Let me start by saying that I love Lights. I first saw her live by accident at the Warped Tour at St. Petersburg, Florida in 2009. Since then, I’ve seen her live each time she’s come to Glasgow. I love her music…yes, music. This author and illustrator of Skin & Earth is primarily a musician, and this graphic novel is directly linked to her album of the same name. Chapters in the graphic novel link to tracks on the album. It’s an amazingly unique concept and experience and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this!
I went in to this really wanting to love it, but I reminded myself of something I alluded to in my Turtles All The Way Down review – it’s wrong to like something just because it came from an idol. Judge everything on its own merits. So that’s what I did – I went into this unbiased and objective. And I still loved it!
Skin & Earth is a dystopian story revolving around our protagonist, En, as she discovers more about herself and her origins, as well as her future, in her less than perfect world. Themes include romance, cults, gods, mortals, love, adventure, conflict and self-discovery. That sounds like a lot to get into a 6 issue story right? Well the best thing is that it manages it, and leaves you wanting more in the best way possible. I’ll also say that I am so glad I had all 6 issues at once!
Skin & Earth is full of great world building. It’s relatable enough to be told via images and very little text, but it’s fantastical enough to be unique and different to capture the reader’s imaginations.
There’s also amazing character development. One of my favourites was Tsu. Each character was incredibly intriguing and I genuinely felt for them and wanted to know more.
The story is mature, but it’s not alienating to older teens. It’s also full of great twists and is so encapsulating. The story went somewhere I wasn’t sure it could pull me into or back from at one point – it went a bit too fantastically weird, BUT less than 5 pages alter I was fully back on board and loving the new direction! That rarely happens!
I’ve heard Skin & Earth be called a love story, and that does piss me off a bit. Yes, there’s a love element – but it’s so much more than that. It’s so much deeper.
The art can be a little rough in places, but it’s not distracting and it’s still astounding to me that this has all been done by one person!
I’m not sure about how well the idea of linking some lyrics from the album into the graphic novel went. Sometimes it felt like it fit rally well, and in others it felt a little forced. But I heard the album first and read the comic second, perhaps if it was the other way around I wouldn’t have noticed so much.
I highly recommend this for fans of Lights (obviously) as well as people who love to read about dystopia and gods and mortals. There’s also an LGBT flow to it, if that’s something you actively seek out in your reading material.
I will be re-reading this absolute gem several times. I simply loved it.