Thursday, October 13, 2011

Before the Blog (8): White Cat by Holly Black

Some of you already know this, but I've started a weekly meme called "Before the Blog". In short, it's a place to review books you read and loved before you began blogging about them. Basically, you choose a book each week, then answer the following three questions,and post your review.   Then you can add the name of your BtB book and author to the little Mr. Linky widget below, and voila!

Why did you choose this book? 
When did you read this book?
Who would you recommend this book to?

For more info, see my 1st BtB post by clicking this LINK.  The book I chose this week is...

White Cat by Holly Black

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Publication Date: May 4th, 2010

Why did you choose this book?  I am a big fan of Holly Black.  I can't honestly say that I have met a book of hers that I haven't liked.  I was intrigued by this because most of her books are centered around the fey, and this was such a departure.

When did you read this book?  January, 2011

Who would you recommend this book to? Anyone who likes Holly Black.  Middle School and High School boys who want a great YA book with a male protagonist.  Fans of organized crime dramas.

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.
Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

A lot of the earlier reviews of this book bashed the hell out of it, and I just don't get it.  I thought Holly Black did a superb job with this story.  I guess some people couldn't handle the departure from her usual subject matter (faery, paranormal), but I commend her for writing something so different from what she usually writes, and doing it so well.  That's difficult.  I was initially reluctant to read it because of all the bashing it got on Goodreads, and I know now that it would have been a mistake not to read it.  It is now my favorite series of Holly's.   It was so original, well thought out, well written, and suspenseful.  The story was wonderfully paced and I could not put it down.  Holly managed to keep the surprises coming and I never knew what to expect next; that rarely happens for me in books.  I loved that there was a male protagonist, and that he believed himself to be somewhat of an outcast.  I also liked the whole crime family element.  It was like The Godfather with magic.  I happen to like those kinds of books/films/TV shows (I was a religious The Sopranos watcher, and Goodfellas is one of my all-time favorite movies.), so this was right up my alley.  I think a combination of these facts (male protag/outcast, crime family, magic) would make this book very appealing to teen males, and that is important when so much popular YA is geared toward girls. (Not to say that girls would not love it to, because they would- and do!)  I also liked the subtle questions the story raised; family duty vs. ethics, love vs. what's right, etc.; I think anyone reading this would ponder these things.  I, personally, still haven't come to many conclusions on that end- everything is very gray, which makes this book all the more enticing.

My only gripe at the time of reading was the ending.  I don't want to spoil by saying what made me so mad, but I was pissed at how it was left dangling.  I know it was for the purposes of enticing me into reading book #2 (Red Glove), and it worked, but I was still pissy because I was SO invested in the story and had to wait three more months until its release.  After reading Red Glove, all is forgiven because I liked it even better, but at that time, Holly Black was not my favorite person.

Overall, I really adored this book, and it's successor (Red Glove) as well.  I actually listened to Red Glove on audio, and it was fantastically done by Jesse Eisenberg.  He also did this book, so if you like the audio format, do yourself a favor and give both books a listen rather than a read.  He really brings the character of Cassel Sharpe to life.  I very anxiously await Black Heart, which is set to release April 3rd, 2012.

My Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  The School Library Journal reviewer says grades 9 and up, but I disagree.  I would put this more like grades 7 and up.  There is some mild sexual content, language, crime, and a bunch of violence, but if it were a movie, I don't think it would get higher than a PG-13 rating.  I would let my 12 year old read this and know that he/she would enjoy it and have things to ponder while doing so. (ages 12+)

**Don't forget to enter my AWESOME giveaway of an audio copy of the AMAZING All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin HERE!**


  1. This one does sound like a good book and I'm always looking for something to interest my middle grade son. He may still be a bit young for the content, but it is something to keep in mind for the next few years, after I give it a pre-read.

  2. This meme is a great idea. I have often thought about doing this (not the meme but the review of a book I read before)


  3. It's a pity you haven't continued with the meme. Anyway, I liked it and I wrote a book review following how you did it on my blog.


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