Author: Jessica Khoury
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On Skin Island, even the laws of creation can be broken.
On a remote island in the Pacific, Corpus scientists have taken test tube embryos and given them life. These beings—the Vitros—have knowledge and abilities most humans can only dream of. But they also have one enormous flaw.
Sophie Crue is determined to get to Skin Island and find her mother, a scientist who left Sophie behind years ago. With the help of Jim Julien, a young charter pilot, she arrives--and discovers a terrifying secret she never imagined: she has a Vitro twin, Lux, who is the culmination of Corpus's dangerous research.
Now Sophie is torn between reuniting with the mother who betrayed her and protecting the genetically enhanced twin she never knew existed. But untangling the twisted strands of these relationships will have to wait, for Sophie and Jim are about to find out what happens when science stretches too far beyond its reach.(Goodreads summary)
As most of you probably know, it can be really hard to write a negative review for a book, especially when you got that book for free. But, you are receiving and reading them with the idea that you will give an honest and unbiased review, which is exactly what I am going to do. I was really looking forward to Vitro, I put in a request for this on Edelweiss and was basically begging to read it because it looked so good. But for me it fell short in every way possible and left me utterly disappointed in it. I have to use gifs to try and emote just how much anger and frustration this book made me feel.
My main issue lies with our lead character Sophie Crue, who receives this email from her mother:
I need you. Please come at once. I'll look for you on Friday. Do not reply to this e-mail.
Emergency. - Mom'
And following this email she runs away from her father and jumps on a plane to go to Skin Island where her mother works. What the actual f@!*? Seriously? How can I like this girl when she is quite clearly an absolute idiot. She talks about how her mother won't ever let her go to the island, not even to visit and yet she suddenly thinks her mum has changed her mind. What emergency requires a mother to ask her teenage daughter to jump on a plane and jet off to Guam? If she was really having a life or death emergency I am pretty sure there would be more important and helpful people to call. And SKIN ISLAND? How does she not expect an island with such a creepy name to hold some sinister secret? See, she's an idiot and I instantly hated her for her stupidity. Why does Sophie not question any of this and just run off blindly to go be with mummy? How can I not hate this girl?
Then she gets to Guam and needs to find a pilot who will take her to creepy Skin Island. But, shock horror, no one is willing to take her because Skin Island is suuuuuper scaaaweeee! But, have no fear because Jim Julien, childhood friend turned hot pilot is willing to take her there because, although he hasn't seen her since she was seven, they have this deep connection and will blatantly end up together. And that's when me and my gag reflex started to get to know each other better.
And then to make matters worse, Sophie is met on one of the smaller islands by a guy called Nicholas. Just some random dude who says he will take her to her mother. But literally won't tell her anything, just drops hints about what really goes on over at Skin Island. He's sending out all kinds of signs that say "I am bats!#* crazy, don't trust me" and Sophie is all like 'Okay strange, creepy guy that I don't know and my mum has never mentioned, I shall follow you blindly and trust you completely... because that's just the kind of idiot I am.'
It was all downhill from there because I didn't like any of the characters and if you don't care about them than you certainly don't care what happens to them. I was forcing myself to keep reading because I didn't want to give up and DNF yet another book. I know I should have saved my time but how can I really judge a book if I don't make it to the end? Well, I would have judged it anyway but this way I feel less guilty about it. I gave it all of my time and it basically gave me nothing in return, other than a headache.
I felt a major disconnect from the whole story. It felt unnecessarily long and I found myself nodding off as I was reading it. With a name like Skin Island you know instantly that it's not going to be everything it seems. I wasn't drawn in by this, it didn't excite me and I didn't like any of the characters. The most entertaining were the evil characters because they felt like Hitler-type caricatures (with gas chambers and everything) and it would have been comical if it didn't feel so insulting.
After finishing this book I instantly deleted it from my Kindle and felt all the better for it.
I feel this book might entertain younger readers because they might question Sophie's choices as little as she does, but I doubt it. I find it hard to write my review without major spoilers to rant about so I will stop before I give too much away. This was a hideous reading experience for me and I can't recommend it. On the plus side it does get fast-paced at the end and there are plot twists and revelations. I'm sure if the first chapter hadn't put me off straight away I might have even enjoyed the end a little... maybe, probably not.
*I received a copy of this novel from the author/publisher/publicist via Edelweiss in exchange for a free and honest review and received no monetary compensation for this review.