Friday, November 21, 2008

Kin by Holly Black

Title: Kin
Author: Holly Black
Illustrator: Ted Naifeh
Publisher: Graphix
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Graphic Novel, 144 pages
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: The Good Neighbors (Book 1)

Although I do not normally read graphic novels I won a copy of Holly Black's Kin as part of my prize package from a contest on Brooke Taylor's blog. I'm so glad Brooke introduced me to this graphic novel because I probably wouldn't have found it any other way.

Rue Silver's mother has disappeared and when a student at the local college is murdered Rue's father becomes a suspect in both cases. As Rue struggles with her mother's disappearance and wonders whether her father was involved, she begins to see things in a new way. People and places look different as she sees what is truly there and not the normal images that the faeries want the humans to see. In order to save her mother, Rue must unravel family secrets and discover her true heritage.

Holly Black does an amazing job at writing very sparse narrative that conveys a complex story. Rectangular text boxes let the reader in on Rue's thoughts while conversations take place in the conventional word bubbles. The characters' motivations are complicated and Black reveals the drive behind the characters' actions with a measured pace that fits well with Rue's investigation.

The black and white illustrations by Ted Naifeh fit Black's dark story perfectly. Each frame fits with the mood of the characters and shadows are used heavily to convey the unknowing. The characters are often sharp lines and angles with heavy facial expression.

The narrative and illustration work well together in expressing the depth of Rue's emotions as she struggles with so much uncertainty.

Kin is the first book in The Good Neighbors series and I can't wait to read the rest and find out how Rue handles her new knowledge and what happens to her mother. The second book is scheduled for release in 2009 and the third in 2010.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chainfire by Terry Goodkind

Title: Chainfire
Author: Terry Goodkind
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover, 672 pages
Age Group: Adult
Series: The Sword of Truth (Book 9), Chainfire Trilogy (Book 1)
Related Television Show: Legend of the Seeker (The CW)

Chainfire is the ninth book in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series and the first book in the Chainfire Trilogy. At first, I was confused about why a book would be considered a part of two series but after reading it I completely understand.

The Sword of Truth series follows Richard as he learns about his family history, his destiny, and his role as the Seeker of Truth while fighting epic battles along the way. He is joined in his adventures by Kahlan, who is the Mother Confessor, his grandfather Zedd, various Mord-Sith, and Sisters of both Light and Dark. The initial books detail the battle against Darken Rahl as he attempts to extend his cruel rule. However, there is an even larger threat to the people coming from the Old World. As the new leader of D'Hara, Richard must find a way to defeat the Imperial Order. Each book in The Sword of Truth series reveals another obstacle that must be overcome as a part of the overall battle for the people's freedom.

Chainfire begins with Richard fighting for his life after being wounded in a battle he doesn't even remember. When he wakes from unconsciousness, he discovers that Kahlan, his wife, is missing. However, the worst part is that his companions do not remember that she even exists. They insist that he does not have a wife and that all the Confessors were killed in the initial battle with Darken Rahl. Richard insists that Kahlan is real and that he must rescue her from who or whatever wounded him and captured her. Cara and Nicci begin to fear for Richard's sanity and wonder if the injuries he sustained have altered his memories. As I read the book, I felt Richard's frustration as he tried to convince his friends that Kahlan was real and that he was not crazy. The book essentially follows his search for the truth even though all evidence seems to be against him. While he is searching for Kahlan, the D'Haran forces are facing overwhelming odds against the Imperial Order in the larger battle.

Chainfire is part of two series because it does continue the overall storyline of The Sword of Truth Series. However, there is one main difference between this book and the previous eight. In all of the other books in this series, the conflict for that book is resolved by the end even though the overarching battle against the Imperial Order continues to thread through each one. In Chainfire, there is very little resolution by the end of the book. Richard does find evidence that convinces his companions that Kahlan is real and discovers how she could have been erased from everyone's memories. He also learns what needs to be done in order to counteract the magic that caused the Chainfire event. However, he is unable to act on that knowledge immediately and has not found Kahlan by the end of the book. I will have to read the second book, Phantom, and the third book, Confessor, to see how the rest of the story goes. Confessor is also the final book in The Sword of Truth series.

The Sword of Truth series has become more political and philosophical as it has grown. In Chainfire, the explanation of the magic is complicated and rather confusing. Goodkind did an excellent job at portraying Richard's frustration at being unable to convince anyone of Kahlan's existence, his worry over her disappearance, and his self-doubt as he found no evidence to support his memories. As the reader, knowing of Kahlan's existence from earlier books, I was felt Richard's confusion and frustration along with him.

Overall, I greatly enjoy this series and am looking forward to reading the final two books. The CW currently has a show called Legend of the Seeker which is based on the first book in The Sword of Truth Series, Wizard's First Rule. My husband and I attempted to watch the initial episode but we found ourselves very frustrated with the substantial changes that had been made in the initial storyline and the relationships between the characters. If you are a fan of the books, I would not recommend the show.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Title: Twilight
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover, 544 pages
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: The Twilight Saga (Book 1)
Movie Release: November 21, 2008

I realize that I am a bit behind the times in reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight. My only excuse is that there are too many wonderful books and simply not enough time to read them all! However, since the movie is being released in a mere eleven days, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and finally get this book read.

Bella Swan makes a difficult decision at the beginning of this story to move to Forks, WA to live with her dad so that her mom doesn't have to choose between spending time with Bella or her new husband who frequently travels. When Bella makes this decision, she has no idea of the incredible impact moving to Forks will have on her future. In Forks, Bella faces being the new kid in high school but it doesn't turn out to be as bad as she anticipated. Most of the students are actually quite friendly. Then there are the Cullens who are beautiful and mysterious. They stay apart from the rest of the students in Forks, only socializing with each other. Bella is incredibly drawn to Edward Cullen and his mysterious actions only intrigue her further. Edward, in turn, is also drawn to Bella even as he tells her that it is dangerous for him to be around her. Eventually Bella learns Edward's secret, that he is a vampire, but instead of scaring her away this only makes Edward more attractive. While Bella and Edward attempt to figure out how a human and a vampire can safely fall in love, they face other dangers together.

While I did enjoy this young adult novel, it didn't quite live up to the expectations generated by all the publicity and the fan hype in anticipation of the movie. While Bella seemed older than her seventeen years in some ways, like making the decision to move so her mother would be happy and cooking meals for her father, she was incredibly innocent when it came to Edward. Despite being told many times by Edward that he was dangerous and she was not safe with him, Bella continues to trust him implicitly even before he had done anything to earn that trust. Then there is Edward knowing that he poses a danger to Bella just by being around her and yet being unable to stay away from her. While the attraction is mutual and unmistakable, the fact that Bella and Edward could not stay away from each other could have easily been demonstrated by their actions rather than the very repetitive conversations about why their relationship was a bad idea. These were the two main flaws that I found in the book. The story itself is very enjoyable and I will be reading the rest of the series and probably watching the movie at some point.