Puppet SkinPuppet Skin by Danger Slater
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

sometimes i really feel bad for the people who are following my reviews on here. cuz one day i’ll write a review for some literary fiction or popular genre book and the next day i’ll review monsterporn or a children’s book or a book with pictures of animals in silly hats and it must be so confusing: the people who started following me after they read one of my YA reviews will be horrified when the next book i read is The Trillionaire Tater Tots Caused Me Gay (and One of Them is Juggalo!), and the people who started following me after i reviewed some pulitzer-winning author will be horrified when i review some bizarro book where sharks attack the white house or something.

welcome to me, followers – it’s a roller coaster up in here!

as far as bizarro goes, this one is pretty inoffensive. there are some icky scenes, but mostly it’s a fairytale of adolescence; a reverse pinocchio, if you will (YOU WILL!), in which girls and boys are real the way we are real until they graduate from middle school, after which they are inducted into the world of adulthood by being turned into puppets, manipulated by strings extending upwards to an unknown source, no longer requiring food or experiencing emotions or worst of all – dancing. but this is no footloose reboot- it is way grosser.

despite knowing this is going to happen to her, as it happened to her parents and teachers before her, hannah is not cool with the whole impending puppet-thing. she begins to question the necessity of this transformation, exploring the borders of her existence, rocking the complacent puppet-boat until cracks appear and unusual and creepy things emerge. “unusual and creepy” is relative in a world where people become marionettes on a regular basis, but you get me.

hannah’s mother (or “mompet”) sees her restlessness and rebellion as a normal part of adolescence and some last gasp of independence before becoming tethered to her strings, and spouts motherly advice that makes total sense, until you remember it’s coming from a freaking puppet.

“There’s a naïve sort of certainty that comes with being a teenager,” her mother said. “You discover the world and try to claim it as your own.” Hannah’s mother then pointed to her daughter’s empty dinner plate. “You have not the perspective to see yourself as you truly are. Just an acorn amongst the oaks.”

which is horrifying to someone who is eating acorn mash, but then, so is talking to a puppet.

and if you think it’s jejune to have adulthood represented by the string’ed tethers of responsibility and the resulting loss of freedom, there’s a bit more to it here, and the ending delivers a pretty clever shift.

also, it has one of the few exchanges between teenage girls that actually sounds like how teenage girls talk which m. slater probably learned from all those teenage girls he’s had locked in his basement over the years researched diligently by watching television on the cw while fantasizing about having the cast of pretty little liars locked up in his basement.

“Inside of you, right now, there are 10 times more bacterial cells than there are human cells. I read about it on the internet. They outnumber us. That means that even with all the thoughts and desires and needs and feelings crowding you up like the air in an overinflated balloon, 90% of what you consider “you” is actually not you at all. It’s them.”

Jordan looked horrified.

“It could be argued that the whole reason you even exist in the first place is to give the bacteria a vessel in which to thrive.”

“That’s so gross, Hannah,” said Jordan. “Why do you know that? Why are you even thinking about that?”

Hannah shrugged.

“Whatever,” said Jordan. “I’m certainly more than just a vessel for some nasty germs.”

“You are,” said Hannah. Then she added. “But only 10% more.”

that’s how i remember it was to be a girl. before i became this old-ass puppet.

anyway, it’s fun and it’s gross and i approve of danger slater all over again this fourth (and a half) time out.

much puppet applause!

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this feels gauche, but when i announced i was starting a blog, everyone assured me this is a thing that is done. i’m not on facebook, i’ve never had a cellphone or listened to a podcast; so many common experiences of modern life are foreign to me, but i’m certainly struggling financially, so if this is how the world works now, i’d be foolish to pass it up. any support will be received with equal parts gratitude and bewilderment.

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