Monday, April 9, 2012

Not So Much An Epic Reading List Update: Black Heart

It feels a little weird to be talking about a book without putting the list up. Should I call Black Heart book 5.5? Anyway...

Black Heart. Black Heart. Black Heart.

I put Black Heart off until this weekend because I needed to wait until after Easter. Working in a chocolate store during Easter is exhausting. I wanted to be ready for it.

There is no way I could have been ready for it. I mean how could anyone have been ready for Holly Black's twists and turns?


I've been a Holly Black fan since I first stumbled upon Tithe in, oh gods, 8th or 9th grade. I have never been disappointed by her work. Never once. The Curse Workers admittedly took a mental shift for me when I started it. Up until that point my brain worked primarily on Holly Black = Faeries mode.  But I fell fast and hard once the shift occurred. It's a wonderful idea and is executed with such wit and deftness that it's never dull.

Like the other books in the series, Black Heart goes through most of the book setting up the action of the last 70 or so pages. It works. This sounds like a typical set up. Rising action, etc. But in a story with so many different plots going at once usually they each hit a resolution at a different time. Not so with Black Heart, everything happens at once and it works so well. It's not overwhelming and it easily could be. Instead it's fast paced and breath taking.

Surprise, surprise. I love Cassel. I sometimes forget how much I love him when I'm not reading the books. That's not a bad thing, I just fall in love with him all over again every time. It's the sarcasm and the wit. I'm always caught by the sarcasm and the wit. His ability to think on his feet amazes me. Realistically, he could never be any less. But damn, his improvisational skills. I mean, really.

I find him fascinating because with his circumstances he's constantly learning who he is in a way that plays off far more dynamic than in other books. He's always learning about people. I love that everything he learns is easily applied to people in general. If it only applied to criminals (swindlers, if you will) the reader could easily feel excluded from the lesson. He learns that no one is all good and no one is all bad. People always think what they're doing is right. Whether because they're saving someone, or they really believe it.

I can't even tell you how many Life Lessons Learned From Books I took from Black Heart. Seriously, I haven't counted them but there are a lot. Cassel just feel so passionately and strongly. His love for Lila, his responsibility for his family, his duty to workers, he desire to be better. It's impossible not to feel some of it too. It's masterful.

Mrs. Black is a master at twists and turns. Just when I think I've figured something out I learn that I'm wrong. My conclusion was a quickly dismissed idea of Cassel's. Or I realize that my conclusion is such a small a minute detail of Cassel's plan that I'm blown away by the depth. I never see the whole picture before hand and I love that.

One of my favorite things about Black Heart is that it is not neatly packaged. It ends with only a few snarls undone. It could easily slip back into disaster and it's likely that it will. Cassel's mom is never going to stop swindling people. Barron will never stop causing trouble. Lila is never going to be anything less than Lila. Cassel will always stumble into trouble and wit his way out. No one is redeemed and that works for this.

What Cassel finds in the lock box is so much better than the resurrection diamond. He finds that little bit of past he had been looking for. But that's not who he is. Also, I flat out laughed at his little interlude with Barron.

The most startling of these still-snarled threads is the Danica and Barron thread. Barron's flippant attitude when dealing with Cassel made it easy to dismiss why he was with her. I was equally as struck by the picture as Cassel. And his tearing it up left me torn. We'll never know what was really there and I think I'm okay with that. It was hard to see Cassel potentially sentence two people he cares about to being less happy than they could for his own aims. I was a little unsettled by that. But then, we all act out of selfishness.

Typically when a series has this much violence and bloodshed it comes off unrealistic when none of our main characters die. But they're not really partaking in hand-to-hand combat. It's really underhanded. Plus, they're all clever. It would have felt more unrealistic if one of them had gotten randomly shanked on the street. That's not to say there wasn't blood. They all had their fair share of injuries. No one gets away unscathed.

This was a fantastic end of a series book. I know some people will be put-off by the end since they weren't handed everything in a nice box with a bow but it worked for me. There was no way to close end this series without offing everyone. We are left with questions, yes but they're good ones (think of it this way, it's a fan fiction writers dream). It is another brilliant installment to a brilliant series. I don't even have any cons to give you.

I even forgot all about the cover change when I got it. I was just so excited. As disappointed as I was, it really doesn't matter.

Overall: Beyond Epic.

Did any of you read it? What did you think of the snarls?

So, next we get back in gear and back into the list with Tamora Pierce's Squire.


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