I really liked this one. It was just so original. I have a hard time with magic realism because I feel like there's usually too much or not enough magic, but this had the perfect balance.
In this, there's a magic system where certain people ('workers') have powers that they use by touching others with their bare hands. Most workers used their powers for criminal activity, so they get a bad rep. Cassell is the only one in his family who isn't a worker. His mom, dad, grandpa, and brothers are all workers. Each person gets one type of power: his mom is an emotional worker who can make someone fall in love in one touch, his grandfather can kill people with a touch, his brother can break peoples' bones with one touch, etc. One downfall of the powers: every time you use them, you get some sort of blowback. You try to make someone have good luck? You'll have good luck in return. Any time his grandfather kills someone with his powers, one of his fingers decays.
The book starts with Cassell sleepwalking up to the roof of his school. He has no idea how or why he's up there, and he realizes that seems to be a recurring theme in his life. Oh, and he killed his best friend Lila when they were younger.
The whole plot is so crazy and twisty turny. Sometimes it can get confusing, so you really need to pay attention. Cassell realizes his memory has been worked on. A lot. So trying to understand what's real or fake takes some time for both him and the audience.
The only reason I didn't give this five stars is because, yet again, I didn't feel anything. The book had SO much potential to tear me apart, but instead it took on a lighter tone with Cassel's sarcastic mouth. Don't get me wrong, there are dark parts of the book but it seems like Cassel just accepts what's happened to him. Any other person would be inconsolable after figuring everything out, and he has a minor breakdown and that's that.
I did like the characters, everyone was quirky and fun and intelligent, but I just didn't care who lived or died. The ending was miserable, in a good way. I can tell the next book is going to be great.