Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Review: The Curse Workers Series by Holly Black

White Cat is the first book in the The Curse Workers series about Cassel Sharpe, written by Holly Black. In this alternate world story, workers are rare people with magical abilities that sometimes run in families. Using their abilities requires skin contact and is illegal, which is why most workers are part of crime families. About 60% of the population are luck workers, while other skills, such as death working, emotional manipulation, memory manipulation are less common. The rarest worker is one who can change the shape of things. [wiki]

Author: Holly Black
Add It: Goodreads
Series: Curse Workers (#1, #2 & #3)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

I was late to the Curse Workers series and read all three of the books in a hurry; read them in such a hurry in fact that I raced through them before I wrote reviews for any of them. So here are three mini reviews of each book and my final thoughts of the series as a whole. Whether or not this contains spoilers depends on how sensitive you are to them. I don’t reveal anything big, aside from perhaps something that is very major in White Cat, but was something I actually knew of before I started reading the book and didn’t mind knowing. Proceed at your own risk through the individual reviews, or once you've read the mini White Cat review, skip down to the series review which is definitely spoiler free.

White Cat – White Cat is without a doubt my favorite book of the series. I am pretty sure that you gain 100 cool points just by reading it. I mean, crime workers who wear fancy gloves, what’s more classy than that? Mafia families! Magic! Betrayal! Intrigue! The entire book has a very noir vibe that I have yet to see anywhere else in the YA genre. Since this book was the first in the series it was all very fresh and exciting. I loved the story of the white cat. I loved Cassel’s occasionally snarky narrative. I couldn’t put it down.

Red Glove – In comparison with its counterparts Red Glove was somewhat of a disappointment. It wasn’t bad compared to other books, but something was missing, and it didn’t live up to the expectations set by the first book. What is most memorable about this book to me was the way Cassel handled the situation with Lila despite his feelings for her.

Black Heart – I enjoyed Black Heart a lot and was happy to see the series pick back up after Red Glove. You never knew what was going to happen next because anything and everything can happen in this world that Black created. Lila particularly came into her own in this book and started to be an even more interesting character. Nothing cooler than a lady crime boss in training, right? The first book in the series still holds a slide edge over Black Heart for me, perhaps because it was all so fresh and original, but my significant other who read the series with me said this book was his personal favorite, and he’s a very picky reader.

Series: This series is just lots of fun. I place a high value on originality and anything that is not trying to be the Next Something Else and this series offers just that. I also like that the main protagonist is a boy. I’ve always gravitated toward books with girl narrators, but Cassel’s voice was snarky and sarcastic and so interesting, it inspired me to make an effort to seek out more male driven narratives.

If you’re looking for lots of entertainment and something quick, easy, and imaginative then give this series a try. I’ve heard that the audiobooks are great and are narrated by Jesse Eisenberg, so if audiobooks are your thing, they might be worth checking out instead of the other formats.

My personal average rating for the series:


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