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3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  704 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
As a sculptor of metal, Tess is consumed with the perfection of welds, the drip of liquid metal, addicted to the burn. Her solitary existence ends when she meets Bibi. A self-proclaimed "guerilla performance artist," Bibi pushes her body to the utmost in her dancing, sculpting it into a finely tuned machine. But the limits of her body frustrate her. With Tess, she creates ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 1st 1994 by Dell (first published January 1st 1993)
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Posted at Shelf Inflicted

After a second read, this book is still disturbing. The unusual prose style and choppy sentences may be irritating for some readers, but I found the writing very stylish, poetic, and sensual, evoking images and sensation, vividly portraying Tess' emotional pain, burning like the metal she controls and shapes to her will, and her friend, partner, lover, Bibi's gradual descent into madness.

Skin is very different from other horror books -- no creepy, supernatural happening
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
I read this last year, but I want to re-read this before I give my official opinion on it. It was an odd book that I enjoyed.

I think the difference between last year and this year is that I "get" this novel better than last year. Definitely a good read in my opinion. Definitely not a book that all will enjoy.

ETA: 1/15/15

That above review was written in 2011. My computer crashed but at the same time saved my old review with the date of this ETA and my new rating. I bumped up this review from 4 st
Jun 17, 2015 Jill rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jill by: Ulla von Ja
Shelves: heartstopping
"What did you think?" Goodreads asks.

I don't fucking know what I thought.
What the hell do you think when you read something like this? I had the 'uncorrected proof' with no summary so I didn't have any idea, going in, what was coming. Do it that way too, if you can.

My thoughts are rampant.

In these pages there is a lot; too much. Blood. Plays between life and machine; art and isolation; creativity and passion; what matters at the end of it. It is one of the most gorgeous books I have ever, ever r
Aug 22, 2008 Dfordoom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror-gothic
If you really want to find a writer who provokes extreme reactions in people you can’t go past Kathe Koja. Her very poetic, somewhat experimental and heavily descriptive prose style bewilders some readers, and incites others to anger. Personally I adore her style. The content of Skin is as edgy as the style. It’s about Tess, an artist who works in metal producing huge mobile sculptures. She finds herself drawn into a collaboration with Bibi. Bibi uses her own body for her artworks, specialising ...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
May 06, 2012 Charles Dee Mitchell rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
Skin is on the Horror Writers' Association list of the "bests" of the genre, this despite it total lack of the supernatural or any traditional horror trappings. Koja's first novel, Cipher, involved the discovery of a sort of black hole in the storage area of a rundown apartment building and would seem a more likely candidate for the HWA's list. Locus, the sf and fantasy critical journal, lists Skin as an "associational horror" novel, a term I've read nowhere else but I think I get what they mean ...more
Apr 16, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
How far would you be willing to go to change?

This is a very style-heavy book. If you have a problem with books like that, you should steer clear.

If you don't, expect a manic, tense narrative that's marketed as horror but could in truth be called "true-life tales of the underground scene". I've met people who could be the characters in this book - any of them. That in itself made the story more plausible for me. At times the main characters (Tess and Bibi) were being (for lack of a better term) r
Jan 29, 2014 Elizabeth rated it did not like it
Shelves: lgbtq
Why? Just, why?

I'm sure there are people who think you just need to "get" this book in order to enjoy it, but honestly, there isn't much to be gotten. There's nothing disturbing or shocking in here that hasn't already been done -- before or after. I've read books a dozen times more shocking and disturbing and wholly unsettling, and in ones that used a lot fewer standard body-horror scenes and radical ideas to get the point across.

There's nothing in here all that thought-provoking. And the charac
Jan 02, 2014 Erin rated it liked it
There are some things, for example, the entire Duggar family, which both fascinate me and skeeve me out at the same time. Extreme body modification (Koja counts seven categories - contortion, constriction, deprivation, encumberments, penetration, fire and suspension) is one of those things (so would my nirvana be a documentary where the Duggars undergo various types of modification?). So, the description of this book as a mesh of exploration of art and love through the lens of body modification ...more
Nicolle Cornute-Sutton
May 08, 2008 Nicolle Cornute-Sutton rated it really liked it
A strange and compelling novel. I didn't like any of the main characters but I came to care for them and dreaded the inevitable horror awaiting them at the story's end.

The protagonists are Tess, a tremendously driven sculptress and Bibi, her other half, whose medium is flesh and blood. For a brief time, Tess and Bibi work together, melding their unique media into intense, often dangerous, performance art pieces but soon, their collaboration isn't enough for Bibi. She wants to transcend the confi
Tonya Taylor
Aug 11, 2008 Tonya Taylor rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing. Dark, disturbing and full of blood.:) I just read this AGAIN. I think I've read it 4 times now? Can't be sure. I keep losing my copy so I just bought another. Out of Print but worth the read. You feel overwhelmed and drowned in the midst of this book. You know it can't end well but you have to see it thru.
Mar 27, 2017 Wendy rated it it was amazing
Wow! This book is disturbing! It's also really, really good! Tess is an artist consumed with creating perfection , and when she meets Bibi, who has drives of her own, they find themselves on a slippery path towards madness and tortured pleasure. Darkly engrossing!
Bentley ★
Mar 14, 2015 Bentley ★ rated it really liked it
Tess Bajac is used to a solitary existence. She is haunted by her past heartbreaks and has become entranced instead by the burn of flame and the drip of liquid metal that her work as a modern sculptor provides. Bibi is Tess's equal counterpart. Whereas Tess is metal and flame, Bibi is flesh and cold stone. A guerilla performance artist, Bibi has always pushed herself and her body to its limits in order to pursue her own art. With Tess, she develops a unique and twisted new performance art which ...more
Feb 19, 2014 Brittany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: intelligasmic
"We never know what is enough."-William Blake

I'd like to begin by stating that I salivate over Kathe Koja's writing. Her poetic stimulant is my own heartbeat, really; she is an incredible inspiration for my own writing.

Her novel, "Skin" is a work of traitor pace--against human passion and fairness, yet beautiful all the same. It is seemingly, a Shakespearean sub-genre of gaps and dark misunderstandings; like "Romeo and Juliet," only something you won't want to be a part of, because the love her
Sarah Beaudette
May 11, 2016 Sarah Beaudette rated it really liked it
This cover is terrible; it doesn't do any justice to Koja's stunning book. I was looking for non-mainstream horror, and someone recommended Skin. Skin is wonderful, but it's not horror.

It's dark and obsessive, its prose as glittery and sharp as the glass shards, fish hooks, and machine guts that concern the artists around which it centers, and yes, it is about the dissolution of a person and of a relationship into unsalvageable, destructive depths, but it's not horror. It's a meditation: on art,
Oct 26, 2014 Melissa rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 15, 2011 Victoria rated it liked it
Shelves: 1990s
Im not sure what it was about this novel that made me give it a semi low score. Im just going to put that star directly in the middle.
I got halfway thru, and then reached a limit where I said, I can not continue down this path because of the writing style. I then began skimming thru chapters and thoroughly read the end.
It was way too erratic and DRAGGGGGED. At some points I enjoyed it for being artistic and unique, but I then became irritated and wanted the author to just please, for the love
May 24, 2014 David rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror
So you know how the art world suffers from this reputation of people being overly pretentious and taking shit too far in the name of art? That is pretty much this book.

It aims to dive into the disturbing with self mutilation and body modifications, but that gets quickly overshadowed by jealous and warring art factions fighting for relevance and choosing art over personal relationships.

At one point this might have been edgy, but I mostly found it dull and perhaps a little guilty of some of the sa
Oct 23, 2007 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: litwithatwist
In my opinion this is Koja's second best book (the first being the Cipher). It involves Tess, a metal sculptor, and Bibi, a performance artist - there is to me a poetry of steel and grit that Koja absolutely excels at, which is proven here. It also involves obsession, another habitual Koja theme. To me the last fourth or so of the book is not as satisfying as the rest, which is too bad - but it's still worth reading.
Jan 05, 2011 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Another story of art and obsession. A pretty good read, but it never approaches the psychological darkness of her first two novels.
May 29, 2009 Velvetink rated it it was amazing
*note to self.copy from Al.
Rachel Dahl
Mar 14, 2016 Rachel Dahl rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
- DNF -

This tried really hard to be one of those books "from the perspective of a troubled person, about a group of troubled people trying to understand themselves and each other" - at least from what I could understand of it.
From the description and the reviews, I was hoping for a darker look into the psyche of a troubled artist, hopefully some kind of revelation about spirituality or the human condition. And while those things may have been present, they were hidden under too much unnavigabl
Robb Bridson
Oct 11, 2013 Robb Bridson rated it did not like it
I couldn't make it very far into this one, so I'm not really able to comment on the story. For me, the style was just a little too irritating. I'm not a big poetry guy, and I can't really get into this sort of artsy, non-sentence structure, and, as such, I can't get past it into the story itself.
If you are more into experimental writing or whatever this is, you might want to give it a chance, as it sounds like an interesting story. But if you're more like me and prefer to stick to traditional pr
Nov 16, 2016 Miuzy rated it really liked it
As some other reviewers have stated, Koja's writing style does command your full attention but it isn't hard to get sucked right into Skin. Electrifying, unapologetic, magnetic & gripping prose. The story shows how complex humans can be and how disturbing or dangerous obsessions can be.
I wouldn't exactly call this book a page-turner - more like you'd most likely need to stop to take a breather every now and then - but it lingers your mind and makes you itch to go back to find out what it's r
Apr 17, 2014 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Kathe Koja has been a favorite author of mine for awhile but I never got to read Skin. It recently got put up in kindle format, so I got it.

Her writing is a bit flowery and poetic but the story is grotesque and heartbreaking and wonderful.

Not a horror story, in the strictest sense but still disturbing.
Chad Perrin
May 12, 2013 Chad Perrin rated it really liked it
While it was not quite as amazing as Kathe Koja's novel Strange Angels, I think no other book could ever quite match that experience, and the excellence of Koja's craft is still strikingly evident in this book.
Nov 06, 2014 Jeff rated it it was amazing
April 1994 Horror fiction was the topic of my book club and Skin by Kathe Koja was my pick. An intricate look at body modification.
3 1/2 trending towards 4 because this book is just so damn compelling and compulsively readable despite it's flaws. My first book by Koja-most definitely not my last.

Longer review may follow.
Emily Farquharson-Hall
"Children were children and work was work and people were assholes when they start believing their own arty bullshit"
Well that was disturbing. But neat too.
Dec 29, 2012 a. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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Kathe Koja (born 1960) is an American writer. She was initially known for her intense speculative fiction for adults, but over the past few years has turned to writing young adult novels.

Koja is also a prolific author of short stories, including many in collaboration with Barry N. Malzberg. Most of her short fiction remains uncollected. Koja's novels and short stories frequently concern characters
More about Kathe Koja...

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“To work and work and never mind why; if you kept looking for the why behind everything you might never work again, you might never bother to breathe again.” 27 likes
“and wasn’t rust growth, of a kind? the growth of decay? If you don’t grow, you die;” 1 likes
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