Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Good Neighbors

The Good Neighbors, book one: Kin - Holly Black & Ted Naifeh (Graphix, $16.95) - This is another book put out by the Scholastic imprint Graphix. I would say that this book falls into the Teen and up category. It is written by Holly Black, Author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, and is her first foray into Graphic Novels. Ted Naifeh, who has given us the Courtney Crumrin books, as well as Polly and the Pirates, provides the excellent art for this book. I am quite a fan of Naifeh's work, and have loved everything of his I have read.

The combination of Black & Naifeh works amazingly well. This book could easily be an extension of the world of Courtney Crumrin. Hopefully anyone reading that understands that it is high praise. It is more than just the art that gives that feeling. Black seems to have similar sensibilities in her writing to Naifeh, which I think gives his illustration even greater impact.

The story centers on Rue Silver, a cool teen with cool friends that break into abandoned buildings, don masks and take pictures. That isn't a huge part of the story, but it's part of the story, and makes me smile in it's similarity to the art attacks in the P.L.A.I.N. Janes. There is no negative there, but it is similar. Rue's Mom is gone, and in short order her dad is suspected of murdering her Mother, as well as a female student from the University he is a professor at.

There is a lot here, which is a very good thing to say about something billed as book one. We have Rue's discovery that Faerie (the titular 'Good Neighbors') exist, and that she is one by way of her mother. There is her ordinary world love life and friends, as well as the introduction of her Grandfather on her Mother's side and his less than noble intentions. Her father also hangs out there in the balance, having been a wreck since his wife left.

There are a ton of options open here. Her Grandfather has heard that only someone of his blood can stop him, he assumes this is Rue. He is planning to return faerie to the old days when humans lived in fear of them. There is a human student at her father's school that has been taking sinister advantage of a brother and sister faerie who will need to be dealt with. There is the mystery of the straw 'changeling' that was sent to masquerade and die in the form of her mother. There is a whole layer in Rue's world that was previously unseen.

Naifeh seems uniquely qualified to draw faerie and similar creatures. His Faerie have a great beauty too them, but also such an 'other-ness' about them as to seem wild and dangerous and even scary. It is the perfect scary-beautiful, or ugly-beautiful.

This is a really good book. I borrowed it from my awesome public library, but I am certainly looking forward to more in the series, and plan to buy the books for myself.

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