Hi everyone---I'm on a roll this month. I guess I'm just happy about the blog update and school finally winding down. Thank goodness. Today though, I'm super excited to finally share my thoughts about Take Me to the Cat by Bryant Loney! This review is brought to you by Verona Booksellers, who kindly reached out to me for a review. Take Me to the Cat comes out in print on June 27th, so be sure to grab a copy when it's out!
Chapter length: ✭✭
Cliche count: ✭✭✭✭✭
Overall rating: ✭✭✭✭
Synopsis: Nostalgic high school senior Michael Jackson wants nothing more than to reunite with his friends from elementary school—and possibly change his name.
Transferring before middle school after his parents’ nasty divorce, Michael always felt he was at his happiest back in his Oklahoma hometown. Inviting his lifelong crush Catherine, among other former classmates, to a spring break reunion party seems like the perfect plan for Michael to get closure on the formative years of his life. Yet nothing is as he remembers when Michael finds himself entangled in his own confusion between reality and nightmare. Suddenly, secrets from his childhood resurface, and the fanatic ringleader from Michael’s past will do whatever it takes to silence his friends. Now it’s up to Michael to save them all before it’s too late. But does he have the courage and strength to go up against his own worst enemy?
In this quirky psychological thriller from the mind of Bryant A. Loney, Michael will go through hell and high water as he faces his inner demons, unaware that the revelation he seeks demands the ultimate sacrifice.
[WARNING! Contains mature themes, profanity, violence, and reference to sexual violence.]
Favorite quotes: "The dam is leaking Michael. And when it breaks, the lake will flood, and it'll take you with it. You know that, right?" (96)
Okay, can I just start off by saying WHOA.
This book baffled me....in a good and bad way
The beginning of the book is really slow, mostly consisting of friend and relationship dram. I arrived at page 100 wondering where the psychological thriller aspect of this book was hiding. But, as I was advised, things take a very, very sharp turn around 106-110. Yikes.
Characters: The first thing I want to make sure I get across to you all crystal clear is that this book contains some of the most diverse characters I've ever had the pleasure of getting to know. That being said however, there's so many characters, they sometimes became a little blurry in my mind, and I'd have to pause to remember who's who. Thankfully, some beautiful artwork of the main 4 characters (Michael, Troy, Cat, and Bryce) was provided for this review, and I'll fangirl about the diversity in this book a little later!
Cover: Eerie photo of a lake known for its mysterious disappearances? Um, yes. Even though this lake is fictional, I'm still creeped out by it....in a good way (I think?)
Pacing: With any horror book comes heart racing, frantic page turning epidemic, and Take Me to the Cat certainly provided just that! The pacing is quick. Small details are easily missed. If you feel confused after Michael has an epiphany, you probably skipped over something you thought was insignificant. It isn't. read carefully.
Chapter length: I don't know if it's because I was given this book in PDF or if the print version will be different, but the version I received doesn't have actual numbered chapters. It just kinda runs on until there is a break in the text eventually. Of course, me being a girl with a preference for chapter length, this really irked me because I couldn't find a good place to stop. It may also be part of the reason that I occasionally did not recognize the severity or importance of certain situations. Nevertheless, this may not bother you as much as it did me.
Cliche count: This book is completely unique to what I'd usually read, and I found no eye-roll worthy cliches.
Okay, now onto the free rambles!
First of all, me:
I was SO confused at first! I remember thinking like, what the hell is happening here?! Truthfully, even after I finished the book I wasn't sure if what happened during Michael's hallucinations were real or not. It felt real, and that's something that I really appreciate about this book and the way it's written. We the readers are so engrossed in Michael's thought process that even we ourselves stop to question what is reality and what is one of his hallucinations. It's insane. Whenever I read horror or other malicious book genres, I expect to be completely caught up in the drama, and Take Me to the Cat definitely delivered.
OKAY. Can we please talk about the abundant diversity and contemporary social issues this book covers?! I've NEVER (and I mean never!) have read a book that included a character that is a therian. UM, YES! My enthusiasm isn't present because I'm a therian myself, but because I've been exposed to that community and I understand it. It's just such an awesome feeling to see a writer who A) is widely exposed to contemporary social issues despite well-known ones and B) covers them accurately and in depth. A breath of fresh air, if you will. I remember getting to the scene where Cat is having her snack and she's like "I'm a domestic cat therian" and I instantly was like:
So cool. Another contemporary issue that became a theme in the book is gay pride. Now don't get me wrong, I loved Troy and his openness about his sexuality, but GOD DID HE ANNOY ME. Seriously, I don't know if I'm a bit biased since we are in Michael's shoes here, but quite frankly I agree with Michael's frustration for his best friend(ish)! Anyway, the take home message from the friend conflict is that it shouldn't matter what your sexuality is, and if you happen to steer from the typical straight/cisgender person, it shouldn't alter others perception of you. Michael spent so much time viciously denying that he was gay, all to learn in the end that it didn't even matter. As Troy said: "You act like it's a fucking disease." (106)
I think that's an important point because even I see guys my age trying so hard to put on a show of masculinity, when in reality, most people either don't even care or wouldn't even know from just looking at you! Even though the point is implied, it's a rather thought-worthy one.
To not make this review 90% rambles, I'll just list some other social things the book touches on:
~Transgender struggles and dysphoria
~Other LGBTQ+ topics
I think this is a good read for someone who is interested in creepy, traitorous, murder mysteries, and those of whom are super into contemporary social issues and like to see various opinions on them! One thing that I will say again is the hallucinations are a bit hard to spot when they first begin, but afterward you'll probably be able to determine what is real and what isn't from the sheer eerieness of it all. *Shivers*
Again, thank you so much to Verona Booksellers for giving me the opportunity to read and review!