6.17.2013

Flash Reviews: White Cat//Red Glove

Clever as the devil,
and twice as pretty.


White Cat by Holly Black
Publishing Date: May 4, 2010
Publisher: McElderry
# of pages: 320
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

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 criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, 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.
Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself 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. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Even with several reads the world building in this book still holds up and is still some of the best I've ever read. What's really nice about White Cat is that it introduces its world and characters without bogging you down with meaningless piles of text block. It's all just as cleverly introduced as the main character, Cassel. It doesn't take long to pick up the syntax of the world or how it works, easily sucking you in while astounding you with all the backdoors Cassel manages to find and/or create.
The ending was wrapped up way too quickly and things happened a little too conveniently for my taste, feeling like Holly Black was just running out of time and needed to just quickly wrap things up. That's a lot what it felt like, the story just ran out of time.
A good read if you want something for a one-sit read and feel clever enough to untangle shady characters with shady motivations.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Changing is what people do
when they have no options left.

Red Glove by Holly Black

Publishing Date: April 5, 2011
Publisher: McElderry
# of pages: 325
Genre: Urban Fantasy


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 criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, 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.
Cassel has carefully built up a facade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his facade starts to crumble when he finds himself 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. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he must unravel his past and his memories. To find out the truth, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

With how much I enjoyed the first, I was really looking forward to this. But like anything else, the hype you set up for yourself usually makes it end in disappointment. There was a strong focus on romance this time around with Lila re-entering the picture but alas! She has been worked so the love is not real. It was really bothersome to see the romance get in the way of world and plot development. This time around, the curse workers world focuses a lot more on rights with riots in the streets and protest. That to me was so much more interesting than the whole Cassel/Lila fiasco. Mostly because at the end of it all, I have no idea where Lila stands. I don't know if she actually cares for Cassel, if she actually did care for him, if she really wants to be a part of her father's "business." Ambiguity abound. The world that Holly Black has crafted was what drew me in the first place; the world is a character of its own and it got shoved aside from all the ~drama~. 
Still, Cassel remains to be as crafty as always, even if his loyalty does change in the book. His narrative remains to be enjoyable. How this all gets wrapped up? I have no idea! I think the plot is starting to really unwind and faces the threat of going nowhere in a world that offers so much.

-----------------------------------------------------------

And that's it for these reviews. I'll probably get around to finishing the third and last book in this series this summer. If you guys have read it, let me know how it is! And leave me any thoughts you have on these two books. 

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

"Listen, the truth is, nothing is guaranteed."

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Publishing Date: May 11, 2004
Publisher: Penguin
# of pages: 374
Genre: Contemporary

A long, hot summer...
That's what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two fo them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy's father.
But sometimes unexpected things can happen--things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister's project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl's world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, is it really better to be safe than sorry? 

After like two years of putting I hold, I HAVE FINALLY FINISHED.

It wasn't because it was bad I took so long, I was just never in the mood. But man, once I was, I stayed up pretty late to read and the first I thing I did this morning was to sit my ass down and finish this book.
It's your a-typical Sarah Dessen read. Good, complex characters; a sa-woon worthy love interest (see what I did thar?); and a dictator mom. Okay, the last I'm not sure if it's a typical trope her in novels but goddammit, it's annoying.
Every scene Macy's mom was in, I could literally feel myself get a headache. I just couldn't deal with it. What is it with YA contemp novels + dictator moms? Or overworking moms? It's heartbreaking, is what it is. I realize they're there for "conflict" and "character development" but I think Rory Gilmore has shown you can have an awesome, supporting mom and still have lots of "conflict" and "character development." (If if some of those developments didn't make sense. Seriously, the DAR, Rory?) I would've liked to have seen a more fuller development for Macy's mom and for Macy to actually tell her mom what's up in her life but I suppose that would've been out-of-character for Macy (at the time). Grief, all the various degrees of it, is difficult to deal with but suppressing it never works and I just find it a little hard to believe that Macy's mom wouldn't be concerned at all Macy had zero social life and was just so insanely strict.

Easily, the best part of this novel was Macy + Wes's romantic chemistry and development. THEY'RE ARE SO ADORABLE TOGETHER, I CAN'T. Nearly every scene with them together was just so sweet, so electric, and just so damn adorable. It wasn't instant romance either which is awesome. The thing that makes it work so well is it felt so natural. The pacing of it, the dialogue, the interaction between the two. You really got to see Macy and Wes's character not just when they played Truth but when they just talked to each other. And really, Sarah Dessen, you had to write such an adorable, sa-woon worthy lead? Wes is everything and more.

My other favorite thing in this book is the secondary characters. Oh secondary characters, how you always manage to win my heart. The group chemistry between the Wish Catering Crew is phenomenal. They mesh so well together, play off one another, and just really fun to read. These are some crazy developed characters with full personalities and hopes and goals. Can we please get some short stories or a series just around the Wish Catering Crew and their chaotic adventures? Because I would read those forever.

Now contemporary kinda of demands you have at least one major introspective chain of thought (I mean, they're usually all about change and life, right?) but wow this book had A LOT. Like every other chapter, Macy would come to this conclusion about life or one of the characters would deliver "the life monologue" and it was just a lot. I feel like some of those could've been cut out and it would've have majorly impacted the book or they could've been condensed because some of them I swear had the same message. It just hit the same points over and over again making it tiresome to read.
And this is a really small nitpick but wow adverbs. Lots of them. Adverbs that could've been changed to verbs! Also there are mishaps in the editing department. Towards the end (huh how funny) there were a few sentence and grammar mistakes and unfinished sentences? The editing department is human, makes mistakes, I know but some of those were pretty big.

This is a nice contemporary read that is repetitive but really, read it for the romance because W O W. It really is all sorts of adorable that guarantees to make you melt.