Thursday, 29 October 2015

Review - Legion: Skin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

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…

What follows is a visionary thriller about the potential uses of technology, the mysteries of the human personality, and the ancient human need to believe that death is not the end. Legion: Skin Deep is speculative fiction at it most highly developed. It reaffirms Sanderson’s place as one of contemporary fiction’s most intelligent—and unpredictable—voices.

Everything that Sanderson touches turns to gold lately.

Now I know many of you would disagree, but in all honesty I just can't get enough of his work right now. And Legion: Skin Deep continues this trend, as protagonist Stephen Leeds and his aspects return in another enthralling and mysterious adventure.

This time around Leeds is hired to recover a stolen corpse that holds secrets.. secrets that could unlock the potential of the human body. As Leeds and his aspects investigate they find themselves caught up in a mystery that explores not only the potential uses of technology, but also the concepts of life and death. 

So what did I love about Legion: Skin Deep? Everything (I grow tired of saying this about Sanderson but damn, his work is just off the charts in terms of imagination and readability). 

Skin Deep is better than Legion in every way possible. And Legion was awesome. It is longer for starters (one of my biggest complaints about Legion), allowing Sanderson to explore Leeds and his aspects more effectively. It also allows for a deeper and more intricate story, and as a reader I found myself drawn in a lot more this time around as the plot progressed. The mystery itself was a cracker, and I adored how Sanderson weaved philosophical discussion and questions about life and death (something that interests me as well) alongside things like coded and embedded DNA and the human body becoming its own personal computer. I mean.. what is not to like? 

However, what makes this series soar is Leeds and his aspects. The mystery surrounding them and their origin remains, and I think this is what makes his character so compelling for me. The interaction between them is also incredibly humorous and engaging, with each aspect having their own backstory and agency throughout the story. I adored characters like JC (a paranoid ex Navy Seal who specialises in security) again in Skin Deep, as they bring a real sense of fun-crazy (yes, I made that word up) to the plot. 

Overall Skin Deep is another very impressive entry from the mind of Brandon Sanderson. Fans will love it, and I suspect newcomers to his work will also enjoy it as well. 

Highly recommended for anyone looking for a thrilling mystery with a touch of strangeness.

4 out of 5 stars. 

A review copy was provided. 

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