Friday, May 28, 2010

This book made me feel.

White Cat (The Curseworkers #1) by Holly Black

Published May 2010 by Margaret K. McElderry
310 pgs, $12.05 (list price on amazon)

White Cat takes place in an alternate reality where 1/100 of all Americans are curseworkers who can perform a certain kind of magic. "Working" - as this magic is called - is illegal in the US and most parts of the world, but widely used and available through the black market. Curseworking is also relatively hereditary, creating mafia-like families. White Cat is a story of one of those families. A story of deception, childhood love gone awry, and most of all, this is a story about the art of the con.

So, I didn't actually read this book. I listened on CD. My first ever audiobook! It's a different experience, and I feel oddly disqualified to talk about the finer parts of writing (ha), but I will say that I enjoyed it IMMENSELY. I mean, the premise is something we all dream about, right? The world is highly imaginative, and yet eerily similar to our own society. I laughed out loud, audibly gasped, and cursed at characters while listening in the car. This book evoked emotion in me, (especially at the end, but I'm not giving anything away ;)) and only the best books will do that. I had high expectations when I began this, and all were met.

Sci-fi/fantasy needs a considerable amount of backstory, especially when the alternate world has complicated rules. Black masterfully gives us backstory in slow, manageable chunks, and not annoyingly so. She doesn't dump explanation on you all at once at the beginning. In fact, readers are left clueless through most of the first chapter. My one and only complaint is that some of the "mini-mysteries", if you will, are very easy to figure out. Maybe it was just because I listened to an audiobook and couldn't go at my own pace, but it was frustrating to hear the protag mentally try to work something out in minutes that I figured out in seconds.

But this is not to say Black doesn't give us any surprises in the book, because there are plenty. READ IT!!

Plot Development - 9
Character Development - 7
Depth - 6
Voice - 7
Average Rating - 7.25


  1. Its hard to guage the writing with an audiobook. Frequently the narrator imposes their rhythms in a way that is at cross-purposes with the author's. And some readers are so s-l-o-w. I abandon a lot of audiobooks based on annoying readers, but when I come across a good one, it's really a treat.

  2. I have no qualms with this audibook, though the reader, Jesse Eisenberg, sounds a lot like Michael Cera. Written in first person, it's just not the voice I would have picked for the protag. Maybe something a bit more manly?

    Anyways, the audiobook was a great way help pass a umpteen-hour solo road trip, but I do wish I had read it instead of listened for all the reasons you listed.