Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review: Kith by Holly Black and Ted Naifeh

(Second Book in The Good Neighbors Trilogy, Sequel to Kin)
Genre: Graphic Novel, YA, urban fantasy
Pages: 128 (Hardcover)
Released: October 2009, by Graphix Scholastic
Overall Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Rue Silver's life is not what it appears to be. Her mother is a faerie, and has been taken back to the faerie realm. As Rue goes to bring her back, she must travel deep into an inhuman world. At the same time, the faerie realm is venturing into our world too, and taking its toll on those Rue loves. When her grandfather's plans threaten Rue's city, she realizes that she's the only one who can stop him. But is Rue a human or a faerie? Where does she fit? How does she know the difference between love and enchantment? 

Holly Black is one of my all-time favorite authors.  Every book she writes, every short story collection she edits, and, apparently, every graphic novel she collaborates on, is pure gold.  In many ways she has helped invent the urban-faerie-fantasy subgenre whose popularity has recently exploded. 
That said, I didn't enjoy Kith nearly as much as the first book in the trilogy, Kin.  The story unfolds with trademark Holly Black plot twists and rich backstory, held together by a likeable and flawed cast of teen characters.  But it's never the human characters who make this graphic novel series magical-- it's our Good Neighbors themselves, the faeries.  Ted Naifeh's panels bring Holly's story to life as magnificently as they did in Kin, illuminating the eerie and beautiful fey inhabitants of Rue Silver's world while letting the inky darkness creep away in the corners of the pages.  

It's very difficult to mention much about the plot without giving away spoilers from the first book, but I will say that secrets are revealed.  Backstories related.  Romances (unexpected and inevitable) both begun and painfully broken.  Readers get to see more of the twisting underground of the faerie's world and its diverse inhabitants.  And the novel ends with one shocking twist which left me starved for the sequel.  

Kith is definitely one of those graphic novels which lives up to the name graphic novel, considering it is aimed towards a teen audience.  Here we have a little nudity, and more than a little sex considering the book is extremely fast-paced and less than 200 pages to begin with.  It's nothing horrifyingly scandulous, per se, and I'm honestly not one to particularly care whether or not a book is squeaky clean of sex or profanity.  This one's probably not the right fit for a middle grade-reader, though, unless they're very mature.

The downside of these graphic novels is that they are sold at full hardcover price, but can easily be read in an hour or two at the most.  I picked up my copy at the library, since I couldn't seem to find it at either the indie bookstore where I bought Kin, or Barnes & Noble.  Still, I would read these books if only to gaze at the stunning two-page stretches of faerie gatherings and ordinary urban locations packed with partially hidden otherworldly inhabitants, but the story is definitely worth checking out.  I rate Kith 4 out of 5, mostly because the story did not progress as much as I'd hoped.  The third graphic novel in the Good Neighbors trilogy, Kind, was released only a few days ago, so that is yet another book for the mountainous TBR list. :)      

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