Another one for my SFF and YA class, Holly Black’s Tithe started off well, but I liked it less as it went on.
Kaye is a fifteen year old girl who’s kind of weird and when her mother’s boyfriend tries to kill her mom in a bar, Kaye and her mom move back to the Jersey shore where Kaye grew up. She meets a mysterious gothic stranger in the woods/beside the turnpike and helps him and then things keep moving, getting Kaye further and further involved in the hidden Faery world.
What I liked about the book was its lack of a “meet the fae” kind of episode. Kaye’d always talked to faery as a kid, so she kind of knew stuff about them without having to have it explained. There wasn’t a tonne of explanation in the book. In some ways this was good because it felt more like regular life where the meanings of things aren’t expounded upon at great length, but as it went on it all felt a little shallow. At first it seems like you’re being dropped into a world and you’ll figure stuff out later, but aside from the central mystery, that never really happens. You have enough information to go on, but it doesn’t feel deep. There wasn’t a lot of mythic resonance or whatever, even in these scenes where knowing the true name of a faery is holding so much power, and the scenes in the Seelie and Unseelie Courts have been done much better in other places.
My favourite bit in the book is a gay character’s description of coming out to his family:
“Mom, you know the forbidden love Spock has for Kirk? Well, me too.”
Kaye is resourceful and figures shit out on her own, a good protagonist. There’s a bit of sexytime stuff, but nothing crazy. I mean, yes there are some kisses and longing and groping but it’s all pretty relaxed. (I obviously had a British edition, since this girl on the Jersey shore kept on saying “knickers.” Copy-editing is weird.)
The ending of the book felt rushed and there are obviously more in the series since the resolution seemed kind of trivial. I’m not sure I personally would keep reading them. I’ll gladly recommend it though.
My reading list for this Fantasy & Science Fiction course (I’ll update it with links to the reviews of the books as I read them):
- Anderson, M.T. (2002). Feed. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
- Babbitt, Natalie (1987). Fantasy and the Classic Hero. School Library Journal 25-29.
- Balay, Anne (2010). Zilpha keatley Snyder’s The Truth About Stone Hollow and the Genre of Time-Slip Fantasy. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, (35) 2, 131-143.
- Black, Holly (2002). Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. New York: Simon Pulse.
- Card, Orson Scott (1985). Ender’s Game. New York: Tor.
- Collins, Suzanne (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press.
- Cooper, Susan (1973). The Dark is Rising. New York: Atheneum.
- Farmer, Nancy (2002). The House of the Scorpion. New York: Atheneum.
- Farmer, Nancy (2004). The Sea of Trolls. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
- Gaiman, Neil (2008). The Graveyard Book. New York: HarperCollins.
- Goodman, Alison (2003). Singing the Dogstar Blues. New York: Viking.
- Heinlein, Robert (1977). Have Spacesuit Will Travel. New York: Ballantine. (originally published 1958).
- Jacques, Brian (1986). Redwall. New York: Philomel Books.
- Laetz, Brian & Joshua J. Johnston (2008). What is Fantasy? Philosophy and Literature, 32(1), 161-172.
- LeGuin, Ursula K. (1968). A Wizard of Earthsea. New York: Bantam Books.
- L’Engle, Madeleine (1962). A Wrinkle in Time. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
- Lowry, Lois (1993). Giver. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
- Lewis, C.S. (1994). The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. New York: HarperTrophy. (originally published 1950).
- McKinley, Robin (1984). The Hero and the Crown. New York: Greenwillow Books.
- Nodleman, Perry & Mavis Reimer. (2003). The Repertoire of Theory, The Pleasures of Children’s Literature (3rd ed.) (pp.218-250). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
- O’Brien, Robert C. (1975). Z for Zachariah. New York: Atheneum.
- Paolini, Christopher (2003). Eragon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Pearson, Mary (2008). The Adoration of Jenna Fox. New York: Henry Holt.
- Pullman, Philip (1996). The Golden Compass. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Riordan, Rick (2005). The Lightning Thief. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.
- Rowling, J.K. (1998). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.
- Shan, Darren (2001). A Living Nightmare. Boston: Little Brown.
- Slade, Arthur (2009). The Hunchback Assignments. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.
- Sleator, William (1984). Interstellar Pig. New York: Dutton.
- Thompson, Deborah L. (2001). Deconstructing Harry: Casting a Critical Eye on the Witches and Wizards of Hogwarts. In S. Lehr (Ed.), Beauty Brains and Brawn: The Construction of Gender in Children’s Literature (pp.42-50). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
- Vande Velde, Vivian (1999). Never Trust a Dead Man. San Diego: Harcourt.
- Westerfeld, Scott (2009). Leviathan. New York: Simon Pulse.
There’s some stuff on there I’ve read before, but not for ages and ages. I remember Interstellar Pig so fondly, and the Graveyard Book is awesome. This is going to be a fun term.
I read Holly Black’s The Good Neighbors at work this week. It’s about a teenaged girl whose mom has disappeared because she’s a faerie and her dad is being charged with murder. It was all right, and looked very nice, but it was 144 pages of set-up. Like reading the first chapter of a book. Nothing happened. Sure, stuff happened, but nothing interesting. The main character, Rue, was trying to be so blase it just made the whole thing glide by without any real connection. Solidly meh.