Tuesday, July 13, 2010

White Cat by Holly Black

Posted by Simcha 5:13 PM, under | 5 comments

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 mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, 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.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts 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, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

I had picked up this book on a whim, not really knowing what to expect as I haven’t read anything by Holly Black before, and was pleased to find myself almost immediately engrossed by the story. I actually ended up staying up late into the night just so I could finish it. The story is refreshingly unique and full of unpredictable twists that kept surprising me until the very end.

The one fault I found with White Cat is that it contains very few likable characters. It took me a bit of time to warm up to Cassel, who is not the most engaging guy, though compared to most of the other book characters, he is downright lovable. The characters seem to fall into two categories, those who are bullying and manipulating others and those who are being and manipulated and bullied, and even those characters who are meant to be neutral seem to fall into this pattern, which started to really annoy me after a while. I particularly disliked how Cassel kept allowing himself to be pushed around by others, even claiming at times to enjoy it, which made him less appealing to me.

I really did enjoy reading this book though, probably more than I had anticipated, and I'm sure that those who generally read YA books will enjoy it as well. I look forward to picking up the sequel, Red Glove, when it comes out next May.


good to know this book delivers--but oh no, not many likable characters. i have a copy of this book but i have yet to read it. thanks for the review simcha!

I have trouble sometimes with books in which I don't like the characters. . . and yet, the fact that you found this so engaging makes me think I should give it a chance. I have been thinking about checking out Holly Black.

Every review I've read of White Cat has been positive and while I too normally don't read this genre, maybe I should try it out. Perhaps like you I shall be surprised and like it.

Glad to hear you enjoyed it! Doesn't sound like my cup of tea unfortunately, but let me know how it turns out!


chelleyreads: There was really just one character that I really liked, and he was a rather minor character. I would have preferred it there were some more characters that I could have liked, but I did still enjoy the book and I hope you will as well.

Audrey: I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on this book, particularly since you are usually more open to YA books than I am.

Stephanie: I can't really tell if this is a book that people who don't really read YA will enjoy. I happened to also really want an easy read just then, so the timing might have had to do with it as well. But if you do read it I would be interested in hearing your thoughts

Byan: Yeah, I'm not much of a YA reader either but every so often I like to dip my toes in a bit and see what it is that everyone is talking about.

Aleksandra: I think you would probably enjoy this book (I have a sense for such things ;) )

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