Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review: Legion: Skin Deep

Title: Legion: Skin Deep
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Pages: 199
ISBN: 9781473212497
Publisher: Gollancz
Published: 24 September 2015
Genre: Crime/Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

Buy it from:
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It's not his own genius that Stephen Leeds gets hired for. Clients want to tap into the imaginary experts that populate his mind - and it's getting a bit crowded in there.

Now Stephen and his internal team of 'aspects' have been hired to track down a stolen corpse - but it's not the corpse that's important, it's what the corpse knows. The biotechnology company he worked for believes he encoded top-secret information into his DNA before he died, and if it falls into the wrong hands, that will mean disaster.

Stephen Leeds a.k.a. Legion is back and better than ever! Legion: Skin Deep picks up after the events in Legion. This time around Leeds and his diverse collection of aspects are recruited to recover a stolen corpse. But it’s not just any missing corpse – top-secret information is encoded within the corpse’s very DNA and the biotech company responsible for the research will go to great lengths to make sure that the information stays secret. Add a lethal assassin hired by a mysterious third party and you have all the ingredients for a rollicking adventure.

All the familiar aspects from the first instalment make a welcome return, but it is J.C. the gun-crazed, self-styled ‘Interdimensional Time Ranger’ that absolutely steals the show this time round. His banter with Leeds and the other aspects are hilarious.
“I’ve got it figured out, Skinny. We’re all from this other place, see. And when you need some help, you reach out and snatch us. You’re some kind of physics wizard.” “A . . . physics wizard?” “Yup. And I’m no Navy SEAL. I’ve just got to accept that.” He paused. “I’m an Interdimensional Time Ranger.” (p66)

Throughout the novella we get the chance to learn more about Leeds, how he copes with his condition and how he is still in the process of discovering more about himself and the facets of himself embodied within his various aspects. He continues to grow as a character and in his moment of greatest danger, when he is left without the help of his aspects, it is Leeds himself who rises to the occasion.

The plot progresses at a blistering pace and even though Skin Deep is twice the length of Legion the end still comes way too quickly. While the ending is satisfying some important questions still remain unanswered. Who is Sandra the mysterious mentor who left without a trace? What happened to the vanished aspects? More! I want more!

The Verdict:
Legion: Skin Deep is a quick, captivating read filled with fully-realised characters, lots of humour and just enough suspense to keep you anxiously turning the pages. For a novella it touches on some very interesting issues - the nature of time, freedom of information and even religion. Like its predecessor, you are left craving for more when the end comes far too quickly. I only hope that Sanderson stays true to his prolific form and provides us with another instalment soon. Highly recommended!

The Rating: 7/10 (Very Good)

Thanks to Jonathan Ball Publishers for providing the review copy.

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