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Halfskin by Tony Bertauski

— feeling amazing
Halfskin - Tony Bertauski

Nix and Cali Richards (brother & sister) have suffered losses. Nix nearly died in a car accident that took his parents. He had to have an infusion of biomites to live as these tiny man-made stem cells could repair him from the inside out. Cali, the eldest sibling, has been his guardian since then, making it her life mission to keep him safe. However, the government has the Halfskin Laws: once a human becomes 50% biomites, he/she is no longer considered human and they are turned off. Luckily, Cali is a nanobiometric engineer.

This was a fascinating tale of what could be a near future. I truly enjoyed all the biomite talk and the societal implications. Plenty of thoughtful questions are brought up in this story. At what point is a human more machine than human? Does that negate their rights, including their right to life? I can see this book taking it’s place among science fiction classics.

Nix is an interesting character, struggling internally with the knowledge of what his future holds. He can’t live without the biomites and there is no real way to remove them. They are self replicating, so the longer one has them, the more the biomites take over the body. Yet he also knows his sister, Cali, will do whatever she can to try to save him. Incarcerated with other red-lining folks (those at 49% or higher biomites), he lives the life of a condemned criminal.

Now Cali is an even more interesting character because she has taken so much on her shoulders. Ever since their parents died, she has been the legal guardian of Nix. She also has a young daughter (the father having passed away). As you can see, she has a lot of stresses in her life, and that has been so for years. With her nanobiometric engineering background, she races against the clock to find a way to save Nix.

Another interesting aspect to this story is that there is a overarching cyber entity called Mother who is tied in to all biomites. The government created her to keep track of, and disable when necessary, the biomites. So Cali not only has to outwit the human law enforcers, but she also has to fool Mother.

All in all a very entertaining tale that I didn’t want to put down. Looking forward to Book 2!

The Narration: David Dietz did a fantastic job with the voices. He had distinct, believable voices for males and females, kids and adults. He was also very good at imbuing emotion into the character voices especially Cali.