When I was a little kid, I thought that anyone over fifteen was basically a grown-up. Their bodies were already hairy and gnarled, just like school teachers, admin staff, and anyone else in a position of authority. Physical change seemed like the catalyst for all the mental and emotional changes that made the adult process kick in, when I would inevitably shed my fear of the dark, start liking tomatoes and lettuce, and stop losing every important document placed in my care.
Danger Slater has managed to distill all the raw discomfort and confusion of that phase, of being a kid-in-transition, and turn it into a bizarro nightmare centered around the ritualistic process of becoming a puppet. And done it in a way that makes the journey through his eerie world enjoyable.
Here is the synopsis
“Hannah graduates from middle school on Friday. That’s the day she transforms into a living puppet, like her parents and teachers before her. No longer a human girl made of flesh and feelings, but a perfect wooden new self, whose strings lead up from her limbs into an endless black void above. With no pain. No sorrow. No sickness. No fear.
“But Hannah has begun to suspect that something is very, very wrong. And in a world where emotion is treated like a disease, and unknown terrors lurk inside everyone, just keeping your soul alive past childhood might be the greatest challenge of all.”
As far as protagonists go, Hannah is a complete bad-ass. You’re in her corner from the start and can’t stop turning pages until the show is over. She written with a lot of heart, into a puppet world with Danger Slater’s unmistakable knack for rhythm and wild descriptions that make the story a fucking pleasure to read.
You can buy Puppet Skin here. Or, for more of his work, take a look at a review and interview with him about his last book here. You can also read a pretty funny essay of his about quitting the writing game to become a full-time Kid Rock fan.