“Marks forget that whenever something’s too good to be true, that’s because it’s a con.”

Title: White Cat

Author: Holly Black

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Pages: 310

Days to read it: 2-3 days

Synopsis:

What would you do if you lived in a world where a simple brush of the fingers could make you fall in love, blast away your memories, re-create who you think you are…kill you? It gets worse, what if, in the middle of this place, the only thing protecting you is a glove, what if you’re the only child in a family of magic workers that’s magic-less? Cassel Sharpe’s the odd one out in his family of curseworking criminals. The funny thing is, he’s already committed the most unforgiveable of crimes: he killed someone. And the only thing he can remember about that night is that he thrilled in it. But the secret’s safe for now – the only actual witnesses to his bloody deed are his brothers, and they will always have his back, because they’re family, right? Cassel’s suspicions about the truth behind that grizzly incident begin to stir when sleepwalking rooftop death-strolls, dazed emaciated relations, a white cat and some pretty convincing dreams start his gears grinding. With Russian mafia workers, prep schools, old-school special effects, meddling mothers and con behind con behind con, Cassel’s got to keep his wits about him and watch his own back, ‘cause who knows what kind of person will be gloveless and dangerous when his back’s turned.

Impressions:

This is one of those books that hooked me with an excellent premise but, by the end of it, I still couldn’t really get into it. I can’t think of any particular reason why. Maybe it was because I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters. They were fairly likeable and interesting, but none of them stood out to me, not even Cassel.  I did feel sorry for Cassel’s various dilemmas, and he was pretty smart, thinking ahead of the con and everything, but something was still lacking. Argh, I can’t think of what exactly.  I just didn’t care as much about Cassel’s problems as I would have liked to. Also, there were moments in the story where I really wonder what’s going on in Cassel’s head, what’s driving his current actions? It’s like I only have access to pieces of Cassel’s life – with the important bits blanked out. It gets a little frustrating sometimes, since his filter’s the only way into the story. I suppose it was done on purpose to increase the intrigue value of the plot, but it wasn’t completely sold for me.

Another thing, I know this is the first book in likely another series, but I couldn’t shake off this feeling that Holly Black’s really excited about this world and she really wants you to fall as much in love with it as she is by telling you just how cool it is – listing out all the specs – but that’s just it – I won’t believe it until it’s proven to me. In fact, knowing my ornery personality I might just plain out ignore those lovely infodumps ‘cause I like to make up my own mind about things. Sometimes, I can’t be led there too obviously, I’ve got to be tricked and tripped into falling into storyworld! Not that she doesn’t prove how awesome her world is – she does a heck of job weaving out this pretty satisfying plot with the nice twist and cliff-hanger ending. But the fact that I know I’m the mark ruins the con, if you know what I mean?

Other little things. This book seems to be chock full of beautiful people, but I have no real idea how they look like, really. In fact, my imagination churns up the typical young mafia-wannabe dudes. Cassel’s basically probably a younger not-as-hot version of Barron, who’s likely a younger hotter version than Philip…etc. etc. That’s really about all I know. Perhaps I read too fast and missed out on the descriptions. Lily is nicely drawn out, but again, even though I respect her for being so tough and having those crazy family issues to deal with, I just didn’t really believe her. Normally, I don’t care so much about physical descriptions  because the characters win me over. But in this case, having a stock image pop up unconsciously doesn’t help much. Boo me.

One thing I did love about this book was the discussion about the power of memories and how they can really play a part in shaping who you think you are. I’ve always wondered how much of a part. For example, how malleable is a person’s intrinsic nature? Can you trick them into believing they’re not the kind of person they suspect they are?

Overall, this book is definitely worth the read if you want to be entertained with a great plot and some decent characters. I might recommend it to the tentative fantasy reader out there (are there any such readers anymore? Glamorous fantasy novels seem to be trendy thing to tote nowadays) but I won’t cry if someone forgets to return it to me after.

Excerpt:

“Lila was in my dream.” I force the words out. We never talk about Lila or the way the whole family protected me, after. How my mother wept into the fur collar of her sweater and hugged me and told me that even if I had done it, then she was sure that little Zacharov bitch deserved it, and she didn’t care what anyone said, I was still her baby. How there was something dark under my fingernails and I couldn’t seem to get it out. I tried with my own nails and then with a butter knife, pressing until I started to bleed. Until my blood washed away the other darkness.

So my own conscience is finally doing me in. It’s about time.

Rating: 4 HEX newbies

The next book, which I’ve prematurely bought a copy of, is Red Glove and continues with this story. I heard it was much better than the first book, so I shall get onto it.

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2 comments

  1. Oh! I love this premise! But the excerpt didn’t grab me at all. I can see what you mean about surfaceness; I bet if it was a movie the preview would be awesome but the movie wouldn’t.

  2. Ella – Oh yes, this definitely has blockbuster-hit potential! But I’m the kind of reader that usually likes more than less in terms of descriptions so maybe it was just the writing style that didn’t grab me.

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