Sunday, April 18, 2010

Book Review Time Again!

  1. The Good Neighbors - Holly Black
    This is a graphic novel series, written by Holly Black and illustrated by Ted Naifeh. I've read the first two volumes "Kin" and "Kith". It's typical Black fare - gritty urban teen culture meets gothic faerie tale. And while I loved her "modern faerie tale" series, I'm not sure that I'm too crazy about this one. Especially with the second one, I found that the story seemed to move too fast. Events happened too quickly, and we aren't given enough time to get to know the characters, to really understand their motivations. And that makes the story feel kind of flat. Like all these things are happening to people that you don't really know or care about. So I'm kind of disappointed. But Black is a novelist, so maybe she's having trouble with the graphic novel format. I think they're well illustrated. The mood is sombre in black and white, and Naifeh's elves and humans are lithe and sharp-featured. But the story and characters need some work. Still, I'll probably read the next one in the hopes that they'll improve.

  2. Elske - Cynthia Voigt
    Voigt wrote four companion novels, all about a mythical place known as "the kingdom". They're a bit of a departure for Voigt who mostly writes realistic fiction. However, despite their made-up medieval setting, the books are still realistic in that there is no magic. I've read two of them, Jackaroo, which was pretty good, and now this one. And I really liked Elske. It follows a young girl who runs away from home and certain death. She journeys to another city where she struggles with learning a new culture and new language, and then ends up helping a Queen regain her throne from her despotic brother. It deals realistically and sympathetically with topics such as rape and infanticide, and Elske is a strong, likable character. Highly recommended.

  3. A Well-Timed Enchantment - Vivian Vande Velde
    This is Vande Velde's second novel, written quite a while ago, and I have to say I found it quite mediocre. Which is funny, because I really like her first book, A Hidden Magic (which is written for a younger, Gr. 3 - 5, audience). But this book, from its terribly punny title right down to the unlikely romance between the main character and her cat, felt a little cobbled together. A girl drops her mickey mouse watch down a wishing well where it goes through a portal to medieval France. Two elves send her and her cat (first transforming him into a human) to retrieve the watch before it alters history forever. Medieval France is not described in a way that seems very realistic or historically accurate. She meets up right away with a noble family who invite her and her friend/squire/page/brother (as she introduces her cat turned boy to them at various times) into their castle without blinking an eye. And her relationship with the cat is not developed very well either. They are supposed to be in love at the end, but I'm not sure when that was supposed to have happened. Anyway, I'm weeding it from our shelves, and I doubt it will be missed.


Ash said...

I love both Black and Naifeh - her for both the Tithe trilogy and Spiderwick and him for Courtney Crumrin - but I didn't like Kin either. I found it really hard to get attached to the characters. Have not yet tried Kith, so maybe it will grow on me.

Violette said...

Don't hold your breath. I found "Kith" even harder to get into than "Kin".