Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Heather Reviews: Tithe by Holly Black

Title:  Tithe (Modern Faerie Tales, #1)
Author:  Holly Black
Released:  2002
Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry Books
Sixteen-year-old Kaye is a modern nomad. Fierce and independent, she travels from city to city with her mother's rock band until an ominous attack forces the sixteen-year-old back to her childhood home. There, amid the industrial, blue-collar New Jersey backdrop, Kaye soon finds herself an unwilling pawn in an ancient power struggle between two rival faerie kingdoms -- a struggle that could very well mean her death.

Holly Black is fast becoming one of my favorite YA authors lately. I read White Cat and was blown away, then a few months later I read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and flailed. Since I don't have a copy of Red Glove to read, I thought I would turn my attention to Tithe. Reviews warned me that it wasn't Black's best effort, which is fine by me; we all have to start somewhere. Overall I liked the book and will definitely continue the series (especially since I hear Valiant is from the viewpoint of a new protagonist and I love series like that), but it came across as a first novel to me.

One of the biggest problems I had with the book was that everything seems to happen at a rapid fire pace. The prologue has Kaye's mother nearly killed by her boyfriend. There's not really any downtime to react before Kaye's mom calls her grandmother and then tells Kaye they'll be living with her for a while. For a little while, I honestly wondered if her mother's boyfriends tried to kill her so often that it no longer elicited a reaction.

That's just one example, a few others are spoilery, so I won't talk about them, but I felt like I wasn't given enough room to breathe and process events! It all happened so fast and I kept wondering whether or not this would become a plot point later on, like Kaye having trouble dealing with how fast things have been happening to her. I wouldn't have blamed her if, at any point in the novel, she became angry with her fairy friends and tried to get away from her problems because I just wasn't seeing her deal with any of them.

I did actually like Kaye, she was quite a smart protagonist, even if a few of her choices were questionable. She was willing to actually get out and do things and once she found out she had been misled, she set about trying to make things right.

A thing I noticed in Holly Black's books, and that I actually love, is that there are no love triangles or instalove. There's attraction between the protagonist and love interest, but it never turns into obsession on either person's part. Kaye meets Roiben in a forest one night and thinks about him on occasion, but she does not become obsessed with him, and they don't get together. It's so refreshing to see this in books!

As much as I liked the book the writing was off in a lot of places, but around the middle of the novel things began to pick up. The writing when Kaye dips into the world of Faeries is beautiful and a little creepy, reminding me of The Gentleman with the thistle-down hair's parties from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, but it takes around half of the novel to get there. However, even after hitting the middle bit, the writing could still get confusing in places. I honestly wasn't entirely sure what happened between Kaye and Roiben in the restaurant until it was pointed out later in the novel.

I think my favorite thing about the book (that I should go into discussion on sometime later) is that it wraps up all the events in this book, but leaves the world open for further exploration. This is pretty much key to me now because so many first novels in a series don't do it (which doesn't make the book bad!). I'm excited to read the rest of the series now that I've finished it.

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