Set in a future in which the boundaries between memory, dreams, and the digital world start to blur, this graphic novel introduces readers to Fin—an inventor who gets kicked off her society's all-encompassing network after inventing a powerful new program that may be implicated in people's disappearances and other unsavory developments.
This exquisite book...isn’t a very talky comic; its subject matter, which has to do with the dangers of the digital future, dictates that the dialogue is ever minimalist, Mill’s incandescent images doing all the work, and more, of words. Nevertheless, following the action requires serious concentration, and it may be that some readers will, as I did, struggle to follow the storyline. What precisely happens in its last pages? Even now, I’m not sure I’d be able to tell you. Perhaps, though, that’s half of the point. Mill, a professional illustrator, and Jones, an architect...are dealing in their book in confusion and half-truths, their landscape a desolate near future in which the boundaries between memory, dreams and data have begun dangerously to blur ... I’m not recommending Square Eyes for its dystopian plot, for all that it may scare you half to death should you think about it for too long. What truly sets this book apart is its extraordinary illustrations ... beautiful, teeming, phantasmagorical page ... It would be worth buying Square Eyes for her monochrome depictions of brutalist architecture alone, images in which she manages to make huge expanses of concrete seem both solidly cliff-like and unfathomably ghostly. So much sheer, bloody work has gone into this book, and in our instant culture, an environment it also happens to excoriate, it fairly takes the breath away.
[I]f a clearly delineated story is important to your reading experience, Square Eyes is not the book for you. The designer and illustrator Anna Mill and the architect Luke Jones have come up with a spiky tale set in a dystopian near-future ... Mill’s graphics, clearly influenced by manga, zoom in dizzyingly on details, then fling us into vast industrial landscapes. Augmented reality images bewilderingly overlay seamy real-life; dialogue is terse and full of invented jargon. This is not a book that you can race through and if you understand what happens at the end, you’re doing better than me—but it certainly is a wild ride.
Square Eyes comes at you in a disorienting rush. Tight, square, grey panels quickly give way to code-laden flow charts and images ... Mill’s artwork does a wonderful job of capturing the chaos, invention and decay of Fin’s nameless city ... There are regular shifts of perspective: we look through windows, into nooks and cupboards and past skyscrapers to a sky dotted with floating detritus as Fin struggles to get back online and remember what happened before her collapse. In some cases images sit on top of each other, and you’re forced to make sense of the overlaid scenes, while message updates burst forth like flowers from Fin’s hands. In a world where walls may not be literal, birds flock across panels and characters slip from sight to leave you staring at a blank page ... The plot is fairly thin and the baddies fail to capture the imagination, while other characters—including the enigmatic George and an enraged protester—are introduced but not really developed. But the joy of Square Eyes comes from its vision rather than its action or cast, and there is plenty of neat observation ... This immersive, inventive graphic novel offers its own brand of escapism, but anger bubbles beneath its beautifully rendered surface.