Tag Archives: Holly Black

White Cat by Holly Black

I know I’ve been gone for a while, but I loved this next book SO MUCH that I HAD to write something about it.

From Goodreads.com

Cover of White Cat by Holly BlackCassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty–he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas–and a plan to con the conmen.

I first became acquainted with Holly Black’s work in the anthologies Geektastic and Zombies vs Unicorns. I enjoyed her contributions enough that I decided to check out some of her full-length work. I put White Cat–the first book in the Curse Workers series–on my “to-read” list with the intent to check it out soon. Instead, the book occupied a space on my “to-read” shelf for almost two years. My lack of interest in the cover lead me to skip over this book repeatedly when looking for a new read. It did not help that this book was also part of an incomplete trilogy. Luckily, Twitter convinced me it was time to finally purchase this book.

Last week I noticed several tweets on my timeline mentioning that the eBook of White Cat by Holly Black was now $2.99. I remembered previously wanting to read this book, so I followed the link to the Amazon page. I noticed the great new cover right away. That combined with the low price were enough to convince me to finally check out the sample of this story.

I started reading the sample while on an hour-and-a-half car ride. By the time I got to my destination, I had purchased the whole novel and had a serious case of queasy stomach from reading in the car. I was officially hooked.

The major reason I enjoyed White Cat was it was so different from most of the stories I have read recently. For starters, it was an alternate universe “AU” novel. This is a nice change from the dystopian novel trend that YA has recently experienced. As I was familiar with the overall setting of the story, the author did not have to waste time creating it for me. She was able to jump into the narration while still carefully interweaving details of the alternate universe.

Another difference is how the characters were defined in the story. In most stories, it is easy to figure out who is “good” or “bad.” The distinction is not as apparent in this case. Characters have their own intentions which don’t always align with the protagonist, creating a conflict that is representative of relationships. This grabbed my interest and kept me reading.

Review: Black was able to tell a complex story that left me satisfied with the end of the first book, while leaving plenty of questions for the following two stories in the trilogy. Upon completing White Cat I had to resist purchasing the follow-up story–Red Glove–immediately. I highly recommend this book.

Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier

I loved Geektastic; a YA anthology containing stories from some of my favorite authors. I was excited to check out Zombies vs. Unicorns as it contained short stories by many of the same authors. I hoped that I would enjoy this book as much as Geektastic.

From goodreads.com

Zombies vs. Unicorns book coverIt’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths—for good and evil—of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

I have found reading anthologies to bring mixed results. I generally like the stories by authors I know and struggle through the rest. Sometimes I’ll luck out and find a marvelous story by an author I’d not previously read. This often leads to the discovery of some great new books. When this does not happen, I just end up feeling like I bought a book to only enjoy 25% of it.

Short stories–unlike their longer counterparts–are often unable to focus on anything other than the main plot. Anthologies usually focus on one main plot. If it is a theme I am only slightly interested in, it can lead to the book feeling unnecessarily long. When this happens I find myself having to take a break in between stories in order to finish the book. This is another negative I sometimes find when reading anthologies.

This book suffers a bit from both of these negatives. The main issue I had was that I will never be “Team Zombie.” I realized right after I ordered this book that I dislike most things zombie. Why then did I decide to read a book where I hated the topic of 50% of the book? I hoped that some of my favorite YA authors would be able to change my mind. Some authors were able to write stories about zombies that I enjoyed. For the most part, though, I struggled to get through these pages. Eventually I also started to tire of the “Team Unicorn” stories. The theme of this book was not enough to hold my interest. I found myself taking long breaks between the stories. It took me so long to finish this book that my husband actually made a comment about it.

That being said, there were a few great stories in this book. I found the short story by Maureen Johnson to be fantastic. I thought it might even be her best work that I have read to date. I think the darker topic really allowed her to branch out in terms of story-telling. The result was something much more interesting than her usual “girl meets boy” story. I also enjoyed the tales by two of my favorite authors; Meg Cabot and Scott Westerfeld. A story by an author I had not previously read–Libba Bray–inspired me to add some of her books to my “to-read” shelf.

Review: I hesitate to give this book a rating. I did not find much of the book enjoyable due to the fact it was about a topic I don’t really like. This is not the book’s fault. It clearly states it is about zombies, and yet I still decided to read it. I do feel many of my fellow YA fans would read this book and rate it much higher than I have as they would like the topic subject matter. I do recommend this book as there are some great submissions from some of my favorite YA authors. I would suggest this book as a “borrow” instead of a buy.