This book caught my attention recently when I was visiting with a friend, and visited a comic shop I don’t often get to. It was shelved next to Bone, which proved fortuitous as I like what I’ve read of that series (the Scholastic Graphix imprint editions), and this is also a Graphix edition…but NOT Bone. I left it there, but the thing sat on my mind for the next couple days until I finally bought it at a local Barnes & Noble.
I read the back cover, but not being at all familiar with the characters or creator, nothing really stood out to me from that. Having acquired the volume and thus having it to get to at my leisure, it sat another couple weeks before I took it with me to read at a park…where I sped through the first 140 pages in one sitting.
When weighed against something like The Hunger Games or Divergent, this is rather tame; I’d normally be a bit “concerned” about the traumatic nature of what the main character and her brother face otherwise, as kids’ fare. But then, these days, said concern just goes to show my first instincts based on a hyper-sensitive culture that tries to “protect” children from ever being “exposed to” stuff, despite the fact that they get it all over from tv, movies, games, classmates, school, etc.
Amulet begins with Emily and her parents driving somewhere to pick up her brother Navin, when tragedy strikes–and the family is devastated. We see this in a prologue rather than flashback, and that works well for me as we’re not left to “wonder” what happened…we see it unfold before us, on-panel, and it gives us a definite sense of where Emily and her mother are when the main story opens.
Emily and Navin’s mom moves them to an old house that’s been in the family for generations, to get a fresh start away from the painful memories. Unfortunately for the family, the house is a mess, and possibly haunted. They attack the place with mops, buckets, brooms, and other cleaning, working to make the place livable. While cleaning, Emily finds a mysterious amulet on a chain. That night, the kids’ mom is kidnapped by a tentacled creature and they pursue, and soon find themselves in a parallel world. The amulet draws them to their great-grandfather, his home, and a “family” of automatons he’s created that have been imbued with individuality/sentience.
With the grandfather’s passing, the kids and their newfound friends are left with the task of rescuing their mother…a mission that shows hints of a larger, wider world and a destiny the kids may not be able to avoid.
While I know that Bone was originally published as a serialized comic series, I’m not familiar with Amulet except in this book format, and did not notice any significant internal breaks–so I’m assuming it was created for this format, and at the least it seems very well suited for it. This first book works well as a “pilot” to the larger series, functioning both as its own arc as well as setting up a world for further exploration.
I appreciate that we get a full “arc” for the characters for the most part resolve the main premise, while having things seeded for later stories. The book does end with some new questions and possibilities, as well as an ongoing thread from this first adventure…a motivation TO continue adventuring and exploring the world Emily and Navin have found themselves in.
Story-wise this is enjoyable, with a lot of potential, interesting characters whose voices I could “hear” pretty easily, and has me curious how things develop.
I like the art for this. While it looks like manga, something about it doesn’t entirely FEEL like manga. Essentially, it just has its own feel and look. There’s a welcome consistency throughout with the character designs between the human and non-human characters and creatures. I was put very much in mind of the castle occupants from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and as I write this, I’m supposing that may be part of what made the characters work for me.
Amulet is new to me, but there are at least 6 volumes in print that I’m aware of and the copyright date on this first one is 2008, so I’m obviously late to the party. If–like me–you’ve never checked it out, but have enjoyed the likes of Bone or stuff like Disney‘s Beauty and the Beast, I’d definitely encourage giving this a look.