need to get physically intimate, and this causes a rift in their understanding of each other. Similarly, Effy struggles to cope when her sexual advances are rebuffed, especially when this has never before been the case.
Emily and Naomi don’t have any problems in the sexual area of their relationship, yet they both have secret concerns about their future together. Naomi is considering going to university, and Emily wants to take a gap year and travel, but Naomi is unable to tell Emily about her plans because she fears it will be the source of an upheaval in their relationship. Freddy competes in Cook’s ‘sexathon’ competition but he still thinks constantly about Effy and his feelings for her. His guilt about his failed relationship with Katie only compounds the problem.
As is similar in real-life situations, the main issues focussed on in this novel are trust and acceptance. The teenagers in this text are limited in these traits and so their relationships suffer as a result. Basically, if there were more trust and honesty within their relationships, and an ability to accept the unknown, their lives would probably be very different.

The author really understands the characters and is able to match their thoughts and characteristics perfectly to those of the teenagers in the show.
This novel is also great because it acts as a bridge between the third and fourth season- creating an original story, but not changing the circumstances. So you could watch the third season, read the book, and then watch the fourth season on television, but if you don’t read the book, you haven’t missed out on anything. It’s a handy filler for those fans wanting a little bit more of their favourite characters.

There is a warning on the cover stating ‘Explicit Content- 18+’, and yes, there is a reason for that! If you’re not familiar with the show and think this is a wholesome teenage drama then you might be shocked at some of the language and actions of the characters. Take heed of the warning if you’re a sensitive or conservative person, otherwise you will probably be greatly offended by some of the content in this novel!

Rating: 7 out of 10

Genre: Teenage Fiction

Recommended for: Fans of the hit show who need their fix between televised seasons.

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

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