Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review: The Skin Map by Steven Lawhead

The Skin Map (Bright Empires) 

Title: The Skin Map by Steven Lawhead
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published: August 2010
ISBN: 9781595548047

  On an ordinary day, Cosimo "Kit" Livingstone is rushing to go shopping with his girlfriend, Wilhelmina.  However, this is no ordinary day.  Rerouted trains, a malfunctioning transit card, unhelpful station agents, and traveling an unfamiliar part of London, all seem to conspire to keep him from his shopping trip.  Ducking down an alley for a shortcut, Kit stumbles into an isolated storm.  After emerging from the storm, he meets a man purporting to be his great grandfather Cosimo Livingstone.  The elder Mr. Livingstone requests his help for an epic mission.  Initially Kit scoffs at the old man, but when the old man calls him by his given name and peaks his curiosity, Kit agrees to a short conversation.
  As they make their way to a pub, Kit starts to suspect he's not in London anymore.  At first he thinks, he is in one of those historical villages for visitors.  Over a quick drink, his great grandfather enlightens him to the existence of ley lines, energy trails recognized and marked by ancient man.  The markers were placed at the spot where one could jump from one dimension of the galaxy to the next.  The ancients had knowledge but in the present ages the knowledge of the leys and their uses and how to navigate them have been reduced to superstitions.  Cosimo needs Kit to help him on a quest for a relic related to the use of leys.
  Kit is understandably flustered and refuses to get sucked into a scheme by some random old dude.  When he manages to return to his London, he treks to Wilhelmina, who is none to happy to see him.  Somehow eight hours have passed between his entrance and exit from the other dimension.  Wilhelmina is pissed to have spent her day off waiting for Kit only for him to arrive late telling some weird story.  Determined to prove his story, Kit takes her to the alley and shows her the ley.  In the journey between dimension, they get separated and Kit reunites with Cosimo and sets of to find Wilhelmina before it's too late.

I found the concept of the book enjoyable and somewhat original given my limited forays into sci-fi, time travel, quest literature.  The characters are ok.  Kit and Wilhelmina are ok main characters.  In the beginning of the book, Kit seems like a loser so I guess the choice between his boring life and interdimension travel was pretty easy.  Wilhelmina is way more interesting because she manages to assimilate to her new reality and accomplish many things and really hits her stride - all with only the barest understanding of what has happened to her.  Nevertheless while there are original plot points and characters, some of the other characters are pretty much from central casting.  New world, same old plot.  Reading through the book, I noticed a pretty massive inconsistency in the logic of the books universe; it happened several times.  While I realize this is the first in a series and maybe the inconsistencies will be explained later in the series, these are still pretty big plot holes.  For me, it was like watching a car get swallowed by a pothole.  That being said, I honestly can't say whether I would read book two of this series.  I find the whole idea interesting but what if the inconsistency is stll there.

***  This book was provided by booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest opinion.  *** 

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