If Lord Of The Flies, The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, and beloved children’s classic Knuffle Bunny were tossed in a literary blender, the result might read like TEDESKIMMA by 100 LICK. TEDESKIMMA is a dystopian parable set on a world called UWA, a three-sunned planet where people have gray skin (of varying shades), yellow eyes, and green blood. But perhaps the most startling characteristic of UWA is its resemblance to Trump America circa 2020. Frightening, indeed.
The SKIMMA (100 LICK chooses to ALL CAP the SKIMMA and other character names) is a plush toy, like a teddy bear, that passes through the hands of many owners. Similar to the way the Toy Story characters get “down-cycled” from single-owner loving homes to public daycare centers and eventually landfills, so too the SKIMMA falls into a downward social spiral. Our fuzzy confidant starts the novel as UNA’S SKIMMA, but soon becomes the companion of an underprivileged child, an emotionally tormented young lesbian, her gay brother who was abused by priests, and a young girl named DIIN, whose parents flee a troubled life of gangs and slums for a “land of opportunity.” Instead they find abusive border guards and an apathetic bureaucracy that tears their family apart.
SKIMMA lives in a violent world of food shortages, overpopulation, and intolerance toward immigrants, the poor, gays, and transsexuals. SKIMMA experiences the grim underbelly of a left-wing fever dream— a political allegory that extrapolates Trump-era policies into a full-fledged nightmare. Asylum seekers driven away at the border. Families separated by border guards. Children locked in cages. TEDESKIMMA’s progressive liberal agenda is so thinly veiled, it’s practically propaganda.
Allegory is a powerful literary tool (see Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, or George Orwell’s Animal Farm) when connections are clear but not obvious. TEDESKIMMA stumbles when characters launch into lengthy political and philosophical diatribes disguised as dialogue. 100 LICK often uses three sentences when one would suffice, and employs a passive narrative voice that distances the reader. TEDESKIMMA is a good novel that could have been a great novella with tighter editing.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of TEDESKIMMA is trying to figure out what kind of creature the SKIMMA is. It’s a “real creature” that lives in far north UWA. It walks on two legs as well as four, and has large horns on its head. What is SKIMMA? A hybrid moose/polar bear? A magical unicorn? While most of the characters and creatures in TEDESKIMMA have easily identifiable parallels on modern-day Earth, the SKIMMA does not…and the mystery makes it all the more enticing.
A lost children’s toy (the SKIMMA) passes from owner-to-owner on a dystopian parallel Earth in TEDESKIMMA, an intriguing and enjoyable (though overly verbose) mediation on politics and humanity, narrated by members of an alien race. Author 100 LICK’s prose style is unique, though sometimes repetitive.
~Rob Errera for IndieReader