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Kin (The good neighbors, book 1) by Holly Black (text) & Ted Naifeh (art)
Graphix, 2008

Rue's mother has been missing for three weeks and her professor father is becoming increasingly distant. Rue is struggling to live a reasonably normal life - going to school, hanging out with her friends - and ignore the strange creatures she keeps seeing. When her father is accused of murdering a young woman, Rue tries to get to the bottom of what really happened to the young woman as well as her mother, and finds far more than she bargained for.

I've been a fan of Holly Black since reading both The Spiderwick Chronicles and Tithe a few years ago, and Kin certainly reinforced to me her interest in and ability to write about humans (and people who initially believe that they are human) encountering the faerie realm. I have to say that I enjoyed both Tithe and The Spiderwick Chronicles more, however, and I'm having trouble putting my finger on why.

Naifeh's art, for one thing, is stunning. The style of both the drawing and the characters is distinctive, and the atmosphere is dark yet not particularly ominous. Rue's expressions and body language are exquisite, both of which lent meaning to her words. I also enjoyed the use of different perspectives and panel layouts throughout the book, and I appreciated how items seen early in the story turned up in a more significant way later on.

The story is more ominous than the drawings, and there is a sense of everything being not quite as it seems from the very beginning. Rue's character was well developed but Rue's parents played very little role other than causing plotting to happen, and I didn't have a sense of them as personalities. It seemed that way with many of the characters, but I'm hesitant to jump to that conclusion seeing as this is the first book in a series. Nonetheless, it felt to me as if Rue was the only "real" character in the book.

To be clear, I don't dislike Kin: it's gorgeous to look at and I am curious to see what's in store for Rue. I will seek out the sequels in the hopes that I enjoy them more.

 


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