In the Skin of a Monster – Kathryn Barker

In the Skin of a Monster – Kathryn Barker

Title: In the Skin of a Monster
Author: Kathryn Barker
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 29th July 2015
Pages: 296
Rating: 3/5 stars

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Caught in a dreamscape, mistaken for a killer . will Alice find a way home?

Three years ago, Alice’s identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She’s struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can’t get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is not what it seems, and Alice soon discovers that she has stepped into a different reality, a dream world, where she’s trapped with the nightmares of everyone in the community. Here Alice is forced to confront the true impact of everything that happened the day her twin sister took a gun to school . and to reveal her own secret to the boy who hates her most.

Set in country Australia, this book wasn’t what I expected it to be. Now I am totally craving a contemporary story about a shooting in a school, without the fantasy element! The first blurb I read for this book (before publication) didn’t mention anything about a dreamscape. It wasn’t until I read this review by Chiara at Books for a Delicate Eternity that I realised there was a fantastical element. (It’s a great review by the way – check it out for another perspective!)

The story switches between two characters, Alice and Lux. I couldn’t really connect with either of them. The character I liked most was Boots, but I also really liked Ivan, who is a monster. The secondary characters were so much more interesting! There was a bit of a twist with Lux’ story but I wasn’t emotionally invested enough to be shocked or excited.

The setting of the dreamscape is really creepy. I preferred the scenes that took place in the real world. It was kind of cool that the dreamscape reflected the nightmares of all of those in the real world, but I really wanted a story set in an Australian country town. This was definitely a book where my expectations hampered my enjoyment of the novel.

In the Skin of a Monster certainly has merit, but I was looking for a completely different story to the one I got. While still an incredible idea, I have never been a big fan of novels set in the dreamscape (as my sister would say, it feels like a cop-out when it’s all a dream…), but after reading some good reviews I thought I would give it a try. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but if anyone wants to write the contemporary I thought it was, give me a ring, because I am sure I will enjoy that immensely!

Have your expectations ever ruined a book for you?

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