The Good Neighbors, book 2
Rating - 3: worth reading once (borrow it from a library)
Low investment, low pay-off, this book marginally clears the bar for "worth it" without making me enthusiastic about the next one the way the first one did.
Rue returns, half-human and half-faerie, with her mother's faerie kin planning something against the human world. Her friends have gone weird and the world threatens to go crazy. She enters the faerie world in search of answers and her mother.
The graphic novel art remains good, although everyone looks a bit feline. If you like pointed ears and claws, this has a lot of them. A couple of the faces could use more differentiation. The story is not much for big spectacles, just character scenes with lots and lots of shadow. Faerie parties are a bit of a spectacle, but that is just a bit more decoration on the humans who already look half-way there.
Characterization is minimal. Bring whatever character affinities you liked from the first book, because each minor character gets just a couple pages in the spotlight. Most of them are broken or breaking in their own personal ways. Everyone's life is problematic, it seems, but I am not given much reason to care about their suffering.
The plot seems mostly to be Rue having culture shock with respect to the faerie world. The lines from before nudge forward, but after mixing in a few new threads, there is not much room to progress. There is a central theme, Aubrey's plot against the city, but that stays surprisingly in the background considering it is the plot driver. The elements of it are in the foreground, but it is as if the book needs to remind us every now and again that there is a unifying theme to these separate scenes.
If I may make a recommendation to both sides of the fight, without spoiling things? When you demonstrably have the means to reverse necessary parts of the enemy's plans, even if you later find that it causes some negative side effects, it could be worth it to do so. And if you are that enemy? It is okay to go a little overboard in case of reversal, or at least bring more sacrificial knives to the big climax when the hero can undo your sacrifices.
It is a dark book about faeries, mixing in more woods and a bit less of the city this time. I missed Birch, a minor character I liked who had four pages this time. Most of the rest of the minor cast left me cold. Obvious potential love interest began working on that potential. It ends surprisingly. Kind of "meh," although I give credit for an ending that highlights possible character depths only suggested before.