manda's Reviews > Tithe

Tithe by Holly Black
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Aug 30, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: not-my-cuppa-tea, romance, fantasy, young-adult, craptastic, contemporary-fantasy
Read on August 30, 2011

Ugh. I don't know where to start with this one so I'm gonna jump right in. I didn't like it. It was all just a raging bunch of WTF?! for me. I mean, it was random. My brain hurts so this isn't going to be a very coherent review.

Before I go to my detailed ravings, it's best if I gave a brief overview of what this book was about. It's the story of Kaye, a changeling, who was put under a glamour to hide her true green-skinned self and lives with her rockstar wannabe "mother", Ellen. Her life ultimately changes when her mother was almost murdered in a pathetic, lame excuse of an attempted stabbing, and having nowhere else to go, they return to their home town.
Here, Kaye suddenly finds herself reunited with her childhood "imaginary" friends, who needs her to help them plot against the unseelie court and win the freedom of the faeries.

It was painful. It's like listening to a child with ADHD jumping from one thing to the next. Everything seemed so rushed that you don't get a single connection to the story.

First example of it popped up right there in the freaking prologue.
Frank, Stepping Razor's drummer, grabbed Lloyd's arm. Lloyd had just enough time to punch Frank in the face before other patrons tackled him and somebody called the police.
By the time the cops got there, Lloyd couldn't remember anything. He was mad as hell, though, cursing Ellen at the top of his lungs. The police drove Kaye and her mother to Lloyd's apartment and waited while Kaye packed their clothes and stuff into plastic garbage bags. Ellen was on the phone, trying to find a place for them to crash.
"Honey," Ellen said finally, "we're going to have to go to Grandma's."

So a bit of background info, that's the scene where Lloyd, the dude Kaye's mum is dating, the dude they live with -- tried to kill Kaye's mum. And that is literally the single paragraph where it is mentioned.
I don't know about you, but if my boyfriend suddenly lost his marbles and tried to kill me, I'd be in a state of hysteria. I'd be wondering what the flying fook was that all about?!? I'd be dedicating at least an extra paragraph or two to explore the psychological damage that's done me, and probably wrap things up a little smoothly.
But nope; not this. Apparently they're happy with "We're going to have to go to grandma's."
and the next scene, they're living with Nana and Kaye's off to some rave like some whacko never tried to gut her mama. Like wtf is wrong with you people?!

And this sort of thing continues persistently throughout the rest of the book. I guess what I'm trying to say is the narrative came out as choppy and rushed; it was emotionally detached from the readers, like an exposition of events. This was happening, and then this, this followed by a whopping amount of this.

And this is the second reason why I simply couldn't like Tithe. I just couldn't relate - or even respect - any of them.

I'm sorry, Black, was I supposed to root for Kaye and her friends? Was I supposed to care (view spoiler)??

So here's the thing. Black was trying to make it seem like Grandma was the annoying, self-righteous, imposing old woman butting into her daughter & grand-daughter's business; and we were supposed to hate her. For shame, Granny, you should know that school is for wussies and you don't need an education for a decent future. Look at your own daughter Ellen! You tried to bring her up with your strict rules and educayshen but she turned out some groupie whore/rockstar wannabe ... better let HER make the decisions for Kaye; she is, after all, her mother. And mother knows best, right? Right??

Also, the depiction of these ... urban (?) teens really frustrated me. It seems that all they do is get stoned, drink, rave, oh and shoplift. And yes I am aware that some people do do this nonstop and burn their pretty little brain cells away, but if you want to make characters with these traits and no redeeming qualities whatsoever, please don't expect me to care about them.

Oh and what's with the lack of parental figures in YA? Alright, in this case, what's with the lack of *significant* parental figure? It's like the author wrote Ellen that way just so she conveniently butts out of her daughter's business and doesn't get in the way of her adventure.

Kaye shook her head. It was kind of stupid to think that her mother would just give up on going back to the city, but she couldn't help hoping. "Tell Grandma I won't be home late."
"You come home when you want. I'm your mother." ....yes, yes you are.

So she comes home at like, three in the morning and all's dandy at breakfast the next day. Man am I glad *my* parents weren't that lenient and actually cared if I came home raped or not.

((sidenote)) I don't understand why Kaye was made half-Japanese? Is this somehow relevant in the next installments? --cuz it dang well wasn't in this one! --or is it just some odd otaku homage?[image error]

This is the problem with most YAs. I just don't see how these two characters could fall for each other - especially in such short amount of time. Kaye saw Roiben once and fell instantaneously in love with his ... hair? I have no idea. By the way, she met him, bleeding in the woods and her first sentence was "You're a fairie, aren't you?"

...and what if I am?

...and what if I am?

I also don't know what Roiben sees in Kaye. Apparently she's "Kind, lovely and terribly, terribly brave." I'm not sure about the kind part, just read over the times she lets her best friend's boyfriend feel her up (twice!), get caught, and just run away (both times!) without bothering to see if her "bff" was fine or not.[image error]

I'm going to go now because everything's a jumble in my head and I have no idea how to put it in a coherent structure. Final word is, I will not be reading the sequels.

you can also find reviews at my blog
57 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Tithe.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

02/18/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Amanda Why does it matter if she was made half Japanese? It was just part of her lineage. Like how some people are half Italian or half Irish. It's just how the author wanted her to be made. It's as ordinary as all of the other people with more than one race in their veins.

message 2: by manda (last edited Jun 24, 2013 06:37PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

manda Because that fact was thrown out there but was not relevant to the story at all (ie. no part of her culture was remotely Japanese, there was no further mention of any paternal figure to explain her Japanese heritage, etc etc). So why mention her being half Japanese at all?

In other words I simply don't "get" why the author would make a character half anything, and not expound anything on it. "Just for the sake of it" is lazy and irrelevant to the plot.
Unless, of course, her looking half Japanese was somehow only a product of the glamour on her. Which still doesn't even explain WHY she chose the word "Japanese" to describe how she looked. Erm, newsflash to the author, not all Japanese people look the same way.

Amanda They did talk about her mother being a groupie for some band, and her father was apparently Asian and was in that band. And the reason why her being Japanese was brought up was because in the book someone asked her what flavor of Asian she was. And we have to remember that Kaye isn't actually Japanese, but the child she took the place of is Japanese. And perhaps the author just wanted to have a character who was half-Japanese or liked Japanese culture or something. It seems strange, but, eh. There are reasons mentioned as to why she's half Japanese.

message 4: by Skedatt (last edited Mar 16, 2015 03:22PM) (new)

Skedatt You pretty much summed up how I feel about the book. So much better than I want to take the time to.

Nicole Exactly how I feel. Reading it was painful. painful.

Cassandra Barboza So what, characters can't be Asian (half Asian)? So what, protagonists can't be Asian (half Asian)? Do all characters have to be White (Caucasian white)? There are Asian people in the world, what other reason does there need to be to have an Asian lead? Kaye is Asian because the author wanted her to be, because there are Asian people in the world, and Asian protagonists. A person/character doesn't have to be stereotypically Asian to be Asian, most Asian kids aren't any different (or extremely different at least) from your average white kid. Seriously this whole "why is she Asian" commentary reeks of racism. It's not violent racism, but it sure is racism. And if not racism definitely microaggression against Asians and people of color. You ask why is she Asian, when the real question should be, why shouldn't she be Asian?

manda Thanks for the entire tirade about Asian people existing in the real world. Not like I would know, seeing as I *am* Asian myself. My problem with the book from what I remember anyway is that she was made half Japanese and absolutely NOTHING was mentioned or even shown about her Japanese culture or background. The author even had to give her naturally blonde hair. Cuz being Asian's cool but being blonde is hot, huh? Nothing about Kaye was Japanese. Other than, oh, her "slanted eyes". Way to go. Not racist or stereotypical at all. If you want to be inclusive don't be half-arsed about it. Kthxbye.

message 8: by Cassandra (last edited May 19, 2015 09:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cassandra Barboza That's even worse that you are Asian, you should know better than to argue against representation. There is barely any Asian representation in American fiction, I think every character counts, especially lead characters. A person's culture is extremely important but it's not the only thing about them. Each Asian culture needs to be respected and represented but that doesn't mean that every Asian character is only representative of their culture. I myself am Latina and a lot of times that's important to who I am but at other times it has nothing to do with who I am. I sometimes define myself through that lens but for other things it is completely irrelevant. This book is about Kaye and not her culture. Kaye doesn't even know her Asian father and thus I imagine she doesn't know any relatives which I imagine would make it hard for anyone to learn about that culture. Just because someone is Asian doesn't mean they have to identify with the culture of wherever they or their parents came from. Kaye even fights against and reviles the stereotypes that just because she is Asian she has to fit into Asian stereotypes.

There are lots of wonderful Asian characters that give us a glimpse into their cultures but there are also characters that barely or don't even touch upon that. Michaela Conlin as Angela Montenegro from Bones, Cho Chang from Harry Potter, Archie Panjabi as Reed from The Fall, Hikaru Sulu, and many, many more are wonderful Asian characters that never delve into their Asian-ness and are still amazing characters. Representation of these characters is also important. Seeing these characters in our fiction is important.

Nothing about Kaye needed to be ultra Japanese for her to be an Asian character, for her Asian representation to count. She is no less Asian because she doesn't know about Japan. The representation of any Asian character is super important because it shows people that Asian people are there, that they are doing things the same as anyone else.

There are blonde Asians out there. I'll give you that there aren't a lot but they still exist. Anything is possible in the realm of genetics. Even if her dad is half-asian, her mom is still caucasian.

[image error]

[image error]

And the slanted eyes, honestly it's probably just a descriptor so that people don't imagine the character as another average white girl since she is blonde. You say half-Japanese with blond hair and some people are going to just imagine a white girl but you add slanted eyes and there is no question that she is Asian, no way of denying it.

There is nothing half-assed about this character just because her Asian-ness isn't stereotypical Asian with stereotypical Asian parents. It is inclusive even if it isn't inclusive in a way that you like.

(I tried to add pictures of naturally blonde asians but I don't know if it will really work, so if it doesn't just type in naturally blonde asians in Google images and a whole bunch of naturally blonde asian kids will pop up)

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I honestly felt it the book was fetishising, especially with the sprinkling of Japanese words that felt completely out of place, especially with that introductory dialogue with Corny. And Corny's coming out moment? I felt like it could be better, but he is honestly the only character I mildly cared about. The plot was random and unintelligible most of the times. Romance was really rushed and the part where he kissed her butt was way to weird for me.

Just because we are Asian does not mean we have to agree with every author's portrayal of Asian people. And yes, representation does matter, but we also have the right to choose better representations, that if something made us feel uncomfortable we are allowed to criticise it. Not all Asian people have slanted eyes. Holy crap. If your descriptor relates Asian to mean 'strictly East Asian' then you are not doing a good job of representation.

manda Kata wrote: "I honestly felt it the book was fetishising, especially with the sprinkling of Japanese words that felt completely out of place, especially with that introductory dialogue with Corny. And Corny's c..."

Thanks, "Just because we are Asian does not mean we have to agree with every author's portrayal of Asian people" >> I absolutely agree with that. I would rather not be represented in a particular book, than be represented in a fetishizing/half-assed way.

Scribblegirl good review... and not racist. you raise a valid point in that it was a toss off that have the appearance of being there for the some reason of lending some sort of cred.

Scribblegirl had not have.

Scribblegirl omg autocorrect. HAD the SOLE reason...

manda Did NOT even realize someone had commented on the review! (Thanks, goodreads notifications!)

Agree with you that it felt like some lazy way of earning some sort of "diversity points".

message 15: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary Did you even read the book? They made her half Japanese because she's a faerie...and certain Asian features (particularly the eyes) fit the way that she portrays faeries in her novels.

manda exactly. So in other words, using ethnicity as a prop to suit your agenda. PS not all Asians are Japanese, not all Japanese have the same features (eyes or any other part of the human body). The stereotype is lazy and overdone.

Arianna The other characters fetishize her, she only says that her mother tells her she's half Asian (Japanese) because she was the result of a random one night stand with a man who was PROBABLY Asian. Again, Kaye says that Roiben has the same "Asian-esq" (the stereotypes ones) features as she does, which is part of being Fae. However, When she finds "real Kaye" in the Seelie Court, that little girl is also blonde and Asian. So we can assume that real Kaye was chose for her already Fae features (aka stereotyped Asian) when she was switched for Faerie Kaye.

manda That doesn't make the book less fetishising.

Holly Pracht this review pretty much hits the nail on the head. thanks for writing it out so i didnt have to <3

message 20: by L. (last edited Jan 16, 2017 06:41AM) (new) - added it

L. I'm glad I found this discussion before starting the book.

So sick of YA authors constantly using trite stereotypes to describe East Asian characters. And I don't know if they're doing it out of pure laziness or out of ignorance, thinking our most defining feature are slanted and upturned eyes. /facepalm Many Asians, let alone half-Asians, don't even have that kind of eyes, yet we always look like slanty-eyed stereotypes in YA books. So much for diversity.

I know this book is old and the context is different because of the faeries's features but that doesn't make it any better.

manda Another comment I didn't receive notification for >_<)

I know it's soooo late but thanks for your two cents. The comments to this review explains my thoughts better than what I said in the actual review. Having Kaye be a half-Japanese character for no reason would've been fine... if the rest of it weren't so stereotypical and half-arsed.

I actually think the fact it turned out to be the *faeries* features makes it worst. So it turns out Kaye isn't even half-Japanese! She was just described using stereotypically Japanese descriptors to give the illusion of diversity.

back to top