Published May 4th 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry
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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.
[Contains partial spoilers. I assume most people have read this book that want to, but just in case.] The characters in White Cat aren't like other characters. The book itself isn't like other books. And I think I finally understand why people rave about this series.
Holly Black does an amazing job at capturing the male voice. Not once did Cassel's narration sound like it was coming from a girl, nor did it ever sound like Holly Black was trying too hard to make him sound like a guy.
Cassel lives in a world full of deceit. At first, all he's trying to do is fit in and pretend he's not a worker, when really, he's one of the best conmen in the book. While sometimes I felt detached from his narration, as a character, I loved him. He's smart. Conniving. And when he gets betrayed, he wants revenge. I love how determined he is and how he changes throughout the book. In the beginning, it almost seemed like Cassel wasn't really alive. But then he gets involved in the mystery of Lila and his family and suddenly he has real emotions. (That's the way I saw it, anyway.)
All of the secondary characters were just as complex, in their own way. Especially Cassel's family. I can't think of a single thing I disliked about any of them.
Until we get to Lila. Logically, I can understand why she acts the way she acts, considering how she's been living for the past few years. But in reality, I was annoyed by how cold she acted and how manipulative she seemed when it comes to Cassel. Something about the way she's portrayed just bugged me.
While some of the time the plot had me going "What the eff is going on?" I absolutely loved it. The world Holly Black has created is so unique and there are so many plot twists that surprised me and at the same time, completely made sense. The idea of blowback is one of my favorite aspects of this book - the idea that using these unnatural powers on others also has an effect on you.
Overall: It's like the mob with supernatural powers. With a perfect male narration, Holly Black brings both her characters and her plot to life. The entire novel is full of twists and turns that continuously surprised me. 4 stars.