I have never read a book by Holly Black because her books just never appealed to me for some reason. Now I'm kicking myself because White Cat is so good that it is easily one of my favorite young adult books. Cassel Sharpe is a great protagonist. He's smart, clever, and cynical, but at his core, he's a good person. Although the reader knows at the outset that he has committed a horrible crime, Holly Black manages to make him a sympathetic and relatable character. I really feel for him and the hard situation with his family. It's a horrible thing when you don't belong anywhere and you can't even trust the people closest to you. Cassel is a very different main character than is typical than most young adult novels.
The alternate universe in this book is utterly unique and detailed. I've never read another book quite like it. I really liked that the reader is just thrown into a world almost like the one we live, but slightly different, without any initial explanations. Then things begin to unfold and make sense as you go along. This device is very similar to many adult science fiction books. If you're looking for a paranormal romance story, you won't find it here. This world is flawed and gritty. It's a place where the endings aren't happy and the people are definitely not perfect. The stark realism makes this story hit me harder than most young adult novels out there. The story is suspenseful, breathtaking, and infuriating at points. Some plot twists were predictable, but others seemed to slap me across the face out of being so very unexpected. I really enjoyed trying to sort out the truth alongside Cassel.
I highly recommend White Cat to just about everyone and I am going to be one of the first to buy the next in the series. Before that, I need to go out and read the rest of her books as soon as possible.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins