in on the writing conspiracy with Maureen Johnson, Libba Bray, and Robin Wasserman, if her Curse Workers series is any indication. I have now listened to the first two books in the series White Cat and Red Glove and am half-way finished with Black Heart. I am enjoying them a great deal, but they do not align with the particulars of my theory. One of the things I like best about them is the reader. The three books are read by Jesse Eisenberg of The Social Network fame. In fact, he recorded the first book just before the movie was released. Despite his new-found success he has continued to read the other two books in the series, for which I am grateful. He has a very nice voice and does an excellent job of emoting without going over the top. Between the car and the gym I listen to many books and am planning a post about the topic, so keep a look out for it.
One of the elements I like best about the series is how the fantasy is simply a part of the world as the characters know it. I feel it takes a skilled writer to give out special powers as if they are an accepted part of our world. The story is set here and now and some people are just born with abilities. There
are 7 different types of workers: luck, emotion, physical, dream, death, transformation, and memory. Some types are more rare than others. The main character comes from a family of workers, but he is not one, much to his embarrassment though working is illegal and association with organized crime. But make no mistake about it, Cassell is not a worker, but he is certainly a criminal. Cassell is the youngest of three boys. His brother Philip is a physical worker, his brother Baron a memory worker, his mother
is an emotion worker, and his grandfather is a death worker. All together they are skilled grifters, often mixed up in some pretty ugly stuff. Through it all, Cassell is trying to finish high school and forget the girl he loved....and killed three years ago. I will be sad to reach the end of the third book, but I am anxious to see what happens to the family.
Not too long ago, Maureen Johnson tweeted that pre-ordering the second book in her Shades of London series, The Madness Underneath would result in a signed book plate for the book as well as other mysterious prizes. I went ahead because the "mysterious prizes" intrigued me and because I do like to support independent book shops when possible. We have a pretty good one in Norfolk, Prince Books, but I am not always able to get there regularly and as much as my heart wants to buy from independents, my wallet does not always agree. Anyway, I finished the book yesterday, and while I liked it, it suffered seriously from second book in the
series-itis. The story began slowly, which does not bother me much, but does often make things difficult for actual teen readers who can be impatient. However, I was two-thirds of the way through the book and realized nothing really BIG had happened. In fact outside of two pretty mundane murders this story is mostly about Rory and how she is settling into her new powers. Again, this is not really a problem for me, but I read this book expecting a fright level equivalent to that in The Name of the Star, which creeped the bejeepers out of me. Had I known what to expect I would not have been so disappointed, but I did not even have to turn all the lights on in the house for this one. Oh well, despite not being what I expected the book was an excellent lead-up to what I hope will be a creep filled third installment.
On a side note, I really appreciate Johnson's ability to write a mature, high-level text without gratuitous cursing or sex. It makes her books perfect for my middle school readers who long to be challenge, but who are not emotionally mature enough for the other stuff yet. Woohoo Maureen Johnson!