Sophie Crue is going to help her mom after an ominous email sent to her. The only problem: her mother works on Skin Island, a top secret research facility in the Pacific that is supposedly working to cure Alzheimers. Instead, Corpus has created Vitros, test tube babies, and they have a less than moral plan for their experiments. With the help of her long-lost friend and pilot Jim Julien, Sophie goes to rescue her mom and gets a lot more than she bargained for on the trip.
This book started off fantastically. It was high-stakes and suspenseful and a perfect balance of science fiction and realistic fiction.
The mystery in the being of the purpose of Skin Island kept me flipping pages like mad. Admittedly, I checked this book out from the library solely because I’ve been seeing its cover around the blogging community. I only partially skimmed the synopsis, and I really didn’t have any idea what to expect, so everything that happened was a surprise.
It’s a refreshing change from the type of science fiction the young adult books have gotten stuck in: dystopias. This fad has me sighing every time I read or see a dystopian novel, no matter how much I love it. The book instantly starts from 1 star when I notice its a dystopia, and I don’t really mean to do it, but I’m just sick of the same structure. Corrupt government, love triangle, war, death, mostly happily every after…. I’m ready to move on, but I love science fiction.
I almost completely forgot the meaning of science fiction and only associated it with dystopias until I read this book and remembered all the interesting things that can spur from the same world we live in with minor modifications.
So basically I loved the idea, the plot, and everything about it structurally. Also, the characters are unique in that there isn’t an overused love triangle. In fact, there really isn’t much of a teenage romance at all. Sure, there is chemistry between Sophie and Jim, but I almost feel like there can’t not be any. But there is no, “oh, the building is blowing up and we may not make it out alive but instead of actually thinking of a way to escape all I can think about is kissing [insert love interest here].” The plot and the actual conflict always took seniority over their love life, which is more realistic considering getting a boyfriend is the last thing I’d be thinking about if I was stuck on a creepy isolated island who essentially hatched humans and used them for (no spoilers!) evil.
The only thing stopping me from granting Vitro 5 turtles is the strange tangent I thought Jessica Khoury went off on. Except it wasn’t a tangent. It was the whole last half of the book and really, the main conflict for Sophie. I figured the main storyline should have been about saving the Vitros, getting off the island, and shutting down the facility. Instead, it focused on the relationships between Sophie and her mother and Sophie and her secret vitro twin. Also, Khoury centered it on the vitros’ problems and humaness, probably to emphasize the moral violations Corpus undertook.
Either way, it seemed odd to me that Sophie’s main problem wasn’t really the company Corpus and their employees; rather, she had more difficulty with some of the vitros. If I had read the back of the book more thoroughly I probably wouldn’t have thought this a tangent. But it wasn’t really what I was expecting, and I found the problems of the vitros proving themselves to be human and overcoming Corpus to be a bit boring.
I really and truly did love this book, though. The freshness of having normal, doctor-y science fiction and the lack of love triangle is fabulous.