Monday, January 14, 2013

Review: Halfskin by Tony Bertauski

I'm not a big fan of New Year's resolutions. I figure, if you're going to do something meaningful you may as well start doing it immediately, why wait until the Earth get's back into the position against the background stars that we humans have defined as January 1? So in reality, this has nothing to do with waiting until January 1st and everything to do with the fact that I am incorporating this into my platform  right now because I thought of it right now.

As a writer, I've always thought I should probably read more. But I don't really think you can improve your writing by reading. The only way you can improve your writing is by, well, writing. But reading is good for keeping your finger on the pulse of what is out there. It is also good for exposing yourself to new styles and ideas to keep you from getting into a rut. Also, when you can find a good book and have a little time, it is a lot of fun.

Quite honestly, however, I've been having a lot of trouble finding books I really like. The current offerings from the major publishers just haven't been scratching my itch. Lately I've found some nice lists on Goodreads, specifically in the Authors Requesting Reviews section, that seem more like what I like to read, and not surprisingly, to write. So it makes sense that my New Year's resolution is not only to read more, but to review as well. I hope my readers will help keep me honest. I'm not going to promise to review a book weekly, but certainly once or twice a month isn't too much, and will still leave me enough time to write. Too many people are asking about the sequel to Multiplayer that I've been working on. As to the kind of novels I'm going to review, I have no interest in reviewing novels published by the major publishers. They are all virtually identical and have already been reviewed ad nauseam by employees of the publisher. I am much more interested in the creative and thought provoking work being published directly by authors and by micro presses. That is where today's literary action is! So check out my reviews and pick up some of these great books. You won't be disappointed!


Halfskin by Tony Bertauski
Publisher: Tony Bertauski, 2012

Plot: 5
Characters: 5
Setting: 4
Execution: 3
Cover: 3

Halfskin by Tony Bertauski is a story set in a near future. Most of the setting is familiar except nanotechnology, in the form of biomites, is being used to enhance, heal, and perfect the human body. However, harkening to the well known “grey goo scenario,” there are those who fear that these biomites will ultimately bring out the extinction of mankind. As a result, laws have been put in place to limit the percentage of biomites that make up a person. When your percentage gets too high your biomites are shut down, usually killing the host. This technology is handled quite well by the author, though at times he almost writes himself into a corner, creating a few scenes that feel stretched.

One of the characters has an unusually high percentage of biomites for their age due to a car wreck as a child. As a result, this character approaches the critical percentage much sooner than is typical, forcing the government into action. A sibling rushes to his rescue and they are off on a thrilling chase, staying one step ahead of the heartless federal agent pursuing them.

I enjoyed Halfskin and at no point did I find the reading unpleasant. Anyone who likes near future science fiction will probably enjoy this story. There were echoes of Michael Crichton’s Prey as well as a bit of Logan’s Run throughout; though at no point did the plot seem derivative. I was not always happy with the author’s description of the setting and it left me confused occasionally, and I did find a few of the thematic devices a tad cliché. On the other hand, the characters were well developed and created a strong emotional attachment. Readers who like nice pretty bows on their stories may find the ending a bit unsatisfying, but I’m not one of those and felt that it was handled well.

Overall, a well-told, compelling story that I would recommend to those interested in this kind of work, though there is not a lot of overlap with other genres. For additional information on my rating system, please visit my review page at .

Until next time,
John C. Brewer

1 comment:

  1. Great review, John. Sounds like an interesting book!