By Holly Black
Tithe is the story of Kaye, a teenager with a fairly messed up life. She dropped out of school at 14 to work full time at a Chinese restaurant in an attempt to earn some money. She follows her punk-rock wanna be mother from place to place and gig to gig. Eventually, they end up at Kaye's grandmother's home where Kaye discovers she is a pixie.
The story of Tithe itself is fairly straightforward. I thought it flowed pretty well, but it certainly wasn't groundbreaking. I thought Kaye should have shown some more emotion when she learned of the betrayal of her friends. ** SPOILER ** Honestly, they tried to have her killed! but she just seemed to take it in stride. She got a little angry, yelled a bit, Roiben was made King, the end. It just didn't seem to be a realistic response ** END SPOILER **
The world of the fey is parallel to this world, so it was easy to get into the setting without anything feeling too foreign. Kaye is an interesting character that seems really developed on some levels and completely flat on others. She cleans up after her mother when she gets too drunk/drugged out to do so herself; drops out of high school to work full-time for the money; etc. Yet, she obsesses over boys that she hardly knows to the point where it becomes an infatuation. She bewitches another the be in love with her simply to see it happen. Maybe she is mature where she has to be (ie trying to survive) and completely immature everywhere else and that's what came off as flat? It was just kind of odd. For some reason, I really liked Roiben. He was a jerk, and fairly flat - a lot of his character jumps were pretty convenient and unrealistic - but I liked his conflicted soul, and he turns out ok in the end.
There is a lot of gratuitous swearing in this book. It made me really uncomfortable. I guess the author was trying to be "realistic" or something, but it just came off as annoying and unnecessary. So, while I enjoyed the story overall (maybe 3 stars out of 5), I wouldn't recommend it, and I definitely won't be reading the sequels.