Friday, February 8, 2013
Review: White Cat
Author: Holly Black
Published: May 4, 2010
5 Gold Stars
(summary from Goodreads)
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 facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade 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 out-con the conmen.
The Curse Workers series is unlike any young adult series I've read so far. Black creates a film noir world that's just as modern as it is vintage. Everyone wears gloves to protect themselves from workers and to protect the workers from detection. Gloves are as common as pants, but workers find ways around them. Cassel comes from a family of workers, him being the only one with a power. To make up for his lack of abilities, he has become a very good con man. I think my favourite part of reading was just to see how he'd get in and out of situations without getting caught. He's good, like really good.
Cassel has taken to conning those at his fancy private school. He's doing pretty good at pretending to be normal when he suddenly starts to sleepwalk. Then he dreams of a white cat that he can't help reminding him of his old friend Lila, someone he killed three years before. When stranger things happen and he starts to forget important parts of his life, Cassel starts to feel his life unraveling and he won't sleep until he figures out exactly what's going on.
I thought the curse workers idea was brilliant. Many people are born as workers, but it has become illegal, meaning that if you know you're a worker, you're automatically a criminal. It's hard enough being a teenager, let alone not knowing what you're capable of doing. The underground world of workers is dark and sketchy, and people can buy charms to protect themselves from workers. The talents that come with working are clever and believeable. Emotion workers can change how you feel towards people. Luck workers can guarantee you good luck or bad. Death workers can kill you with a touch, and memory workers can erase any part of your memory they please and replace it with a new one easily. No one it's illegal and there are people out there trying to get rid of all of them and make it mandatory to get tested. Workers have become mobsters, controlling the underbelly of the world while people try not to touch bare hands to bare skin. I love the subtleness of the gloves and how easily it is for the workers to do their business anyway.
This is the first series I've read by Black, but I was blown away by her writing and descriptions. I completely felt for Cassel, which I've found a hard thing to do with male narrators. I was eager to figure out what was happening to him and who the white cat really was. I wanted the bad guys to get what was coming to them and I wanted Cassel to get the girl. The twists and turns left me gasping and ripping through the chapters and the ending came too quickly. It's a good thing I already had Red Glove on hand to start reading immediately after.
Mobsters, magic, and cons left right and centre separate this series from every other series out there. It played out like a old mystery and I could picture everything happening in black and white. It has the dame, the guns, and the mystery to leave you wanting more. Black has hit this genre on the head.
“Once someone's hurt you, it's harder to relax around them, harder to think of them as safe to love. But it doesn't stop you from wanting them.”
“Clever as the Devil and twice as pretty.”
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