Review: Tithe by Holly Black

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Why I chose this book: 
   Originally, I read this book in high school and chose this book because of the pretty cover and my latest fascination with fairy lore and Amy Brown’s art. At the time, I loved it, but as I’ve matured, my opinions have altered ever so slightly.

Tithe by Holly Black  
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publish Date: October 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban-Fantasy
Buy: B&N || Amazon || Indiebound 


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 Kaye 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. (Goodreads)
3 things you need to know about this book:

   1. The life of a high school drop out and all-around weirdo
   So Kaye is a high school dropout from age 14, who cleans up after her mom’s own vomit more than her own. Being the daughter of a wannabe rocker who travels with the band, Kaye picks up all of the stereotypical issues. She curses like a sailor (much like her mother). She drinks heavily and doesn’t mind getting drunk with people she doesn’t know. And sex is a commonality in her life as with her mother’s Black Widow tendencies with her past boyfriends. 

   Needless to say, this is not about a well cultured or sheltered high schooler. This is about a kid who grew up to be older than her age and acts like a 19 year-old instead of 16. 

   As a freshman in high school, I remember finding her character refreshing. She didn’t fit the mold everyone else did. She was half Asian; she said weird things; she had “imaginary” friends; she was the one your parents wouldn’t like you hanging out with; and she believed in a world that no one else could see. In my book, that was someone I wanted to be friends with. Now, I see most of her actions and logic as misplaced and irresponsible. I’ll chalk that up to growing up, but I grew to dislike her character more than I remembered having done in high school.

   2. The life of a slightly disturbed gay man
   When you are first introduced to Cornelius (or Corny as he is called throughout the bulk of the novel), you read about him driving in his car, acting as if he is doing various drive by shootings. To me, I found that disturbing along with the thoughts that accompanied his actions. Like, tell me, why would you even joke about that? I don’t get it.

   What surprised me about this novel the most, is the fact that Holly Black created Corny to be a gay character. I will say, his coming out story with pretty epic and Trekkies would love it, but other than that, I found that he was just such an odd character. I enjoy reading about LGBTQ characters, but it was more of the way she conveyed his character, or rather, her lack of attention to detail in creating his character that bothered me. It added a side to the story, but he seemed to me like the guy Kaye constantly had to take care of and who got in the way of the actual progress of the plot.

   3. The life of a girl with an ADD thought process
   I found Kaye’s thought process extremely annoying. She jumped from one topic to the next, and the words that came out of her mouth did not follow any logical pattern. Some parts were realistic, but if she was ever caught in a sticky situation, she would say such odd things. It would take me out of the flow of the book and remind me that I was reading. I never got lost in this book. I was always trying to piece together what her line of thought was or what her next action would be because Black did such a poor job of conveying that to the reader.

   Final Thoughts:
   Overall, I remember absolutely loving this book, but upon further reflection and the enlightenment that can happen upon rereading, I found that this book was lacking terribly. In my opinion, it was one of the more poorly written debut novels, but it still held a spark that I could see a publishing house taking a chance on. In the end, it apparently paid off because this series got named one of the best books for young adults by the ALA, and received the Andre Norton Award as well. Not that I completely hate her writing, but I wonder if those awards were given just because of the sheer shock value that this book created on the school library shelves.

I gave this book 2.5 stars on my Goodreads.

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