May 17, 2012

Book Review: Black Heart by Holly Black

Black Heart by Holly Black
(Curse Workers, #3)
Release Date: April 3, 2012
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books; 296 pages

Cassel Sharpe knows he’s been used as an assassin, but he’s trying to put all that behind him. He’s trying to be good, even though he grew up in a family of con artists and cheating comes as easily as breathing to him. He’s trying to do the right thing, even though the girl he loves is inextricably connected with crime. And he’s trying to convince himself that working for the Feds is smart, even though he’s been raised to believe the government is the enemy.

But with a mother on the lam, the girl he loves about to take her place in the Mob, and new secrets coming to light, the line between what’s right and what’s wrong becomes increasingly blurred. When the Feds ask Cassel to do the one thing he said he would never do again, he needs to sort out what’s a con and what’s truth. In a dangerous game and with his life on the line, Cassel may have to make his biggest gamble yet—this time on love.

Black Heart is the 3rd and final book in the Curse Workers series. The ending of Red Glove absolutely blew my mind. I literally was on pins and needles waiting for Black Heart to come out. To me everything that could have gone wrong in Red Glove did go wrong. First to save himself and his brother Barren (who I personally thinks he should have let rot) Cassel has agreed to work for the FBI. Second, Lila has officially initiated into her father's crime association. So now she and Cassel are working on the opposite sides of the law. Third Cassel's mother has worked a powerful man who has been anti workers. This man is the governor of New Jersey, who has been trying to pass a law requiring citizens of New Jersey to be tested for hyperbathygammic. Cassel's mother worked him into giving a speech saying he was wrong to try to make the test mandatory. Patton later realizing that he's been worked, is out for blood and is searching for Cassel's mother.

I love the fact that these books take place in New Jersey because I am from New Jersey. So whenever things are mentioned I kinda squee on the inside when I recognize something. In fact Trenton is only 30 minutes away from me, and that's where majority of the settings in the series takes place.

It wouldn't be the Curse Workers series without our lead Cassel having to solve a mystery. Unfortunately the mystery he solves in this one takes a backburner to the major storylines of the book. In fact at times I forgot he was even trying to solve this case because it wasn't directly involved with him. There were many other things going on in the book that really had my focus. The number one being my wanting to strangle Barren. It's not often that I want a character dead, but after 3 books I really have had enough of Barren. His manipulations and his extreme lack of empathy really get to me. He's someone who is only out for himself. He never seemed to mourn Philip's death even though they seemingly were close. Yes I know his using his memory curse has caused him extreme memory loss, but he just doesn't seem to care. He still works people, even though he knows the consequences of it. He reminds me of a junkie, just craving for that next fix.

Cassel's mom is the same way. She's an emotion worker, and no matter the consequences she just can't stop working. I wonder how she survived when she was in jail, but I'm pretty sure she somehow maneuvered her way to cursing the guards or her cellmates. We learned a little bit about Cassel's father, who has been dead since before the first book. And I truly believe that he may have been the one person that Cassel's mother has truly loved. I do not believe that Cassel's mother loves her children. I think she may think she loves them, but deep down she doesn't. Just like Barren, everything about her is getting her next fix.

In this book I feel we got to see the real Lila. The curse that Cassel's mom gave her has finally worn off completely, and we find out what her true feelings for Cassel are. As I've stated before, I like Lila. And I like the Lila that's in Black Heart. Lila takes what she wants. She also doesn't seem to hesitate. She's just a real person. And she definitely wears the pants in hers and Cassel's relationship.

I feel like Cassel had the world on his shoulders in Black Heart. There were just so many things he had to handle. He's trying to keep his mother out of prison and alive. He's now involved with the FBI, and he's pretty sure that they are hiding things from him. He's trying to convince Lila that he really does love her, and has all along. And he's trying to make sure he doesn't get himself kicked out of school because he's sure he's on his last leg with his school's administrator. But somehow Cassel is strong enough to survive all of this. He definitely is a surivor.

The climax of this book made me smile. I just thought Cassel's plan was pure genius, and to see it all play out even with it's twist in turns had me so intrigued. I was on the way home from Philadelphia and I actually ignored my friend the entire time because I was on the last 80 or so pages of the book. I remember the sun was going down, and I was reading as fast as I can because I didn't want to be forced to stop reading because this book was just so good.

I know that this is the final book, but I feel like there can definitely be a fourth book in this series. Yes this book has an ending, and ending that did leave me satisfied. But once I put the book down the wheels in my head were turning about a possible fourth book, and if I were the author what I would do. I would love to see Cassel in college, if that is the route he has decided to take. I just would love to see what Cassel has decided to do in his adult life because there wasn't an epilogue. And there not being an epilogue is possibly a good thing. Because I've read some epilogues where I have wondered if the author of the book was the same person who wrote the epilogue. Because the epilogue and the books don't always click in my honest opinion.

I will miss Cassel immensely. He's one of the few male lead characters in a series that I love, but I am not in love with him. I just wish I could have a conversation with him, or be his friend. He just seems like someone that I would love to hang out with. Even though I know he's a con man, and could be scheming me at anytime, but I think that would be fun part of it.

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