Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com
PUCKER is, without a doubt, one of the best books I've ever read. And since I've read and reviewed over 250 books since August 2005 alone, I have a lot to compare it to!
The book is probably best described as a contemporary fantasy, but it's so much more than that. The story centers around Thomas Quicksilver, who at seventeen has spent most of his life with only his mother and a few close friends as acquaintances. Burned on the face as a young child, he's known as "Pucker" to his cruel classmates, and his only living relative is his mother, a woman who tells the future for her clients from her bed, where she spends all of her time. But what none of those clients, or his best friend, Patrick, knows, is that Thomas Quicksilver has more in his past than the trauma of a childhood accident.
For Thomas and his mother, Serena, were once Isaurians. They lived in a world where technological advances were not pursued, where every step of a person's life was foretold by the Seers. Not just cataclysmic events such as earthquakes or blizzards, but daily ones such as avoiding a street with a large pothole that could twist an ankle or what a family would have for dinner the following week. For Serena and her husband, William, the calm, patented life of Isaura wasn't enough--they longed for their only child, Thomas, to have a normal life, one filled with love, desire, regret, and the unknown. In return for their wayward thinking, Serena and William were stripped of their Seerskins, the outer layer of skin that allowed them to foretell the future. As William lay dead on the kitchen floor, Serena barely conscious, young Thomas was overwhelmed with grief--and accidentally allowed a fire to rage in their home, burning his face.
Exiled to Earth for their sins, Serena and Thomas began a new life, free from the safety and monotony of Isaura. But Serena, minus her Seerskin, discovers that she can still tell the future on Earth--and the gift, or curse, is much stronger than it ever was in Isaura. Her only hope to save her life, and her sanity, is for Thomas to return to Isaura for her Seerskin, which she hopes will dampen the ability to foretell the future on Earth.
For Thomas, this means entering his homeland as one of the Changed--humans with lives bad enough to be offered a chance of redemption in the land of Isaura. His only goal is to find his mother's Seerskin and return to Earth before she dies, but he's soon sidetracked by his new, healed face--and by the lovely Phaidra, a rebellious girl who knows there's more to the Changed than the Isaurians are letting on.
I know I've made PUCKER sound a lot more complicated than it really is. One of the reasons I enjoyed the book so much is that, although a fantasy, it's easy to follow along and relate to the characters. It is, basically, a story about love, about forgiveness, about identity and the desire to be loved for who and what you are. It is, in a word, simply amazing. Pick up a copy today, and I promise that you'll soon be as involved in the life of Thomas Quicksilver as I was; that you'll be wishing for a happy ending for this unbelievably courageous and brave young man.