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The International Writers Magazine: Review

Skins: The Novel by Ali Cronin
Published by: Hodder and Stoughton
ISBN: 978-1-444-90004-0.
Kelsey Churcher review

Many people will be familiar with the television series of Skins, currently showing on E4.  Even if you are not an avid watcher, you will be familiar from adverts and articles in magazines.  It has become almost a cult phenomenon, exposing the hedonistic attitude of teenagers as they deal with college, relationships, life and the future. 


Set in Bristol, the teenagers are out of Roundview College and anticipating their summer break, trying to get away from or face up to their problems.  Take for instance, Effy, who essentially is the ‘leader’ in this group of friends.  She is off to Venice with her Mum, hoping to make her mind up about whom she loves.  Viewers of the show will understand that last series, Effy longed to be with Freddie, but instead she slept with Cook, the cliffhanger resulted in her sleeping with Freddie on a camping trip and smashing his then-girlfriend, Katie over the head and running away.
            So she ends up in Venice, with a Mother, who on the surface, seems to be depressed  and a chain-smoking uncaring mother to Effy, but there is a tender moment where Effy has too much to drink and becomes ill, and her mother looks after her.  Their mother/daughter bond is later destroyed however, when an older man Effy has been lusting after turns his affections to her mother and Effy hears them upstairs, making love.
            It is not just Effy that has problems to deal with; lesbian couple Emily and Naomi also face a hard time over the summer when Emily has to go away with her sister, Katie and the rest of her family.  However, whilst Emily is away, Naomi begins to question their relationship when she thinks about going to university, whilst Emily wants them to travel together first.  Emily meanwhile, has to look out for her wayward sister, and when she goes missing, Emily is tempted to cheat on Naomi with a young French girl, as calls and text messages have gone unanswered; however unbeknown to Emily, mischievous sister Katie has hid her phone.
Other characters’ problems include JJ, Cook and Freddie’s friend who seems a bit of a third wheel when Freddie and Cook embark upon a contest of who can sleep with the most girls.  Cook and Freddie like to rival each other, now both having slept with Effy their friendship has changed as a result.  The love story between Panda and Thomas is quite sweet, but the novel does not really make a connection with their characters on screen.  In the book, Thomas wishes to wait before sleeping together, but in the TV show, it is clear to see that they already have.  There-in lies the only problem I have with the book – People must be aware of the TV show already to understand it, and Cronin must relate the text to the programme.  However, it was enjoyable and easy to follow.
Overall, I would estimate the reading age of this novel to be for older teenagers, as there is explicit content, swearing and references to drugs, and for that the novel has stamped on the front cover, an “18+” certificate, which I advise interested readers to adhere to.

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