Review: Skim by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki

When I started down the wonderful path that is reading graphic novels last year, This One Summer by Mariko & Jillian Tamaki was one of the first works I checked out. So to have now finally read through Skim from cover to cover is beyond gratifying for me.

“Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls’ school. When Skim’s classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. As concerned guidance counselors provide lectures on the “cycle of grief,” and the popular clique starts a new club (Girls Celebrate Life!) to bolster school spirit, Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression.

And falling in love only makes things worse…

Suicide, depression, love, being gay or not, crushes, cliques, and finding a way to be your own fully human self–are all explored in this brilliant collaboration by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. An edgy, keenly observed and poignant glimpse into the heartache of being young.Skim 1-- bookspoilsSide note: I love it when the blurb really gets the core of the book right.

Skim‘s quick glimpse into an angst-ridden, strong-willed and intense young adult made me reminisce and feel grateful for making it through those years unscathed. But I also feel like the main themes that are prevalent in Skim, like the ever-present arc of mortality that’s circling the girls at school, were (somewhat fittingly) skimmed over. I didn’t feel like I had a solid grip on what the creators were trying to convey.

So I was disappointed that this graphic novel didn’t manage to leave a lasting impression, or hit any particular right notes for me, save for a page here and there. I didn’t feel invested because, as I mentioned, the topics that intrigued me the most, such as girlhood, coming-of-age, and depression weren’t explored to the fullest; we remained on the surface of things without budging.

Though I was left me unmoved for the most, I’ll end my review on a brighter note by sharing some of the pages that managed to spark something inside me:
Skim 2-- bookspoils

Skim 3-- bookspoils

Skim 4-- bookspoils

Skim 5-- bookspoils

Skim 6-- bookspoils

bookspoilsbookspoilsbookspoils

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Skim, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: Thornhill by Pam Smy

“We are the voiceless ones.”

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines—Mary’s through intimate diary entries and Ella’s in bold, striking art—Pam Smy’s Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.

This tale set in alternate times, one told in words and the other in drawings, sounded right up my alley when I discovered it back in May. In particular because it reminded me a lot of  Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck, which had a similar format of storytelling that I loved. Unlike that one, though, Thornhill is a creepy and disquieting ghost story. That is to say: I was racing to finish reading it before sunset because I’m not about to be scared out of leaving my bedroom… again, since ghosts are one of my greatest fears, thanks to watching the horrendous film called The Sixth Sense at night when I was just eight years old. (I thought at the time that I was brave and cool and that it wouldn’t be as eerie as the blurb made it seem.) (Oh, how wrong I was.)

“I like the noise of being surrounded by a group. It’s as though there are little stories whizzing around—dreams of pop groups and boyfriends, gossip about eyeliner and shoes and teachers. I don’t have to join in, but still I feel part of their gang—on the edges looking in, watching, listening, but happy to be included.”

Circling back to the book, a pleasant surprise came to me with the drawings, which wasn’t what I expected in terms of style before reading. I feel like ages have passed since I last sat down and enjoyed a proper book. But I was a bit disheartened to see that the art was on the lower side compared to the prose. Overtime, I actually came to look forward most to what the story would convey through these black and white drawings.

Thornhill 1-- bookspoilsThornhill 2-- bookspoils

Thornhill 3-- bookspoils

Thornhill 4-- bookspoils

Thornhill 5-- bookspoils

Thornhill 6-- bookspoils

Thornhill 7-- bookspoils

But for now I’m definitely on the lookout for a more lighthearted read after the eeriness left by Thornhill. I mean, that ending surely raised the hair on the back of my neck. Shudders.

3/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Thornhill, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!