Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Skin Map

I’ve signed up for a program in which I receive free books in exchange for book reviews (see for more info or to sign up for yourself). You know me, I can’t pass up free books!

First up is Stephen Lawhead’s The Skin Map, the first book in his new Bright Empires series. It’s about a group of people who travel via ley lines—portals that lead to other times and places. Some people are in search of a map originally tattooed on a man’s torso, while others are looking for loved ones who have gone missing in the midst of their own inter-dimensional travel. It’s somewhat of a mix between National Treasure and The Time Travelers Wife, and I found it entertaining. Less of a sci-fi or fantasy book, it feels more like a historical novel, taking place in England, Prague and Egypt. I must say though, if you find it hard to keep up with plots that don’t follow a linear time-line, you may find The Skin Map confusing (ie, if the flash-sideways in the last season of LOST mystified you, this may not be the book for you).

The Skin Map felt as if it were merely a setup to the next books in the series. The suspense didn’t kick in until page 330, leaving 70 pages to bring up questions that won’t be answered until later. I wish we could have gotten more closure or more info on why the characters are traveling through time and searching for the skin map so frantically. I suppose the open-ended ending is there to keep you reading the series, but I think even in a series a book should have it’s own story that rests on itself. At the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone we don’t know everything behind Lord Voldemort’s return, but there is a complete story with a beginning, middle and end. The Skin Map seemed to only have a beginning and middle. Even so, I give the book 4 stars.