I typically don't read young adult novels, which is why I had no intention of reading a second YA novel this year, but when Holly Black's White Cat showed up as a free advanced reader's copy, I decided to give it a shot.
Black's writing style immediately hooked me, and the way she built the world and main character in the opening pages was a testament to how she became a New York Times bestselling author, but by the twentieth page, I was ready to stop reading. It was too dark, all the characters too troubled.
Just a little bit more, I told myself. A few more pages, and then I'll set the book aside. A "little bit more" turned into fifty pages. Still, the story was darker than my usual tastes. Not horror, and not necessarily depressing, but all the characters (including the main character) are strongly flawed, twisting the storyline along a darker and darker path by the decisions they make. That night I told Cody I was going to stop reading it.
I picked it back up the next day and breezed through another fifty pages, finally resigning myself to the fact that I was loving the novel despite the dark undertones and I was not going to put the novel aside. In fact, I stayed up late that night reading it.
I'm absolutely in awe of how well Black crafts each character. Even secondary characters were well rounded—there wasn't a single person that went through a scene without some growth or at least a subtle crack in their two-dimensionality.
But the best thing, the very best moment was the very end of the novel. While I'd been amusing myself throughout the book by figuring out what was going to happen before it did (and by being right every time), the very ending caught me completely by surprise. It was an ending like nothing I would have ever written, and it was an ending that showed the touch of a true master. I literally gasped out loud when I read the final twist. Brilliant!