I just want to take a minute and appreciate the goodness that is Under My Skin.
Though my followers have seen me post extensively about it, I think it’s about time I give it a good old summary post for any of you that have no goddamn idea what I’m going on about.
Here is a summary of why you should read Under My Skin by Asynca.
(Link here - but don’t leave it too late! It won’t be up for free for too much longer!)
Introducing your protagonist and narrator: Min Lee.
Min lives in Sydney, Australia. She lives in a super expensive apartment, works for multimillion dollar company Frost International in marketing (and gets some very good pay), and has a wonderful boyfriend called Henry (whom you can see in the picture above sitting next to Min). Despite all that, she’s not a very happy person. This book is all about her figuring herself out.
"But Ken," I hear tumblr cry, "why do I want to read a book about how some person is sad about her life?"
Dear readers, I’ll give you a few good reasons why.
Reason 1) Gender Exploration
It may be a little spoilery, but our beloved Min here is actually unhappy about herself because she’s suffering from some major gender dysphoria. That’s right, tumblr! A genderqueer protagonist! Min discovers pretty early on in the novel that maybe the reason she’s so unhappy about her appearance isn’t because of her lack of femininity - the opposite, actually!
Have a sneak peak of her being much, much more comfortable doing what she does best alongside another major character, Bree Dejanovic.
Reason 2) Sexuality Exploration
There are gay characters. There’s an ace character. There are characters who identify as straight, but have some not-so-straight encounters (without any kind of ridicule). It explores some of the blurred definitions of sexuality that come hand in hand with someone whose gender isn’t stuck in the binary.
Reason 3) Realistic Non-White Characters
Are you sick PoC being used as trophies in media? Something along the lines of “Oh look, we have a non-white character, we’re so inclusive!”? Well, have yourself a break in UMS. Min and her boyfriend Henry are both Korean, and there’s no trope after trope… but race is still relevant. A lot of the relevance is subtle, but the subtleties count.
Also, racism is a thing that is addressed. It isn’t a major part of the book by any stretch of the imagination, but it is addressed.
Reason 4) Anxiety and Depression
Quite often, with gender issues comes with anxiety and depression. We see that she has issues with anxiety pretty early on - hates seeing herself in the mirror, constantly worried about other people’s opinions of her - all those sorts of things. Late in the book we discover that another character had been dealing with depression for a while, including the duration of the book… and it gives the reader a little insight that depression isn’t always obvious.
Reason 5) Abuse/bullying and its Effects
Workplace abuse, manipulation… they’re two of many different kinds of abuse that occur in this book, and it’s no light thing. The characters respond about as well as anyone in real life responds. It builds up, it causes Min to self medicate with red wine, it pushes her to breaking point while she has a lot of things going on at once. Feels like real life.
Reason 6) Grey characters
No, I don’t mean the Homestuck kind. I mean the moral kind of grey - no one in this book is completely good or completely bad. No one does anything for no good reason. Everyone has their own story for their actions - and not all of them are obvious. If you really want to understand the characters, you need to look a little deeper.
Now, this has the awesome side effect of making the characters very, very interesting. Take Bree for example. She’s exciteable. She’s eager. She’s really, really out there and does ridiculous things.. but she’s sweet as sugar and puts everyone ahead of herself.
Reason 7) And So Much More!
Look, I could go on and on about this book, I really could, but then what would be the point in letting you read it? Discover those grey characters! Join Min on her journey to discover who she is! Be angry at the characters, even the ones you love! Go forth and enjoy!
(Source - I don’t have a direct link to the image, so I’ve linked artist Yue-Li’s profile instead)
And thank you so much, Asynca, for giving us all this gorgeous novel.
And hey, if you’re already a fan… Give Asy some love! She deserves it!