April 9th, 2011
|09:50 pm - Black & White|
I read blackholly 's Tithe my senior year in high school, when it was her only book out (I think). I wasn't reading a lot of YA at that time; I basically read a lot of YA from 2nd through, like, 7th grade, and then gave it up for my teen years, and picked it back up again sometime in college. (There were exceptions, like half-assedly keeping up with tammypierce 's Protector of the Small series, and, of course Twilight. Before it was popular.) I was all reading grown-up books then, like The Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles, which I think may have done more to scare me off sex for the next ten years than all the Catholic dogma in the world ever could. Teen fiction, particularly "realistic" or "urban fantasy" teen fiction, was kind of not my thing, mostly because my teen years were so amazingly boring that I found all the "realistic" stuff and the "urban" part of "urban fantasy" to be usually pretty unrelatable. I was okay with Bella Swan, because her life outside of the vampires-and-werewolves stuff IS fantasically quiet--all she does is cook, go to school, and read nineteenth-century-novels. No sex, drugs, or rock and roll. Not even underage drinking! To me at seventeen, this boringness read as "not trying tediously hard to be gritty, and leaving the ridiculous fantasy to the fantasy part of the story where it belongs." Yeah, I was an overprivileged nerd.
This is all a longwinded way of saying that I read Tithe at probably the WORST possible time for me to read it. As such, I liked about 99% of it, fixated on the 1% I didn't like, and never quite got around to reading the sequels even though I told everybody I would.
I decided to give Holly Black another try, since in the past six years or so she seems to have become the Queen Supreme of YA fantasy, and she just seems really cool, and I wanted to like her, so that was getting weird. So I picked up the first book in her most recent series instead. The Curse Workers series consists of White Cat, which is the one I just read, and Red Glove, which was apparently released like four days ago.
White Cat was FANTASTIC. It's an AU rather than urban fantasy, in a world where certain people have specific types of magical gifts that allow them to influence other people in certain ways (depending on what their gift is) by touching them with their hands. Doing this magic is illegal in the U.S., leading, predictably, to a network of incredibly powerful "curse worker" crime families. Everybody wears gloves all the time, and most people wear amulets against the different types of curse work, just in case. The main character is Cassel Sharpe, the only non-worker in a family full of curse workers/con artists who are sort of allied with one of the most powerful worker crime syndicates. Cassel murdered his best friend Lila, the daughter of the head of the crime family, three years before the beginning of the story. He gets suspended from school for sleepwalking, and then things start to get weird. The enormity and complexity of the con Cassel begins to unravel is as such that I can't even really start telling you any more of the plot than that.
This book does three major things really well, and which frequently don't go together. The worldbuilding is fabulous--believable, consistent, just different enough from ours to be super intriguing, but similar enough that it doesn't confuse you or distract you from the other things. The characterization is funny and sympathetic (unless it's not supposed to be), dealing with a lot of messy familial issues without becoming cliche. And the plot is deliciously plotty, like an entire season of Castle combined into one story. With magic. A good con plot is just freakin' unbeatable, and this is a VERY good con plot. It not only has a billion different layers of double-crossing involved, it even sometimes has cons about pulling cons! And the magic just makes everything that much more complicated to figure out.
Anyway, I recommend this HIGHLY, and I will probably go be buying the sequel pretty soon, although I will piss and moan about hardcovers when I do. I should also revisit the Tithe series, and be non-whiny this time, because FAIRIES.
Current Mood: cheerful
I liked White Cat, but I'm' not sure how much I like her writing male protagonists. They don't seem believable to me. I'm not sure if I want to read Red Glove or not, but I probably will.
Man, I am so behind on responding to comments. o.O
I will need to reread Tithe and reassess Holly Black's grasp of female characters, because I found Cassel a lot more believable than I remember finding that protagonist, but it may have just been because (a) the thing about her being "Asian and blonde" set off my Mary Sue alarms and (b) I was like 17 when I read it and was probably judging her believability strictly by her similarity to myself.
Well I read Red Glove and liked it. I always preferred Valiant, probably just because I found her more similar to myself. Faye is..not. I guess Cassel is not like a lot of guys I've known so it makes it hard for me to accept him.
I think I need to go on a really big book-buying spree as soon as I get paid.
Or possibly find a library with a good YA section. I feel like I need to read ALL the Holly Black books RIGHT NOW so I can have an intelligent conversation about them.
Is the Red Glove plot as complicated? Because that would be awesome.
Hmmm..I feel like it went by even faster, plot resolution is just as sudden (she seems to like that) as in the first. I would say yes, it's pretty complicated. More mushy romance of course.