Monday 23 March 2015

Book Review: Under My Skin by James Dawson.

Product details:
Publisher: Hot Key Books.
Paperback, 302 pages.
Release date: March 5th 2015.
Rating:  4 out of 5.
Ages: 13+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 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'.

 Mean Girls meets Miami Ink with a murderous twist, Under My Skin is the latest in an ever growing line of must reads from UKYA horror aficionado James Dawson.

Seventeen year old Sally Feather is not one to draw attention to herself. She might have a voice that could see her shine like a star on any season of The X-Factor – even the Leona season, but when it comes to auditioning for the school play, Sally is a bundle of nerves and more than happy to take a bit-part – especially if it keeps resident mean girl Melody Vine off her back.  Sally’s life is one of rules and regulations: her parents are old, boring, set in their ways and strict as hell with it, ensuring that Sally never steps out of line. Sally’s only release is nights spent with her BFF’s Sid and Jennie watching episodes of Satanville – their CW obsession – on a loop.  Satanville, and its two dishy male leads are just about enough to keep a girl happy, but Sally’s got her eye on someone else. Todd Brady - the hottest boy in school (who just so happens to be Melody Vine’s boyfriend!)

Uh, not that Sally would ever go there. She values her life, boring as it may be, thank you very much.
However, one day, while in the seedy part of town, Sally is drawn, as if by an actual magnet, to a tattoo parlour where she’s suddenly convinced she needs a tattoo in her life. Enter Molly Sue, a tattoo that literally comes to life on Sally’s skin. Molly Sue is the talking – and very opinionated with it - tattoo that nobody ever wanted in their lives, but Sally’s stuck with her, so she just runs with it. Hey, Sally’s an easy-going kind of girl. And living with Molly Sue is not so bad – she gives Sally a sassy makeover which increases her popularity at school (and with the opposite sex) ten-fold. Best friend Stan (who so wants to be more than friends) is not impressed – he thinks Sally is changing too fast, moving with a new crowd,  and leaving him behind – but oh, if only he knew the truth! 

Molly Sue is not just about makeovers, though – she’s all about getting what she wants, even if that sometimes means breaking the rules. Who am I kidding? When Molly Sue is involved, rules are always broken – and sometimes heads roll too.   Soon, Sally is partying like a wild thing a hooking up with Todd Brady like it’s nobody’s business. Oh, but it is somebody’s business. And when Melody Vine finds out what her boyfriend’s been up to with Sally, things get really messy, ‘cos Molly Sue, as you might have guessed by now, likes to get her own way. And she’s not going down without a fight. 

I’ve read all of James Dawson’s YA to date and Under My Skin is one of his best. OK, so my personal favourite is still Cruel Summer (that one got ALL THE STARS from me) and will take some beating! Nevertheless, Under My Skin is a good, fun read with great characters, an intriguing storyline and Dawson’s signature strengths throughout – great dialogue, superb wit and characters that read very real. Under My Skin also has a trump card in Satanville – Sally’s TV obsession which may or may not be based on The Vampire Diaries – which injects a whole lot of fun into the text. 

In short: Under My Skin is another hit from James Dawson.  I would like to have known more about Molly Sue’s origin story –because the girl sure does have a whole lot of issues! -  but I guess she’s keeping that one a secret for now! 

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