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Review: Kith, Book 2 The Good Neighbors

Once you know something, things can never go back to what they were like before.  That’s how it is for Rue. She’s always known that she sees things differently, but she never knew why. But now she knows that her mother is a fairy. That her father won her mother from Rue’s grandfather.  He won her on one condition, that he remains faithful.

Kith: Book 2, the Good Neighbors

Written by Holly Black; art by Ted Naifeh

Publisher Recommendation Ages 12 & Up

My Age Recommendation Ages 15 & Up

October 2009, Scholastic, 978-0-439-85563-1

128 p., $16.99

But Rue’s dad wasn’t faithful. Now her mother is living among the faeries again, and Rue’s grandfather Aubrey is insisting that she come to live among them.  Aubrey has a plan. He is going to close off the city where Rue lives and it will be wiped off the map. Any human that approaches will be confused, and they will turn away.

Rue’s (human) friends are already acting out of whack. Ann has disappeared in the forest.  Rue believes she’s trapped in a tree. Keith is cheating on Ann.  Rue’s boyfriend Dale is acting strange.  It seems like Rue’s entire world is one huge mess.

It was interesting to (re)read this while I was also reading another one of Holly Black’s novels, Valiant (though she is probably better known for her work on the Spiderwick Chronicles).  It allowed me to see the similarities in the style of writing, even though one is a prose novel and the other a comic.  The overall tone of the books, dark and moody is what keeps this particular story moving.  While Book 1: Kin sets up the series, Book 2: Kith only nudges it along.  The plot gets stranger.  The mood is more sinister (thanks to Ted Naifeh’s art) and the plot and art are edgier.  (Keith is caught in a compromising position in the back of a van and Dale, Rue’s boyfriend, is caught by the lake while he’s being seduced by the faeries.)

We get more of a glimpse at the characters.  Rue is confused. Her father and mistress flawed. Aubrey is evil. Rue’s friends actually seem fairly typical, except their behavior is warped by fairies. But none of the characters are especially likeable, and I had a hard time rooting for Rue or her friends.

Ted Naifeh’s artwork, with the stark black & white drawings, is downright creepy!  Every few panels there are close-ups of a sneering fairy.  Nothing about the artwork adds cheer or hope to this gloomy story.  Yet, the artwork is quite masterful.

This series is for those who are fans of the author or the artist or fans of dark urban fairy tales.  Book 3 is due out in November.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright ©2009 Scholastic

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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