Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey
When my students bring back books I have lent them, I can tell how good a book is by the expressions on their faces. Every one who has borrowed this book has come back looking very happy and has had the same question, “When is the sequel coming out?”
Skin Hunger is two stories told in alternate chapters separated in time but united in plot. It is as complicated as it sounds, but it is magically executed. What the characters strive for in the earlier time has been fully realized in the later time; what feels ominous but hopeful in the earlier time darkens greatly in the later time. The fear-inspiring unknown unites the two. The effect is deliciously thought- provoking. The resolutions of both stories lean ever more closely towards each other as the novel progresses. That connection appears imminent as the last chapter ends. It is no wonder my students breathlessly ask for the next book. I can hardly wait myself.
High school students and avid middle school readers love this book. There is romance, cruelty, villainry, magic, and sorrow. While I found nothing inappropriate in this book, the themes are mature – the abuse of power, the elusiveness of compassion – and the plot is complex. However, the depth of the two main characters – Sadima in the earlier time period and Hahp in the later – make the complex plot easier to follow. This is a book for teenagers that their parents and teachers can enjoy reading.