The Good Neighbors: Kith
by Holly Black & Ted Naifeh
Cover Artist: Ted Naifeh
Review by Gayle Surrette
GRAPHIX Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780439855631
Date: 01 October 2009 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Kith, the second book of The Good Neighbors series continues the story begun in Kin. Rue learned that she is half-human, half-faerie which explained a lot of what seemed weird to her, especially that she could see things that her friends could not. Her friends helped her deal with her father being arrested for the murder of her mother and many of the other revelations that came her way during Kin.
But now her friends are acting strange. They're drifting away not just from her but from all the people, goals, and things that were important to them before they knew about faerie. Her father is back, but he's not the same. Also, more and more, faerie seems to be encroaching on her suburban neighborhood. Everywhere she looks things are changing.
Rue feels things are spiraling out of control and she decides she must go into faerie and bring her mother back. She wants things back the way they were. But faerie is not what she thought.
Once again, it's an engrossing story from Holly Black. These faerie are not from children's books. They are darker and more dangerous. Those who go into faerie never come out the same as they went in. Being there can change the person you are to someone you may not like when you return. Think of all the older classic tales, of those who have visited faerie, and you'll see that something inside breaks or twists, and you never quite see things the same way again. Add teen angst, a desire to protect friends, family, and home into this mix and some powers from being half faerie and there's no predicting what will happen.
The artwork is superb. It matches the mood and the story line, and hits the reader on an emotional as well as visual level. Together, text and illustrations pull the reader in and keep them reading until the last page, where they find themselves dropped off a deep cliff and wondering what happened.
I don't know if there will be a third book in this series but I certainly hope so. While the two books work so well to tell the story, I'm concerned about Rue and where she ended up. I'm worried about her and her world. Part of good writing is making the reader care so much that they continue to wonder, worry, and think about the story and its characters long after they finish the last page. Black and Naefeh manage to do this admirably.
Beyond the story is the issue of who we are and what we become with power. I remember reading a quote by Abraham Lincoln a while back that said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." I couldn't help thinking of this quote while I was reading Kith and it still comes back to me when repaging through the story for the review.