Graphix, 2008. 978-0439846813
Synopsis: After a family tragedy, Emily, her brother Navin, and their mother move into their mother’s great-grandfather’s home. The first night in the house, the three hear a strange noise downstairs, but when they go to investigate, Emily and Navin’s mother is kidnapped by a beast lurking in the shadows. Following the beast through a door in the basement, Emily and Navin enter a strange parallel universe, full of darkness, robots, monsters, and talking animals. Together with the help of a mechanical rabbit named Miskit, Emily and Navin set off across this strange new land to find and rescue their mother.
Why I picked it up: It was recommended to me by some library school classmates and I was able to meet the author at a convention last summer, which is where I picked up the books.
Why I finished it: I have to admit, I picked it up expecting a fantasy adventure, and that is what I got, but Amulet is so much more than that. The first portion of the story is well-layered and it helps fuel the emotions of the reader and the characters as the book progresses. One aspect of the story is that of overcoming loss: the characters have experienced something life-changing and lost something that is important to them, and the grieving process is having an effect on mom, Emily, and Navin. Another part speaks to the notion of adolescence as a phase of growing up: kids want to be able to take on more responsibility and take charge of their own lives, but there is usually something that holds them back, whether it be rules, parents, other people, or other obstacles that keep us from getting where we think we need to be. The combination of these two parts is what drives the story and motivates the characters. Fearful of losing her mother, Emily will do whatever she can to bring her back. Navin wants to bring his mother back as well, but the reader also sees him striving to seek recognition from his sister, to prove that he is old enough to do something to help. Kibuishi’s art is simple, but thought-provoking, and creates a ery cinematic feel to the story that reminded me a lot of Miyazaki’s film interpretation of Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s sweeping and grandiose in its execution and gives the reader a greater understanding of the wonder and the danger of this parallel world into which we are drawn. Wonderfully moving and imaginative, Amulet is a story with a lot of love and heart, and I’ll definitely be starting the second book soon.
Other related materials: Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 4: The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi; Amulet, Book 5: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi; Explorer: The Mystery Boxes by Kazu Kibuishi; Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; Legends of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; Knights of the Lunch Table books by Frank Cammuso; Ghostopolis by Doug Tennapel; Cardboard by Doug Tennapel; Bone graphic novels by Jeff Smith; Owly graphic novels by Andy Runton; Lunch Lady books by Jarrett J. Krosoczka; Daniel Boom AKA Loud Boy books by D.J. Steinberg; Smile by Raina Telgemeier; Drama by Raina Telgemeier