Maggie Desmond-O'Brien's Reviews > Red Glove

Red Glove by Holly Black
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Feb 19, 12


If White Cat was last year's spring fling, then Red Glove and I are going all the way. Believe me when I say that I have never, ever read a YA series with a concept this original and yet mindbogglingly simple: the ability to work curses as a heritable condition. Black takes every ramification of this ability to its logical conclusion, from associations for worker rights (not unlike gay-straight alliances, inadvertent "outings" and all), to an ungloved hand being treated as more dangerous than a gun.

With its mobsters, constant double-crosses, and good old-fashioned gumshoe-style mysteries, this is the series that jumpstarted my recent addiction to film noir and especially neo-noir; Rian Johnson's Brick in particular. There's something terrifically thrilling about teens solving crimes, not in a campy Scooby Doo way, but in a deadly serious one. When characters feel like artful archetypes instead of three-dimensional people, when high school is a battleground and no one can be trusted, you end up with a pretty decent metaphor for non-curse-working teen years, too.

The relationship between our conflicted, double-crossing detective hero Cassel and our hard-as-nails femme fatale, Lila, stands out as one of the strongest parts of the book, mostly because it's content to lurk as driving background tension instead of stealing center stage. Every time you think the stakes couldn't possibly get any higher, they do, and I found myself literally in white-knuckled fists as I read (especially at the ending). It's difficult to watch two beloved characters come into their own and grow so far apart at the same time, and kudos to Black for not hitting a single false note between them.

We get to know the supporting characters better in this installment, too, and as I mentioned earlier, the noir archetypes are artful. Noir is the only genre I can think of where deeply nuanced and original character studies actually detract from the story instead of adding to it, and Black takes full advantage of this by giving us just enough conflict and depth to fall in love with the characters without ever overcomplicating things. There are an awful lot of tricky dames and feds with an agenda and back-stabbing mob bosses to be found here, and that's exactly as it should be.

I really can't say enough good about this series, and especially this book. Holly Black is a treasure, and I'm on tenterhooks waiting for Black Heart!
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Reading Progress

08/15/2011 page 123
38.0% "Only putting this down because my mom says it's dinnertime. I'm seriously considering skipping dinnertime."

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