Monday, March 28, 2011

Tithe by Holly Black

Tithe by Holly Black
ISBN: 0689867042
Margaret K. Elderberry, 2004
336 p.

Plot Summary: Kaye is a teenage girl who finds out that she is a pixie in disguise. Ever since she was young, she has interacted with tiny pixies and fairies, but thought nothing of it until she saved the life of a knight named Roiben. She learns his full name, which in the world of Faerie means that he must do what she commands when she says his name. There are two warring factions in Faerie and one wants to sacrifice Kaye as a Tithe in a ritual that will satiate both parties. Kaye, her friend Corny, and her possible interest Roiben will have to figure out how to deal with the friendly but sometimes malevolent world of Faerie.

Critical Analysis: Tithe is a dark and brooding novel. Kaye's mother is an alcoholic who plays in a rock band, it always seems to be raining in her world, and drugs and alcohol are often present. The world of Faerie is both malevolent and friendly, much like Kaye's friend Roiben. At times, he seems interested and protective of Kaye, other times, he comes off as dangerous and cloying.

More than most other young adult books I have read for this project, Tithe is dense. Black has a large vocabulary that she does not shy away from and her prose is full of detail and imagery. Unfortunately, this is both commendable and reprehensible. On one hand, I can appreciate a young adult author who does not dumb down her writing, but on the other, Tithe was difficult to follow. Black introduces elements of the Faerie world or characters and does not revisit them until much later. There is potential for depth, but it would almost require a reread to fully comprehend everything.

Similarly, Tithe falls into a few young adult sterotypes and tropes. Roiben is the archetype of the brooding and mysterious male love interest so often seen in young adult books. He comes off as loving and dangerous and even creepy at some points. Also, the connection between Roiben and Kaye seems forced altogether even despite a spell that was put on him.

Reader's Annotation: Kaye has unknowingly stumbled into an underground world of Faerie. Now two warring factions seem to be fighting over her!

Author Information: Holly Black is the author of the Faerie Trilogy, Tithe being the first. She also created The Spiderwick Chronicles. Black has an Eisner-nominated graphic novel series entitled The Good Neighbors as well.


Genre: urban fantasy, young adult for the ladies

Curriculum Ideas: N/A

Booktalking Ideas: Fairies and pixies are not often used in fantasy books. Why is this? Did Black do it justice?

Authors like Neil Gaiman and Holly Black incorporate mythology into their fictional work. Do you think this is becoming a trend in writing?

Reading Level/Interest Age: Ages 16 and up

Challenge Issues: Drugs, smoking, cussing

Challenge Defense Ideas: Become familiar with the book, keeping the challenge issues in mind. Refer to the library's collection development policy here. If possible, find other opinions from reviews, recommendations, or others who have read the book.

Why I included this title: This was recommended to me by a friend, she said it was a Neil Gaiman readalike. I also thought I should read a few books that appeal more to the female young adult audience. Teens would appreciate the dark tone and risky behavior of Kaye in this book as well.

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