Module 13: The Good Neighbors

 good neighbors

Black, H. (2008). The Good Neighbors. New York: Graphix

Summary

Rue’s mother is gone following a fight with her father. Her father has fallen into depression and is not going to work. Rue is going through the motions while trying to ignore the weird things she is seeing when her father is accused of murder. As Rue dives into the mystery, tries to find her mother, and prove her father’s innocence she uncovered a world for which she never knew she belongs to. The world of Faeries. Though she now understands her powers, she must decide if she wants to be in the faerie world and debate her obligations to her mother, to her grandfather, and to her father. She goes on an adventure to find the answers and determine who she is.

Impressions

While reading this book, I found that I had trouble understanding the plot line. Rue’s character begins seeing weird things that aren’t explained in the beginning. She has powers she is not certain of but the illustrations left me questioning what they were. The story line jumps around and I find it hard to follow. While I am a fan of Holly Black and Graphic Novels, this book was a tremendous challenge for me and I am still not sure if I know what was going on fully. This book demands you spend time analyzing the artwork. The artwork in this book also left something to be desired as I had trouble placing the secondary characters. Overall, I think readers who love graphic novels and love paranormal will like this book. Its dark, its creepy, and it goes by fast but I would not recommend this book to anyone on the fence about graphic novels. It does take some considerable studying to place the characters, scenes, and plots.

Professional Reviews

Rue Silver’s everyday life with her professor father and ethereal mother comes crashing to a surreal end when her mother one day simply disappears. As Rue starts noticing oddities in her little town—people with wings or animal faces, or vines that seem to sprout up over everything at night—she tries to tell herself that such things would be crazy. When her extended family appear and claim that she is part of a hidden faerie world, Rue finds herself embroiled in a magical fight for power. The first volume in a series, this book goes a long way in setting up a foreboding, darkly mysterious atmosphere while giving the reader quick details for characterization. Black, one of the authors of the Spiderwick Chronicles, does a wonderful job of weaving an alien faerie world through Rue’s urban landscape, and Naifeh’s art, rich with shadows, is expressive and angular and pulls the reader into the story with a solid sense of place. Urban-fantasy readers of Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lindt, and Terri Windling will be immediate fans of this title.

 

Coleman, T. (2008). [Review of The Good Neighbors]. Booklists. Retrieved from: http://booklistonline.com/The-Good-Neighbors-Kin-Holly-Black/pid=2892196

 

Rue Silver’s life is about to be turned upside down. Already, her mother has disappeared after having a loud argument with her father. Even worse, she’s now beginning to see things — frightening things, like people with horns and wings that no one else notices. What’s worse, the things she sees are looking back at her.

Matters quickly get worse from there. Police are already curious about her mother’s disappearance, but when one of her father’s college students is found murdered after visiting his office, they arrest him. Armed with a determination to uncover the truth, Rue begins investigating the case on her own. What she finds brings her deeper into a fantasy world she knows precious little about, a world she’s a part of whether she likes it or not: the dark and dangerous realm of the faeries. Sometimes known as “the fair folk,” they have some very sinister plans afoot. Rue gets a taste of those plans when she meets the grandfather she never knew. He wants her to come live with him, but Rue is rightfully afraid.

Holly Black has proven she knows her way around this territory, most notably in The Spiderwick Chronicles, but also in the faerie-themed books TITHE, VALIANT and IRONSIDE. This is her first time writing about the faerie world in graphic novel form, though, and for this foray in the medium, she has been paired with a perfect partner in the form of artist Ted Naifeh, himself no stranger to the otherworldly. His Courtney Crumrin series is a top-notch mixture of fantasy and spine-tingling fiction. Here, he nicely gives his artwork a solidly human perspective shaded with dark overtones. He evokes fear and wonder at the same time, and the flow of his panels has a cinematic quality that pair gracefully with Black’s lean prose.

As an introduction to this new series, KIN kicks things off with a bang. It nicely sets the stage for a portentous battle between evil forces and the good people who will try to stop them. The murder mystery at the heart of this story is perhaps too quickly and easily dispatched, but it clears the way for the far more interesting storyline of Rue’s self-discovery. Rue is refreshingly unique, a bright character (it’s nice to see a teenage protagonist who doesn’t have to speak with razor-sharp wit all the time) with a genuine curiosity about life. She’s smart and determined without being affected, a nice touch.

The Good Neighbors shows great promise as a series. It targets an audience 12 and older with a story that effortlessly glides between thriller and mystery. Equally impressive is its fine pacing; it’s a book to savor at leisure and the plot doesn’t feel the need to rush. Still, that kind of pacing can have a dark side, as evidenced by the publishing schedule for future books in the series. The second and third installments are projected to be published in 2009 and 2010, respectively, a long wait for readers anxious to find out what will become of the enchanting Rue Silver.

Hogan, J. (2008). The good neighbors, book one: kin. Teen Reads. Retrieved from: http://www.teenreads.com/reviews/the-good-neighbors-book-one-kin

Library Uses

I would love to use this and other graphic novel books to do a workshop on graphic novels with teens. We could map out the story arc of the book and how it was condensed into a short and graphic work of art. Then the group could create an original story arc or take another novel and work on illustrations, practice with expression, and develop an understanding for adding context to the illustrations.

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