Review: Under My Skin (Immortality Strain #1) by Shawntelle Madison

Under My Skin by Shawntelle Madison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: NetGalley
Publication Date: December 9th 2014
Publisher: indie
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Dystopia, Dark, Manipulation, Love, Friendship, Family.


Everyone wants to either be a member of the Guild or work for them. Little does the populace know that the Guild hides sinister secrets…

For Tate Sullivan, life in her small, coastal town is far from glamorous. The affluent lives of the Guild members and their servants isn’t something she has ever wanted. But all sixteen year-olds must take a simple test, and Tate’s result thrusts her into the Guild’s world, one where they hide horrible plans for those they select. Tate must fight the relentless General Dagon for control of her mind, body, and soul to keep the one precious thing she has always taken for granted: herself.

Her only ally is the same handsome boy she is pitted against in General Dagon’s deadly game. Quinn desires nothing more than to end the life of General Dagon who has taken over Tate’s mind. While romance blooms between Tate and Quinn, General Dagon plots to eventually take over Tate’s body, and love might end before it even begins.


Rather impressive. Dystopias tend to feel hit or miss for me, so I wasn’t sure if the story would live up to its cover.

But it does. When you start reading this, it’s like there’s an atomic bomb that’s been unleashed because you will not be able to not pay attention to everything happening. It’s crazy obsessive. I just couldn’t stop reading.

Except, it’s not what I liked most about this story. What was so well done was the ambience that was both moderately dark and mysterious with a touch of suspense and giving a feeling of reality to the story.

Tate is one marvellous heroine. She’s exceptional, by the way she thinks, her assurance and how greatly she wants to survive and make a change. Help people. However, I was never one hundred percent sure why she veritably passed the test, which, of what I recall, lasted something close to one minute. What did she do? What was with the ‘touch?’ Those are questions I asked myself throughout the reading and, if some little information was given on those points here and there, it wasn’t enough to convince me. So I hope there will be more being said about it in the sequel.

This is undoubtedly very different from the dystopias I have read before. There may be a war-setting in here too – this is common to every dystopian book as I realized – but everything else is distinctive from the others. The main subject is unique and introduces another problem the society might have, the characters are in struggle from the beginning and there’s actually a lot that is being done in this first book which makes it satisfying by the end. Plus, it is the first time that I read about such an internal fight that multiple characters have. Which was both riveting and terrifying – but in a somewhat intriguing way.

It’s a good thing that the romance is more in the second – and even third – plan because it truly wasn’t something I wanted to read as principal subject in this book or especially let it dictate the protagonist’s choices. It is rather implicit by moments and undeclared for the most part but the slow burn worked well. I could easily see the couple survive and have an HEA…which I hope they will indeed get, no matter how things turn out.

Another very significant theme is friendship, since Zoe, Tate’s cousin, is dear to her and she wants to protect her friend with all her strength. Zoe has also been admitted to the Guild (again, no idea why) and for both girls to survive in this ‘war’ – internal one mostly – it will take power of will and motivation and for their believes to not falter.

The writing style was far better than I was apprehending, having read some of my friend’s reviews. It worked for me really well. It wasn’t too heavy or including so much stuff that everything would have been hard to follow. Not at all. The story was clear – except for some questions I had on the test – and it’s genuinely easy to embark into the story.

Without a doubt, recommended for fans of simple yet complex plots and settings, dystopias with a darker atmosphere and subject, psychological aspects and love, friendship and family as values for a main character.

23 thoughts on “Review: Under My Skin (Immortality Strain #1) by Shawntelle Madison

  1. Under My Skin sounds amazing, Lola! I love dystopia / post-apocalyptic stories, and this one really does sound different. With both the way Tate wants to make a change, and the was the population at large think that the guild is something really good intrigues me quite a bit.
    Great review! I’m adding this to my TBR shelf 🙂
    I hope you’re having a great weekend, and that you’ll continue to pick up books you enjoy.


  2. I just read this too and I really enjoyed it. I feel the same way about the romance not taking the front seat in this.. but I did want it to have a little more page time. But more because I loved Quinn as a character! I need more Quinn! Heh heh.

    Great post! 😀


  3. Fabulous, a dystopian that has it’s priorities in order! I think the problem is that Dystoptians are over-saturating the market and they’re all so alike, love triangle and all. So this is like a shiny pokemon in the muddle of formulaic dystopians. I’m happy you enjoyed it, I prefer Character development over all and I’m very curious about these internal struggles that they have.

    I’ll have to check it out, thanks for the rec Lola!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre


  4. I’m trying to stay as far away possible from dystopian novels right now. I just feel there are too many and most of them aren’t very well executed to be honest. It’s true the cover looks gorgeous, even though most of the time I hate models/faces on the covers, and I’m glad you like this one. Maybe, someday, I’ll give dystopian books another chance and I’ll pick this one up =)


  5. The cover makes me think this isn’t for me, but you’re the second of my friends to like this book, so I might have to reconsider. Atmosphere is so important to a book! I like that the romance is slow and there isn’t much of it. Not at all how the blurb makes it sound.


  6. The cover of this book is beautiful. Kudos to the artist! You really made me want to read the book. I mean a dystopian book who is not quite like all the dystopian book in the market, how could I miss that?

    Amazing review!


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