Time for another YA book review, folks! I recently finished Holly Black’s White Cat and decided it would be a good book to review.
White Cat is the story of a teenage boy, Cassel, who comes from a family of “curse workers.” Curse workers are people who have the power to make you dream, give you good luck, change your emotions, or even kill you, with a touch of their hand. White Cat is set in an alternate-history world where curse workers are basically “the mob.” Because of regular people’s fear of curse workers, everyone wears gloves and they are afraid to be touched by one another. People who are curse workers are criminals that have to live beneath the radar.
The main character, Cassel, is an outsider in a world of outsiders because he comes from an entire family of curse workers and the “magic touch” seems to have skipped him over. He’s just a straight kid in a not-so-straight family, who’s trying to make it in the world. In an effort to assimilate, Cassel has registered at an exclusive prep school where he hopes to leave his family and their life of crime behind.
But Cassel is not so “straight” as one might think. He killed his best friend, Lila. Cassel is being plagued by dreams of a white cat, and one of those dreams lands him on the roof of his prep school. After the fire department shows up to help him down, and the school’s convinced it was a suicide attempt, Cassel is sent home to his family. When he gets there, he begins to discover webs of deceit in the life he thought he knew: a strange cat that shows up at his house, brothers that are keeping secrets from him, a grandfather that seems to be keeping things from him as well. Cassel sets out on a journey with his newfound feline friend to out con the cons in his life, Godfather style.
What I like about this book? The concept is original and melds two pretty different genres together in YA form. I love that it’s a mobster story with supernatural elements. And I love that the supernatural elements are fresh (not the typical vamps and weres, etc). Plus, the mobster characters (including Cassel himself) are all kind of anti-heroes. Every main character in the book is a liar and a thief. Many are murderers. Even Cassel lies and loves the thrill of the con. Although many of them are repugnant (don’t worry, not *too* repugnant!), you’re drawn into their lives. It has a Godfather meets Heist Society feel. The families in the book have the feel of the big mobster families like the Corleone’s. The final positive of the book? The love story is not played out and predictable –it definitely isn’t expected.
Drawbacks? Even though the characters were well done, they just didn’t stick with me for some reason. After reading Black’s Valiant, I felt like I thought about the characters for months. Not so much with Black Cat. One other drawback? A few of the plot points are expected kind of early on. I’m not sure that’s a total negative though, because Black uses this to good effect at times when the reader’s knowledge (or hunches) seem to outpace her main character’s knowledge.
Overall a good read. I give it four and a half stars!
Your thoughts? Have any of you read White Cat or a good YA read lately?
Oh, and one more thing… Thank you Khaula for my One Lovely Blog award. Yay!