Thursday, September 23, 2010
Review; The Skin Map
Kit Livingstone's great-grandfather appears to him in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelieveable story: that ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks, but pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, they grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily habit only a tiny part.
One explorer know more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard, and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code--a roadmap of symbols--that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all of the pieces and discover its secrets.
But the Skin Map itself is not the ultimate goal. It is merely the beginning of a vast and marvelous quest for a prize beyond imagining. (From the back cover)
Before I start talking about the actual book, let me tell you one thing; this isn't all it's cracked up to be. By the description, I expected a dangerous quest to recover all of the pieces of this 'Skin Map'. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out that way. Not to say I didn't like this book--I did--but I just wanted to warn you that the description is misleading.
Now, as for the actual book; the plot and characters were superb. Especially the plot. It was a unique book, to be sure. I had never heard of these 'ley lines' before (in a real-world context, that is; I believe there were ley lines in Hero, Second Class), and the whole idea of a skin map, Omniverse, etc. was highly imaginitive. The characters were relatable--although I didn't exactly feel a pang of sadness when one of the characters died. That part could've been done better.
And the writing? As Lawhead has proved over and over, his writing is great and refreshing.
And now for the cons. It's not what Lawhead did--it's what he DIDN'T do.
First, I felt that the Skin Map could have been a longer book. Sure, it fell just short of 400 pages, but the plot moved slowly and didn't go very far before the book ended. In fact, I felt like I had gotten only into the introduction to these worlds Lawhead had created. Now I know about ley lines, Omniverse, the Skin Map and its history, etc., but this book was more about a primitive coffee shop than an epic quest for a Skin Map. No offense to Lawhead. :)
Second, there was a surprising lack of, well, Christ in this book. I saw several threads of religious thought that could be expanded in the next book, but there wasn't any of the amazing allegory that I found in 'In the Hall of the Dragon King' and the other books in that series. I was disappointed by this.
Third, (though this is rather related to my second point) I felt that I didn't really get any meaning out of this book. Whereas books like Dragons in Our Midst have values, morals, and themes (not to mention Biblical truths), this book had a lack of them. I just didn't find anything meaningful to take away with me. Perhaps this will change with the next book--perhaps not. But until then, this series isn't much more than an interesting adventure.
All in all? If you don't mind slow plot--and coffeehouses--then you'd like this book. It has a great plot and cast of characters. But don't expect to bring much meaning back with you.
Rated 8.5 out of 10.