Talk about waiting until the last minute! I finally was able to finish the book last night, so here is my review. In three words: I loved it! From the very beginning I found the book exciting, engaging and very well written. It was a treat to read and I am eagerly looking forward to the next.
As soon as I began reading The Skin Map, it drew me in. The action started right away with Kit’s series of unfortunate delays on his way across London. It continued throughout the story, and even though some parts were slower than others, there was always something happening to drive the story forward. While it’s easy to keep momentum going through exciting chases, fights and the like, sometimes it can be difficult when there isn’t as much physical movement. But Stephen Lawhead keeps the story moving very well, and I found it all exciting from the conversations between Kit and his grandfather to the shrewd negotiations of Mina as she acclimated to the new world she found herself in.
In the moments that I had to set the book down, I was always looking forward impatiently to when I could pick it up again. This was true from the very first line. Like John Otte said in his post yesterday, The Skin Map has an opening that immediately grabs the reader and draws them in. And then it doesn’t let go. The momentum is part of that, but I also found myself invested in the characters and where they were going to end up. It’s difficult for me to read books in which I don’t care much for the characters, but I had no problem here. I especially liked how both Kit and Mina begin feeling that they are in a dead-end relationship – and each thinks that the other is definitely the cause – but develop throughout the story to become better people. Finally, being a science nerd my entire life, I really liked the incorporation of ley lines into something science fictiony like time travel. I think it turned out to be a great vehicle for explanation of how the characters are able to pass from one universe to another.
While there are many other things I liked about the book, the final thing I want to touch upon is the quality of Stephen Lawhead’s writing. In the midst of the great story I continually found myself pleased with word choice, phrasing and the like. There can be a fine line between overly simplistic and needlessly complicated, and while for some it may seem trivial amidst an exciting story, writing quality does make a difference in how much I enjoy a book. How can you enjoy the action if you don’t understand what’s going on? And on the other side, I definitely get distracted if the same words and phrases are used over and over again. The Skin Map finds the happy medium between the two ends of the spectrum.
I would highly recommend this book, and in fact I plan on giving this book as a gift at Christmas. And I’ll definitely be reading the next when it is available.
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Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.