Tuesday 24 March 2015

Book Review: Under My Skin by James Dawson

Title:   Under My Skin
Author:  James Dawson
Series:    N/A
Published:    March 2015 by Hot Key Books
Length:  302 pages
Source: bought
Other info: James Dawson has also written Hollow Pike, Cruel Summer, This Book is Gay, Say Her Name, and Being a Boy
Summary : Meet Molly Sue. Once she's under your skin there's no getting rid of her...
Seventeen-year-old Sally Feather is not exactly a rebel. Her super-conservative parents and her treatment at the hands of high school bullies means that Sally's about as shy and retiring as they come - but all that's about to change. Accidentally ending up in the seedier side of town one day, Sally finds herself mysteriously lured to an almost-hidden tattoo parlour - and once inside, Sally is quickly seduced by its charming owner, Rosita, and her talk of how having a secret tattoo can be as empowering as it is thrilling. Almost before she knows what she is doing, Sally selects sexy pin-up Molly Sue, and has her tattooed on her back - hoping that Molly Sue will inspire her to be as confident and popular as she is in her dreams.
But things quickly take a nightmareish turn. Almost immediately, Sally begins to hear voices in her head - or rather, one voice in particular: Molly Sue's. And she has no interest in staying quiet and being a good girl - in fact, she's mighty delighted to have a body to take charge of again. Sally slowly realises that she is unable to control Molly Sue... and before long she's going to find out the hard way what it truly means to have somebody 'under your skin.

Review: Sally Feather, Satanville fan, understudy to the main part in Little Shop of Horrors, otherwise shy and quiet girl, is heading home when she sees a creepy homeless guy screaming to get "it" out of him. Another day, she ends up in a tattoo parlour, where she is talked by mysterious owner Rosita into getting one. She chooses pinup girl Molly Sue. And then starts hearing her voice. And then starts losing time. Molly Sue seems to enjoy not being only a drawing any more, and, in the words of Rosita, "she's trouble."
I wanted to read this because I love James Dawson's work, especially Cruel Summer and Hollow Pike, and tattoos and possession and a TV show called Satanville, which is totally something I'd watch, make for something I was very excited to read.  Then I started reading. The opening scene is an audition for Little Shop of Horrors. I love that show. I could tell this was going to be good.
James' style is very similar to the one used in Say Her Name, full of little funny comment and  references. I liked it more in Under My Skin. I don't know why
My favourite character is Molly Sue. Yeah, she's the villain. But ohmygosh she's the best. Her first interactions with Sally is laughoutloud funny, I love her voice, and I love her feminism. Not an exact quote from page 160, but "Women aren't men without dicks. We're not missing anything. We're not holes to fill." and other parts of that speech. OK, maybe the situation that speech comes from and the methods she uses really aren't the best, but hey. The words are excellent. She also helps Sally stand up for herself, and for Jenny, which I'll get to later
'The other characters, I liked too. Sally develops a lot, with the help of Molly Sue but also with the help of her own experiences, such as with Todd(? Sorry, I've forgotten his name) and I love the final message she embodies of learning to live with herself and love herself and be independent.  Stan and Jennie are wonderful friends and the three of them are definitely friendship goals. Also, Jennie’s relationship? I think that was handled well-from what I’ve read, there isn’t much out there about abusive teen relationships (correct me if I’m wrong) and it is a real thing that can happen and I’m glad it’s a  thing that got brought up.
I think, like Say Her Name, Under My Skin would play out perfectly  as a film. That’s nothing against the book, it’s just the events, tropes, pacing and such fits well as a fun film with a serious undertone.   
On a final note, the aesthetics of this book are gorgeous! The tattoo style! The illustrations inside! The finish of the cover (stroke it!)! And the sprayed edges! Thank you very much, design team!
Overall:  Strength  4  tea to another story from one of my favourite authors –good plot, characters, and fun, and then extra love for  Molly Sue style feminism.

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Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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