Under My Skin – James Dawson

Published October 9, 2016 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

Meet Molly Sue. Once she’s under your skin there’s no getting rid of her…

Seventeen-year-old Sally Feather is not exactly a rebel. Her super-conservative parents and her treatment at the hands of high school bullies means that Sally’s about as shy and retiring as they come – but all that’s about to change. Accidentally ending up in the seedier side of town one day, Sally finds herself mysteriously lured to an almost-hidden tattoo parlour – and once inside, Sally is quickly seduced by its charming owner, Rosita, and her talk of how having a secret tattoo can be as empowering as it is thrilling. Almost before she knows what she is doing, Sally selects sexy pin-up Molly Sue, and has her tattooed on her back – hoping that Molly Sue will inspire her to be as confident and popular as she is in her dreams.

But things quickly take a nightmareish turn. Almost immediately, Sally begins to hear voices in her head – or rather, one voice in particular: Molly Sue’s. And she has no interest in staying quiet and being a good girl – in fact, she’s mighty delighted to have a body to take charge of again. Sally slowly realises that she is unable to control Molly Sue… and before long she’s going to find out the hard way what it truly means to have somebody ‘under your skin’.

What did I think?:

Under My Skin is yet another fantastic YA read from the huge British talent that is James Dawson. After the brilliance of Say Her Name, I wasn’t sure if the author would be able to write another blinder and while this story isn’t as inherently terrifying as its predecessor, it’s an entertaining and compelling read and cements James Dawson as true YA royalty.

As I was reading Under My Skin, I kept thinking of a Point Horror book I read when I was younger called The Perfume where a teenage girl is taken over by a malign force that makes her do terrible things. In a similar way, this is what happens to seventeen year old Sally Feather although the wrestle of control is with a tattoo that Sally is talked into getting on her back, an American pin up girl called Molly Sue. At first, when Molly Sue starts to talk to Sally, she is excellent for boosting her fragile self-esteem and confidence but before long, Molly Sue starts to want more control of Sally’s body and mind, to do with as she pleases (and NOT good things by the way).

I loved Sally as a character, in fact she very much reminded me of myself when I was at school. I could have certainly done with a milder version of Molly Sue for myself perhaps! My favourite character had to be Molly Sue herself though. Bold, brassy, super-confident and just a little bit crazy she was the perfect villain in this exciting novel which was so easy to read that I pretty much finished it in one sitting. I also enjoyed the characters of Sally’s friends, who seem to be her only joy amongst the terrors and  deadly social politics of high school. I think I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of the author’s work that he has a real talent in writing believable teenagers and believable adolescent situations and this book took me right back to this confusing and to be honest, slightly traumatic time! This is a fabulous book for the target YA market but is also one that more than a few adults (like myself) would enjoy for sure.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


2 comments on “Under My Skin – James Dawson

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