When Holly Black's WHITE CAT arrived I must admit, I didn't know what to expect. I'm not one of those people who actually enjoys reading review copies. I don't enjoy the pressure of feeling like I have to like the book. Honestly, I expected it to be good.
When I read the synopsis of WHITE CAT on the official website, I figured this was no ordinary YA book. This was something I hadn't seen before--something smart, engaging and fun. I figured this was going to be exactly the kind of book that I was going to fall in love with. I was right.
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.
WHITE CAT reads like a thriller, family-saga, crime drama and coming of age YA all rolled into one. Cassel is the perfect main character even with all of his flaws and we love to cheer him on even as he gets into trouble, makes bad choices and shows us his imperfections.
The relationship between Cassel and his family is one of the more interesting I've seen in YA. Everyone has an angle. Mother, brothers and grandfather all there with some sort of influence--good or bad. I'm looking forward to seeing how things play out with the mother in the next book.
In WHITE CAT, nothing is truly as it seems and yet, everything has a wonderfully reasonable explanation--well--in the world of curse magic--that is. The world Black has built is completely compelling and alluring and only slightly unlike that of our own. It is those minor yet incredible differences that make Cassel's world so amazingly intriguing.
The book has a very cinematic flow from opening to ending. I could easily visualize every scene as I read. The intricacy of the world in which the characters lived was so well developed--that you almost forget that their existence is not normal.
I finished the book in a day and a half and am genuinely disappointed that I will have to wait so long for the sequel. WHITE CAT is the best book I've read this year. I challenge you to come up a book that is as original, evenly paced, well put together and solid overall in terms of a YA offering. It will appeal to boys and girls as well as those interested in both contemporary and paranormal content. With a little romance sprinkled in, it has something for everyone.
Simon and Schuster says the book works for ages fourteen and up. There is some some under age drinking but it's done well. I highly recommend WHITE CAT. I can't say enough great things about it. I may even be gushing.
Visit the WHITE CAT official website here.
Visit Holly Black's official website.
visit Simon and Schuster.
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