Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

Posted February 10, 2014 by LeahAdmin in Reviews / 18 Comments

Book Review: The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
Published by Little Brown on Oct. 3, 2013
Pages: 176
Genres: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

I’m declaring 2014 the Year of Reading Widely. As I wrote in my Reading Resolutions post, I’m making an effort to read more diversely — reading genres outside my comfort zone, translated works, and books by authors who aren’t white. I’ve been doing pretty well so far! I’ve read a few books by authors of color, and I got three more from the library this week. I also read my first romance novel, and I just finished my first graphic novel!

I bought a copy of The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg after reading River City Reading’s review. I’ve never been interested in graphic novels because I associated them with comic books, so I was really interested to read Shannon’s review of this book. The Bookrageous Podcast has also made me interested in the form recently. To top it off, this month is Graphic Novels/Comics February! It seemed like the perfect opportunity to try reading something outside of my comfort zone.

Millions of years ago, in a time known as Early Earth, a Nord man and a South Pole woman meet. They fall in love and are married, but a mysterious magnetic force prevents them from touching. The man, a storyteller, tells the story of how they came to meet, weaving in tales of the gods who played a part in both their meeting and their separation. Many of these stories are familiar, clearly drawn from mythology and religious traditions. Greenberg deftly blends these myths into a cohesive folklore, tossing in a dash of humor. My boyfriend was in the same room as me when I was reading this book, and I couldn’t stop myself from reading funny lines to him every few minutes.

I love mythology, so I was immediately smitten with the concept of this book. However, it was the art that made me fall hardcore in love with The Encyclopedia of Early Earth. The book is gorgeous. It’s the size of a coffee table book, and the cover has beautiful effects; those grey line drawings you see in the cover image above? On the actual book, they are glossy black, standing out from the matte cover as it catches the light. The inside is just as beautiful; the illustrations are done in a great style that fits really well with the Nordic/Inuit setting. I loved the heavy black lines and painterly touches of color.

I am really happy I chose this as my first graphic novel! I loved this book; I accidentally read the whole thing in one evening! I’ve been  crushing hard on the art, and the writing made me laugh out loud dozens of times. I was also pleased by this novel’s literary qualities! I’m glad to have found another genre of books that I enjoy, and I’m looking forward to reading more! Maus and Persepolis are next on my graphic novel list.

Readers, what graphic novels would you recommend to someone new to the genre?

  • I’m looking forward to reading this one as well. And I know i have to read Maus. It’s embarrassing that i haven’t read it already. Persepolis is great too.

    • I hope you enjoy it! And don’t feel embarrassed about not having read Maus yet; there are far too many books in the world. I’m glad to hear you liked Persepolis! I can’t wait to read it.

      • There are far too many books in the world. Those are words that keep me up at night. I will never read everything I want to read. It’s a rather sobering thought.

  • I’ve never read a graphic novel, but this sounds like a really good one to test out the genre — thanks for sharing 🙂

    • It’s so pretty and fun!

  • This one sounds so lovely. I can’t wait to read it!

  • My entire response to this is yay!

    Yay for reading your first graphic novel!

    Yay for enjoying it!

    Yay for showing me the one I should pick up next!

    Yay for deciding on Maus & Persepolis next! 😀

    • I second all of your Yays!

  • I’m so glad to see you liked it, it’s such a gorgeous, gorgeous book! I just finished Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and really enjoyed it. Blankets by Craig Thompson is another one of my favorite graphic novels, too.

  • Jie Yi See

    Hey Leah, you should try Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It’s a lovely autobiography graphic novel series and you can read my review here: http://seejy.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/book-review-persepolis-pics/

    • It’s next on my list!

  • Isi

    I’ve recently read my first comic too, and I loved it!! I will review it soon, but I can tell you is titled “Dubliner”, and it’s a biography about James Joyce 🙂 (written by a Spanish author, by the way).
    I’m also planning to read Maus (I won it in a giveaway in January) and I have Persepolis at home.
    I didn’t know this one, but looks great, so I’ll add it to my list, now that I like comics (I’ve only read one, but…. hehehe).

    • Ooh, Dubliner sounds really interesting!

  • Wow! It’s fantastic that you’re doing so well at reading more broadly! That’s one of my goals for this year too, but so far I’ve not been doing as good of a job. Too many review copies dictating what I read so far! I also love mythology so this sounds fascinating 🙂

    • I hear ya; with review copies coming in and trying to read outside my comfort zone, I haven’t been making any progress on my TBR pile!

  • Your review prompted me to add this to my request list. I highly recommend Persepolis as well. Graphic novels are wonderful. But once you get into them, you want to read ALL the graphic novels. 🙂

  • Just looked up the art and it’s so beautiful! I definitely need to check this out. If you’re willing to go further out of your comfort zone (if you haven’t read it yet), you should check out Watchmen. I was nervous about it, because I’m not THAT into superheros. But it was so good. Really powerful stuff and interesting to read.

    • I’ll keep that in mind!