Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book Review: "Cat Incarcerated" by Noah Nichols

If you're looking for a quirky, slightly zany, sarcastic, and good-natured book to read, look no further than Noah Nichols' Cat Incarcerated. It's a unique story (I haven't seen a book with this plot before), and Nichols' storytelling is very engaging.

Cade A. Tanner is the first to admit he was a fairly miserable person when he was drunk, which was pretty much always. He drove his wife Stephanie away, and found himself alone, with not much more than the food from his favorite Chinese restaurant to keep him company. But somewhere down the line he found the strength to kick his addiction, and started seeing the beauty of life without alcohol.

Then the unthinkable happens: Cade sees an adorable kitten in the middle of the street, practically playing in traffic. The man that Cade has become absolutely can't let the kitten (especially one so cute) meet its maker while he watches, so he rushes out to rescue it, and he is immediately struck and killed by a texting-and-driving teenager. The irony.

Then the even-more-unthinkable happens: Cade wakes up to find he has been reincarnated as, of all things, a kitten. (An even cuter one than the one he rescued, but that's neither here nor there.) As he struggles with where to find shelter and food, not to mention reconcile the fact that he is now a cat ("Will I have to lower my standards and start going to the a litter box?"), he finds even more surprises along the way, because he is ultimately rescued by his ex-wife. And she has become a barely functioning alcoholic.

The book gets a little zanier from there, but it never loses its sense of humor or its heart. Cade (to whom Stephanie has given the name Ethan) raises some interesting existential questions that only a cat who was once a man can ponder:
What if...what if there are multiple poor souls out there who're just like me? A man, a woman, a child, of whatever age or background, inexplicably stuck inside the bodies of cats or dogs or bears or angry badgers (hey, maybe that's why they always look so pissed off for no reason!), or any animal for that matter. What if there's actually a deeper meaning to all of this? Something that's bigger than individuality, a type of extraordinary thing that's meant to overcome with a group of misfits. Something that's meant to teach an incredible lesson as a whole.
Sometimes the book gets a little too witty and, at times, corny, for its own good. A few times I waited for the rimshot to follow some of the jokes (and I won't even try to CATalogue the cat puns). But at its heart, the story is fun and unique, and it made me smile, as I waited to see what Nichols had up his sleeve next. You'll need to suspend your disbelief, of course; if you're one of those people who can't accept the idea of a man being reincarnated as a cat, this isn't a book for you.

The author provided me a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks, Noah, for making this available, and for providing some great amusement and smiles!

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