Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: White Cat

Title: White Cat

Author: Holly Black

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Part of a Series?: First in series

Goodreads Summary:

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers—people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn’t got magic, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail—he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.
Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts to crumble when he finds himself sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to outcon the conmen.


This book made my head hurt in the best way possible. It's a con within a con (con-ception...errr...yeah...awk)! And is it possible that I could allude to Oceans Eleven twice in one week? White Cat really captures the mystery, intrigue, and last minute reveals that makes a great mystery book great. 

First of all, I really like it when authors present the fantasy/paranormal elements as realities rather than something mythological and made up. However, I feel like Black probably could've found a more unique way to world build the concept of curse working. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of curses. But I've read a fair share of AU-esque urban fantasy that utilizes mafia elements. IMO, the crime family foundation feels like a crutch that gives an unnecessary feeling of cliché to the whole book. But I do like the world building in general. Interestingly, good-hearted people can curse people; it's not just the bad guys who curse you with death.

The best part about this book are the characters. Cassel is a refreshing narrator. He's so thankfully flawed and ungirly. Most guy protagonists I've read don't seem like any guy I've ever seen; in other words, they usually have an obsession with confessing their deepest darkest emotions and secrets. That wouldn't work with Cassel. He's a rather deep character; he's internally troubled yet confident in his own non-worker con man abilities. Also, I rather enjoyed Lila's character, for the amount of time we got to see her in the story. She defied my expectations from the moment we first see her in a flashback; she is capable and independent--hell, it doesn't even look like she likes Cassel the way she likes him. And the fact that she isn't the narrator, ironically, makes her even more relatable to me. I think this is the trend for the general cast of White Cat. They don't fit one mold. Overall, Cassel's family members are coldhearted, ruthless crime ring thugs, but they look out for each other in was that only true family could. With regards to the side characters, I have to agree with Cassel when he says something like how he's thankful that Sam and Daneca still are his friends even though he uses them for his own purposes. I felt like Sam and Daneca were really shoved aside when it came to the real story, instead of being incorporated into Cassel's plans. 

Overall, it had its flaws, but this was a great book. Totally reading the sequel.  


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