White Cat – Holly Black

12 Dec

Whoa! This book is GOOD, yo. Because my memory is terrible, I can’t remember why I decided to pick White Cat by Holly Black up (I am 98.3% sure that I read a review on a blog), but I’m so glad I did. I haven’t read a YA novel in a while – a year or two ago I read them almost exclusively for months at a time. White Cat starts off at 90 mph and didn’t stop til the very end. (And on a side note, this is why I love getting books from the library – on the first page of the book was a big pink post-it note that just said “paradox?” Another time, I checked out a random book and there was a post-it in the middle that said something like “don’t fight the water, it flows upstream.” People are weird and I love it.)

White Cat follows the story of Cassel Sharpe, con man, private school student, and member of a family of curse workers. Cassel is the only member of his family who does not have the ability to “work” people with powers that let them change your emotions, curse your luck, or even inflict physical harm. This theme reminded me a bit of the first season of True Blood, where vampires were just beginning to come out into the open and demand rights. Curse workers, similarly, are feared and even hated and politicians are working on legislation that would expose or identify them.

It’s clear from the first page that Cassel is not doing all right – he’s just woken up, nearly naked, on the roof of his dormitory, and is in serious danger of falling to his death. Clearly, he’s been sleepwalking again, an old habit of his. Holly Black manages to instill such a level of anxiety and stress throughout the book that I was honestly concerned for Cassel’s emotional well-being. Homeboy hardly sleeps, he barely eats (and when he does, it’s coffee and chocolate – at least he has good taste), and his family is insistent on “protecting” him from their curse work, leaving him in the dark about what’s going on around him. All he knows is there is a white cat following him around, and three years ago, he murdered Lila, his best friend.

Exciting, yes? I’m telling you, I read this one right quick. You feel for Cassel because he’s afraid of himself and what he did to his best friend, so he spends an inordinate amount of time pretending to be a regular guy. His ability to maintain actual relationships with anyone outside his family is seriously stunted, though, because of all his pretending, and meanwhile his family holds him at arm’s length. I have to admit, I saw the betrayal coming from pretty early on, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment at all. Me gusta.

2 Responses to “White Cat – Holly Black”

  1. Rebecca December 19, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    It was the very end that got me. One of those gasping, NOOOO moments. It both made me want to rush to grab the next book and abandon the series because it was too emotionally draining. So far, I haven’t hunted up the second book.

    • Amanda December 19, 2011 at 8:19 am #

      I know, right? She had some awesome twists and turns in there. I’m stalking the next book as we speak – I’ll let you know if it packs as much of an emotional wallop.

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