Beauty is only skin deep…
. . . or so the old adage goes and in Verastiqui’s “Veneer” it’s perhaps never been more true and more false at the same time. To understand why I feel this way, you’ll have to read the story though; I try to avoid spoilers of any sort in the reviews I offer.
The premise for this tale while not entirely new, builds on the concepts popularized by William Gibson, or for the more graphically inclined, “The Matrix” series of movies. The main characters who drive the storyline are all young adults but the themes of the story do surpass that age group and I doubt that YA readers were the intended audience here, despite another reviewer’s indication that Amazon apparently recommended the book based upon other YA selections. There are themes within the story that some parents might hesitate to share with young children but I didn’t find that there was anything that would discomfit a well adjusted teen.
The characters are all well developed and most readers will be able to recall someone in their own past that fits loosely into the general mold they initially portray; however, Verastiqui does a good job of developing the characters throughout the story and not letting the characters become caricatures of the various teen archetypes. In fact not only do the characters each have their unique voice within the story, Verastiqui develops a distinct narrative style for each of them that allows the readers to get a futher insight into the characters and their viewpoints on the experiences that shape the story. It’s subtle enough to not disrupt the flow of the narrative but to give each of the narrative styles a flavor that adds to the readers enjoyment. The pacing was good and the story itself intriguing, making it difficult to find a natural point at which to stop sometimes; I often found myself saying, “Just one more chapter and then I’ll sleep.”
For those that read Verastiqui’s earlier book, “Xronixle,” there are tie-ins to that work as well and Verastiqui appears to have an overarching setting and/or timeline that these books take place in, much in the same fashion that Asimov had tie-ins between several of his works that were not otherwise initially related in content; think of the original “Foundation” series and the R. Daneel Olivaw stories. The two books though are self contained and you need not have read one to enjoy the other. For the full effect and to get the couple of inside or internal references, read “Xronixle” first and then “Veneer,” but don’t hesitate to read “Veneer” first if you’ve got access to it; you can always go back and read “Xronixle.”
In short: I found this to be a good, well written story, that will likely leave you wanting more. Thankfully, it appears Verastiqui is already hard at work on another installment, so the wait will hopefully not be too long.