Monday, August 2, 2010

Tithe: Not at All About the Church

Inexplicably blond.
But instead, about faeries and changelings and a certain type of teenaged-decay that's just fantastic to read.

Kaye has been following her mother and her mother's dreams-of-fame for 16 years. She's a high school drop out, Asian girl with unexplained blond hair, no roots (as in stable place to allow her to ground and recover, but the same goes for the hair), and a strangeness that has been with her for as long as she can remember-- her imagination comes to life, she can make things happen just by wanting them, and her earliest friends are of the winged and tinkerbelling variety.

When her mother's latest inappropriate bad-boy-boyfriend tries to, well, kill her mother in the middle of a bar, the two of them head back to Jersey to stay with Kaye's grandmother. Kaye's mother runs around doing crazy and generally uninvolved-in-her-daughter's-life things, while Kaye hangs out with the locals, meets/falls in love with a bad-boy-friend faerie knight, gets a gay BFF, and discovers she's actually a pixie. 

The faerie stuff is cool, I'm not going to lie. There's this whole other beautiful and incredibly dangerous world that the author paints-- one with no mercy, where human life exists to be a short-lived amusement, and creatures that really love screwing with us have wild parties and kill each other for the heck of it and do a lot of other really nasty things without really giving a damn. (Except for the one really hot faerie that falls in love with Kaye. He, in quintessential YA male-love-interest-form is pretty cool and is disgusted by the crudeness of, well, his entire world.)

But honestly, the faerie stuff isn't nearly as interesting as the description that Black (the author's name is Holly Black. Did I mention that? No? Well, now I did.) gives of this teenage feeling of loneliness, hopelessness, and decay. Reading the scenes where Kaye and her best friend are sitting together in a trailer, you can smell the cat pee and mold. The sense of going-nowhere-fast that permeates the mortal teenage interactions in this book is beautifully morbid; even if these kids get out of this town in a few years and go onto bigger and better things (as most teens do) you can understand how pointless the moment feels to them-- their lives aren't going anywhere and why even bother trying?

Also making this book awesome are graphic depictions of skin shedding and faerie myth that would do an 1800s Irish townie proud. If you're looking for a quick but satisfying read, "Tithe" is a great way to spend an afternoon. You'll like the characters, things happen quickly enough to keep your attention, and the whole reek of desperation and death that surrounds the story-- both the mortal and the fae-- is irresistible.

1 comment:

  1. I just picked up her Kin Graphic Novel from the library. Will let you know how it is :)