Friday, 27 September 2013

Review: Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Published: 2008 (first published 1963)
Publisher: Penguin Modern Classics
Pages: 206
Source: Library
'Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding 'fathers' of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to humanity. For he is the inventor of ice-nine, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. Writer Jonah's search for its whereabouts leads him to Hoenikker's three eccentric children, to an island republic in the Carribean where the religion of Bokononism is practised, to love and to insanity.'
I'm not sure there's anything I can say about Cat's Cradle that hasn't already been said before. I will warn that this review includes spoilers. This was my first Vonnegut book and I had fallen in love with his writing style by the first page. Cat's Cradle is unique, strange, wonderful and engaging. There were no characters I particularly loved or particularly felt dispassionate towards, but I enjoyed the narrator's interactions with all of them, and the narrator's quick wit.

I loved the idea of Bokononism and the Bokononist songs that were interspersed throughout. My favourite was Papa's death scene with his last rites, which was compelling, entertaining and surprisingly moving.

At the end of everything, when I sit down and think over the entire novel, it's a pretty frightening plot. Frightening because it was written in the sixties and the fear of a nuclear war isn't one that disappearing anytime soon.  There's dark humour laced throughout of course (my favourite being the fact that Vonnegut plays on the idea of the Cold War with ice-nine. Could it possibly get any colder?) and the idea of the end of the world is in the middle of what is essentially a darkly comical book, which makes it easier to ingest - as long as you don't dissect it too closely.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I'm going to make sure I read more Vonnegut in the near future.

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