on 26 May 2010
I was really excited when I heard that Holly Black was going to be publishing a graphic novel series, however I was slightly disapointed with Kin. The illustration is really good and fits the story perfectly, its probably the best part, but the story itself isn't that vastly different from Black's earlier writing, Tithe especially- girl grows up able to see disturbing things, unaware that she is actually a faery. Nethertheless if you haven't read any of the Tithe books this probably wont bother you so much. Overall I'll give Kin the benefit of the doubt for being the first in the series and give 3 and a half star; hopefully in the next in the series we'll be in previously unexplored territory.
Thanks to the very lovely Sarah, fellow reviewer, writer and geek, I received a copy of Holly Black's graphic novel, Good Neighbours: Kin (book 1) recently.
So I set it aside for a while, devoured a few other things and subsequently read it in one fell swoop this morning during my commute into work.
I lurve this little book so much. It stands out - for me at least - because of it's artwork by Ted Naifeh. Some pages are illustrated to quite obviously show the fae in the mortal world, all around us. And then there are bits that are illustrated where the fae presence is only hinted at. It's subtle and lovely and wonderful and I'm a fan. I also liked the tiny sneak in of a box filled with items and ontop is a copy of The Spiderwick Chronicles. And I think I spotted Jay and Silent Bob lurking in the background too in one panel...but maybe that was just me being too observant.
Of course there is the story that forms the backbone of Good Neighbours. At the heart of it we have Rue trying to cope with her mum walking out / disappearing on them. Then her father's odd behaviour when she did: he's not gone to work and been sitting around in the house for days on end. So with her home not being somewhere she wants to be she prefers hanging out with her friends. But even then things aren't going well. There are glimpses of odd beings and creatures that do not belong to our world that haunt her days.
When it's revealed that a student of her father's, a professor of folklore, has been found murdered and Rue's father is the main suspect, her world is shaken. Further injury is added when the police extend their investigation to determine if her mom had left out of free will or if she had been murdered.
There are some twists and turns here and there but those who know Holly Black's writing and those of us who are fans of fairy tales will find a lot of familair threads within Kin, but I'd hasten to add that this does not detract from the story or from Ms. Black's storytelling. She is so comfortable in her narrative that it's palpable. Kin is a great addition to a library for any person who has an interest in the supernatural or the fae. I can't wait for Book 2 - Kith - to be in my grubby little paws.
Lavishly illustrated and well written, Good Neighbours: Kin, feels a bit like a trophy book to me. It's a very tactile bit of published niceness that I'm very pleased to have on my shelf, along with all my other Spiderwick books and posters.
Rue is trying not to worry. Her mother has disappeared after a terrible fight with her father. Right after her mother disappears, her father is arrested and accused of murdering one of the students he teaches at the University. Rue knows her father didn't do anything wrong, but doesn't know how to prove it.
To add to her stress, Rue starts seeing things. Things that shouldn't be possible in the real world. Things with wings. Things that look like faeries.
While Rue's father is in jail, she is taken to meet the grandfather she's never met - her mother's father. She finds out that her grandfather is one of the fey, and what he has planned for the world is a danger to all mankind. Rue is the only one who can stop him.
When Rue's mother makes a reappearance, she is extremely ill. Rue picks up some clues as to why her mother disappeared in the first place and puts others information together on her own.
In between looking for clues to the real story behind the girl her father is accused of killing, finding out about her mother, and coming to terms with her heritage, Rue is trying to maintain her life at school and with her friends.
KIN is the first volume in THE GOOD NEIGHBORS series. Holly Black wraps up this volume nicely while still leaving readers begging for more. Fans of Black's novels TITHE, VALIANT, and IRONSIDE will enjoy seeing the faeries come alive on the page of this graphic novel. Be looking for sequels in the near future.
Reviewed by: Karin Librarian
Holly Black tells creepy faerie tales. Ted Naifeh draws eerie stories about otherworldly creatures.
So unsurprisingly they mesh together well in "The Good Neighbors: Kin," the first part of a graphic novel series about a girl living half in faerie, half in our world. While the plot seems cliche at first, Black successfully throws some curve balls in the form of missing mothers, murders and a series of thoroughly creepy, inhuman faery creatures.
Ever since her spacey (read: faery) mother vanished, Rue has been seeing strange things -- elves, goblins, butterfly-winged faeries and other bizarre creatures. When her dad is arrested for the murder of a student, it forces Rue to find out what has happened to her mother, and to figure out exactly what kind of creature her mother really is.
Then her sinister maternal grandfather appears, demanding that Rue come to live with him -- and his servant Tam hints that Grandpa isn't planning on . Rue is forced to enlist her mortal friends in her hunt for some very nasty secrets: the student's death, the affair that drove her mother back into her own world -- and a terrible trick that is being played on her.
"The Good Neighbors: Kin" is apparently Holly Black's first stab at a graphic novel -- but you wouldn't know it. It's a very polished, lean story that successfully winds together several plot threads, and manages to throw some surprisingly twists. Some of the answers to these mysteries aren't what you'd initially expect -- and the people in them aren't always what they seem.
But Black also knows how to spin up an atmosphere of shadowy, slightly ominous otherworldliness -- moving vines, punky fairies, a few nasty geas, and some very gruesome old stories of murdered "changeling" women. At the same time, there's a beauty to many of Rue's experiences, such as when she unconsciously makes roses grow over herself, or remembers her mother's fey answers to basic questions.
And if you want to get all analytical, "Kin" handles the growing pains of an adolescent leaving innocence behind. Rue has to grapple with her faerie nature and how it may alienate her boyfriend, while she also tries to figure out what kind of world faerie is. And the mysterious Tam is a striking one: he's forced to obey whether he likes it or not, and there's a bit of a spark between him and Rue.
Ted Naifeh's artwork suits the storyline wonderfully -- dark, slightly jagged, and drawn with fluid realism. While it would be a bit better if it were colored, it adds to the poetry of Black's writing.
"Good Neighbors: Kin" is a solid start to Holly Black's graphic novel series, and though it ends on a cliffhanger, it promises to only get better.