A fast-paced dystopian thriller set in a world where humans have all become allergic to other humans
by Liam Brown
Legend Press, 2019
Following the outbreak of the plague that makes humans allergic to touch, the only way for life to continue is for all the survivors to live in hermetically sealed rooms, only communicating through the internet and never having contact with another person ever again. We experience this new life from the first-person perspective of Angela, a working mother whose monotonous working life feels as though it has barely changed… if it weren’t for the insane loneliness and the creeping dread of the disease outside her door. One day, however, Angela’s routine existence is unsettled when she spots a mysterious stranger walking through town without so much as a dust mask for protection. A stranger who is apparently immune to the disease and, more importantly, doesn’t trigger a reaction in others. A man who, as impossible as it seems, it might be safe to touch. By presenting a vision of a future that is at once preposterous yet somehow chillingly plausible, it forces us to question what it is that makes us human, and whether human connection is truly possible without physical contact. The novel is brilliantly paced, flashing back and forth between the grim, monotonous present and the rising horror of the scenes from the outbreak of the disease. It’s hard to choose but my personal favourite scene involves a visit into a virtual sex dungeon with the protagonist’s husband, exploring her horror, perhaps not at the sexual acts themselves, but at the participants’ willingness to abandon their own realities for the sake of fantasy…
Liam Brown is a hugely talented young British author whose writing has been shortlisted for several prestigious awards, including the Luke Bitmead Bursary (2014), Guardian Not the Booker Prize (2015, 2016), Bare Fiction Prize (2015) and Grist Prize (2016). SKIN is his forth novel after the acclaimed REAL MONSTERS, WILD LIFE and BROADCAST.