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Literature / Skinned

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A young adult sci-fi trilogy by Robin Wasserman. Lia Kahn was perfect: rich, beautiful, popular. Until the accident that nearly killed her. Now she has been downloaded into a new body that only looks human. Lia will never feel pain again, she will never age, and she can't ever truly die. Her brain will simply be re-uploaded into another body. Her friends and family desert her and she gets stares wherever she goes. Some strict Christians even believe she does not deserve to exist.


In Crashed, Lia no longer lives in before. Six months after the crash that killed her, six months after being reborn, Lia has finally accepted her new reality. She is a machine, a "mech", and she belongs with her own kind. It's a wild, carefree life, without rules and without fear, because there's nothing to fear when you can't die. The strict "Faithers", and their ex-leader, Rai Savona, are pushing for laws to declare mechs as property. Meanwhile, her friend Jude wants to kill the "orgs", or people. Lia gets caught up in the cause, but as plans become more and more dangerous she begins to have second thoughts. How far can she follow Jude? Is she willing to allow him to go as far as he wants to go? Is she willing to end lives whether they be Mech or Org, to protect her own life? What will she do for the ones she loves? In the end, Lia must choose where her loyalties lie.


These books provide examples of:

  • Adult Fear:
    • Lia's parents make the choice to recreate Lia's consciousness as an artificial intelligence in a mech. They're not that comfortable with the decision, especially since it means she will be immortal, perfect, and ostracized. The reason why Lia runs away at the end of the first book is because she hears her father debating with himself about if he made the right choice.
    • Zoie in the meantime deals with her Survivor's Guilt by stealing Lia's boyfriend and social status, while treating the mech replacement . It was her fault that Lia was in the fatal car accident in the first place, but Zoie never acknowledges it in the first two books. Then after Lia runs away, Zoie starts attending the Brotherhood meetings. The nicest thing she does is warn Lia that the Brotherhood is trying to figure out how to kill the mechs, since even she doesn't think they should go that far.
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  • And I Must Scream: At one point in the first book, Lia suffers from a "temporary disconnect between [her] body and neural network." This means that her body is completely immobilized while she's fully conscious. She then watches helplessly while several of her classmates poke at her, a couple guys look down her shirt, and one boy draws on her face. Fortunately, Auden carts her off to the school nurse's office so she can get help.
  • After the End: Some sort of nuclear disaster wiped out most cities on the eastern seaboard of the United States. The Middle East took heavy damage as well, Mecca and Jerusalem are specifically mentioned as destroyed. It's implied, that the series of events that led to a World War III, where nuclear and biological WMD's were used, began with several acts of nuclear terrorism. The nuclear devastation of the Middle East led to a decline of religion.
    • Italy was rendered "toxic" by unspecified events, presumably by religiously motivated terrorist acts.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The series ends with Lia merging her mind with the network. Given that the internet plays a role in almost every single aspect of human existence in her world, becoming one with the network renders her omnipresent and essentially omnipotent. First order of business? Reshaping the world as she sees fit.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Lia's opinion of the Faithers.
  • Body Backup Drive: Every night, the mechs have to manually upload the events of that day to a backup hard drive held by the organization that built the mechs, which is then uploaded to a new body should something happen. Note that this is only for mechs who live a conventional life; those off the grid have no means of saving a backup.
  • Crisis of Faith: After, among other things, the Middle East went to hell in a nuclear handbasket (Mecca and Jerusalem were specifically mentioned as destroyed) and Italy becane "toxic", religion fell out of fashion, mostly.
  • Drinking on Duty: The president is in rehab, because she's on drugs. The first mentioning of the president in the book was of her going AWOL from rehab.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Zoie after her Jerkass behavior warns Lia in Crashed that the Brotherhood is trying to kill the mechs they've taken hostage. She also sets aside her resentment towards the mech on seeing that Lia's parents are broken up on their oldest daughter having left.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In the second book, Auden and later Ani join the Brotherhood of Faithers.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Taken Up to Eleven with how Zoie after Lia's accident usurps her sister's social position. She steals Lia's boyfriend for one, and becomes popular with her. She also doesn't think that the mech is really her sister. They manage to form a truce by the end of the second book, due to Lia's dad bargaining for his daughter to return home.
  • Just a Machine: what many people believe of the mechs.
  • The Needless: The mechs are unable to eat, sleep, or breathe, have bodies that are self-healing and cleaning, and are unable to die. Of course, many of them think of it as Blessed with Suck.
  • Neural Implanting: In Crashed, Jude uses a connection to Biotech (the company that made them) to make various modifications for the mechs.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The accident happens the one day that Lia is covering for her sister's volunteering hours. She and Zoie are very aware of this.
  • Race Lift: in-universe example: Most of the main mech characters, including Jude, Riley and Ani, were placed in a white body because those (designed for rich white clientele) were the only ones available.
  • Unnamed Parent: Lia's Father's given name is never revealed in the series. He's only ever referred to by Lia (and Zoie) as "my father" or "Dad," and by other characters as "M[r]. Kahn." Lia's mother's first name is only mentioned once early on in the first book; otherwise she's "my mother," "Mom," or "M[rs]. Kahn."
  • Unusual User Interface: The mechs can log on to their "zones" using their eyes.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: What Lia's parents think of her post-accident. It's even worse since Lia didn't want to be recreated via mech, meaning her parents took the choice out of her hands.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Near the end of the first book Lia shouts at Zoie that Zoie was supposed to be the one in the car crash. Lia knows this isn't fair, but she hits her Rage Breaking Point at how she didn't want to be brought back as a "mech", all because she was covering for her sister.


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