My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In the world of Under My Skin by Shawntelle Madison, people want nothing more than to become a part of the Guild – the most important and prestigious part of people’s everyday lives. When Tate Sullivan undergoes testing and is chosen to enter the mysterious world that the Guild is a part of, she expects a better financial life for her remaining family members but has no idea what is in store for her. General Dagon, the man who paid an insane amount of money to purchase Tate, turns out to have a lot of plans roaming around in his brain. In order to fulfill them, he takes over Tate’s body and starts a relentless fight against her mind, determined to claim sole control once and for all over both her mind and body.
I got this book through Netgalley a while back, because I really liked the synopsis of the book. The cover, on top of that, is very appealing to look at so I thought I’d give it a go. I’d wanted to read this book a while before, but instead of forcing myself to read it before the release date as I had originally planned, I gave myself more time to really sift through the story and absorb it better than I have done with previous books. This in order to understand the story as accurately as possible and to live it alongside the main character.
This book definitely did not disappoint. Tate, the main character, was a really nice main to follow throughout the entire story. She was strong in a lot of ways and still had little moments where she showed how fragile she could be in this twisted reality that she found herself in. I could relate to her responses to what was happening to and around her, so it was nice to be inside her head for the majority of the time. Being inside the mind is a big part of the story and it was a great way to get to know the main character on a personal level, instead of just having to deduce things from their actions and thoughts once in a while.
General Dagon was a very believable antagonist. He quickly got on my nerves and I wanted nothing more than to strangle the life out of him at some point, but even he was given depth through the moments where he was in control or when we were given a brief glimpse into his previous years. I won’t say it made me feel any amount of empathy for him, but it gave insight to a bad guy character that would’ve otherwise been very bland and straightforward.
The side characters were all alright for me. I really enjoyed reading about Desdemona, she was a lovely character, but I also really enjoyed reading about Justina and Zoe. Justina was just as bad as Dagon, no doubt, but she was equally as interesting as Dagon was in their joined wretchedness. Quinn, Tate’s love interest, was a good addition, though I still feel like I’ll need the remaining books in the series (?) to really grow very fond of him. He was a fine character (very witty), don’t get me wrong, but I don’t seem to have an overly big fondness of him at this time, so I can’t wait to see how that develops later on.
The story was believable – I wrote about this in one of my status updates. The pacing was a little slow sometimes and I really dreaded all the passages about war tactics and war references (wars bore me to no end!), but it was handled as accurately as possible. I almost felt as if the author consciously made the decision not to info-bomb the reader with too much war-related material, which was nice (and very much appreciated!).
In the end I rated Under My Skin with a 4 stars out of 5 rating. This because of a protagonist I enjoyed reading about, an original storyline that drew me in from the beginning and because of the mental fight for dominance that never got boring. It was a fight to remain yourself, to stay in control and that is a message in books that I can really appreciate. A definite recommendation for people who love dystopians – allow yourself to get lost in this story, so long as you don’t lose your grip on yourself.