Skin Deep

April 3, 2017 at 5:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

skinSkin Deep by Brandon Sanderson

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Stephen Leeds returns in the second book in the Legion series, with all of his 42 personas, once again investigating an unusual crime. This time, a body has been stolen from a research facility. Normally, a missing body isn’t enough to garner his interest, but when he discovers that the body is a guinea pig for a new kind of cellular information storage, he decides to get involved. It doesn’t hurt that he’s being offered a lot of capital for the job, and neither does it hurt when he discovers that the information in the body’s cells could mean the end of humankind.

The story is interesting enough, but it’s almost like Sanderson can’t decide if he wants to tell a story about the mystery, or a story about Stephen. He’s dropped hints in both novellas that maybe Stephen’s understanding of his personas may not be correct, and that mystery was more interesting to me than the other one. I understand Sanderson wants to write a third book in this series, and I’m hoping that it will focus more on Stephen and his personas than these two books have.

Skin Deep is more than twice as long as Legion, which is a plus, since I didn’t feel like Legion had enough time for either story — Stephen or the camera — to get enough going. The plot is a little more elaborate, and like I mentioned above, there’s more attention paid to Stephen and his personas, so I feel like it’s a better story, but I still had issues with it. Sanderson makes sure to cover all bases when he examines how Stephen’s condition would be handled in the real world, so he explains away how he imagines his personas eating food at a restaurant, even though he knows the plates will still be full when he leaves, but it felt like too much detail. On the one hand, if he left it out, someone would call him on it; on the other hand, it feels unnecessarily nitpicky. It’s a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t situation, and it makes me wonder if it should have been handled differently.

Also, I wasn’t thrilled with how Sanderson concluded the story. He has an assassin right in front of him, ready to shoot him to silence him, and she stops as soon as he has completed a hostile takeover of the company that has hired her to kill him, which makes him her boss, at which point he tells her not to kill him, and she complies. Huh? Can you say anticlimactic?

Skin Deep isn’t a bad story, but neither is it a great one. It’s somewhere right in the middle, dependable and solidly mediocre. For fans of Sanderson, this might be perfect (even when Joe Lansdale writes a mediocre story, I still love reading it), but I was expecting something more. Maybe the last book will wrap it up in a way that makes it all make sense for me.

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