Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review of Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

"Skim" is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls' school in the early '90s. When her classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself — possibly because he's (maybe) gay — the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. It's a weird time to fall in love, but that's what happens to Skim when she starts meeting secretly with her neo-hippie English teacher, Ms. Archer. But then Ms. Archer abruptly leaves the school, and Skim has to cope with her confusion and isolation while her best friend, Lisa, tries to pull her into "real" life by setting up a hilarious double-date for the school's semi formal. Suicide, depression, love, homosexuality, crushes, cliques of popular, manipulative peers — the whole gamut of teen life is explored in this poignant glimpse into the heartache of being 16.

Even though the popularity of graphic novels is growing, I think it can be challenging to find really outstanding ones, so when someone in my book club recommended Skim with high praise, I was excited to read it. Skim was one of my fastest reads of 2011 and I enjoyed it while I was reading it. I think the authors handled issues of sexuality and suicide in a way that was well done and relatable, but this wasn’t a particularly memorable read for me.

I think part of my problem with Skim was the artwork. Of course, the drawings were good, and yes, they were infinitely better than anything I could ever create. Seriously, if I created a graphic novel it would be full of awful stick figures. However, none of the artwork really popped at me or struck me as especially creative like, say, the artwork in Anya’s Ghost.

For the most part, I liked the story. The emotions were genuine, and Skim’s character reminded me of real teenagers. The ending, however, felt like a bit wishy washy to me. It was just “meh.”

Overall, Skim is a fast-paced and enjoyable read. As someone who is currently studying to be a children’s and youth services, I will tell you that I would definitely purchase this book for a collection. It’s a graphic novel that deals with LGBT issues, and I don’t know of many other books like that, which is why I imagine that real teens might like this book better than myself. Skim isn’t a bad book, it just didn’t blow my mind the way some graphic novels have.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

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