Thursday, October 13, 2011

Red Glove review

Red Glove
by Holly Black
Margeret K. McElderry
April 2011

This book was amazing! Spoiler alert... it's rather impossible to discuss Red Glove without revealing some major plot points from the first book, so if you haven't read White Cat yet, I strongly advise readers to start there first.

17 year-old Cassel Sharpe struggles in his new role as a curseworker - a loosely organized crime family of people with paranormal abilities over others, activated by touch. Cassel has one of the rarest and most powerful abilities: shapeshifting. After years of having his memories manipulated by his brother, Cassel no longer has any idea who to trust. Worse yet, his well-meaning, but irresponsible mother has compulsed his longtime crush Lila into irrationally falling in love with him. Cassel is, at heart, a really good person. And that's why he finds his family's life of crime so very difficult. He knows if he gives in to what Lila "claims" she wants from him, he will essentially be guilty of rape... something he's definitely not prepared to live with. He has a fine offer of employment with one of the largest crime bosses where a life of luxury and ease, fast cars, beautiful women and fear-tinged admiration from his fellow criminals awaits him. But embracing such a lifestyle means that he'll be helping murderers escape justice. Cooperating with the Feds would seem to be an easy choice, except for the fact that they have a scarcely disguised contempt for him (as they do for all magical folk) and want him to rat out his own family. Plans are secretly being formed by the Feds to force the entire population to take a test, proving whether they are "cursed" or not and I enjoyed reading about a counter-movement rally where protesters shock people by taking off their gloves - which in this world is about as verboten as going around fully nude.

A fast moving plot with more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at makes for a thrilling read. I was reminded strongly of M.T. Anderson's Thirsty, a modern-day, love-gone-wrong story about a seemingly doomed teenage va
mpire trying to escape his fate. Cassel's trying to play the part of double-agent, loyal to none but himself, but it's a dangerous line to walk. Does he have the fortitude to carry out his elaborate deception on all sides? Will he get all the information (some of it locked in his own memory-addled brain) he needs in time? 

I loved Cassel's boarding school roommate's description of him... as a tiger who thought he was a housecat, someone who implicitly gives off an aura of sleek dangerousness without even realizing it. And Cassel's meeting with Lila's crime boss father was also fantastic, as Mr. Zacharov explains to him that it's one thing to dream of winning the lottery and being a millionaire, and it's quite another to actually suddenly actually be a billionaire. It's so much money, it's so much power, most people have no idea what to do with it, which is exactly the situation that Cassel finds himself in after tapping into his shapechanging abilities.

I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to mention that it crossed my mind, when Cassel turned himself into a cat to get out of a tricky situation, I feared that he'd be trapped as a cat until another curseworker could change him back. There's some kind of internal logic to how his power works so that wasn't the case.

The story gets a bit bogged down in details of an elaborate info-gathering caper towards the end of the book - these kind of "perfect crime" stories should work like clockwork... every person perfectly in place, every disguise used, every lie, simple but necessary. I felt it got a tad overly complicated towards the end, and even though Cassel is under incredible duress I was surprised at how many little (but ultimately very important) details he overlooks. It rachets up the tension, certainly, as his mission becomes more precarious with each error that he makes, but armchair quarterbacking, I lost respect for him the same way you might downgrade your opinion of an Olympic skater for not hitting a triple-lutz perfectly. So what will happen? Is Lila's love for Cassel real? Will he ever carve out a decent, semi-normal life for himself? Will he ever learn how to trust people again? Should he? I can't wait for the third book in this riveting series.

I purchased this book.

2 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you like these books, too. They're some of my favorite YA titles--I guess I just love a good heist story!

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  2. Me too. It's an interesting universe. Can't wait to see how things end up for Cassel.

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