Review: Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer

Title: Catfishing on Catnet
Author: Naomi Kritzer
Release Date: November 19, 2019
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 304

Content Warnings: discussion of genitalia, queerphobia, ableism, abuse, racism, police misconduct, kidnapping, mutilation, torture, hospitals, medical procedures, house fire

This post does contain affiliate links. I will receive a small amount from any purchases made through Book Depository at no extra cost to you.

How much does the internet know about YOU? A thought-provoking near future YA thriller that could not be more timely as it explores issues of online privacy, artificial intelligence, and the power and perils of social networks.

Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet—a social media site where users upload cat pictures—a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I.

When a threat from Steph’s past catches up to her and ChesireCat’s existence is discovered by outsiders, it’s up to Steph and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her.

A surprising, heartfelt near-future YA thriller by award-winning author Naomi Kritzer, whose short story “Cat Pictures Please” won the Hugo Award and Locus Award and was a finalist for the Nebula.

Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Catfishing on CatNet was so much better than I ever imagined it could be and you should 100% read it as soon as you can!! There are so many incredible things about this story.

Having a ton of prominent characters in a book can get confusing quickly but Naomi Kritzer handled it perfectly. They were all unique and I found it easy to distinguish between their names and voices. Each of them brought a vital element to the story – it never felt like there were too many people bogging things down.

At first, I was nervous about the plot because it seemed like things were going down a stereotypical path and I would be able to guess what would happen but there ended up being so many fun twists and turns. Once I would start to think I had a handle on things some new information would be brought up and it caused me to reconsider everything. And at the end everything was wrapped up so satisfactorily.

This book is also queer af. We have characters that are:

  • gay
  • non-binary pansexual using they/them pronouns
  • somebody who switches from preferring xie to she/her and then considers giving they/them a try
  • agender
  • questioning
  • lesbian
  • bisexual
  • ace

More gayness, less meanness.

It’s all right there on the page! The reader isn’t left guessing and reading between the lines to determine/hope that they are seeing the representation they need.

The characters aren’t perfect (because nobody in real life is) but if they mess up they get called out. I saw them calling each other out for using somebody’s incorrect pronouns, being queerphobic, and using ableist language.

Also, there is an AI as a main character and I’ve been searching for something like that since reading Illuminae but also Illuminae made me completely distrust any AIs so that was fun. And hey friends-to-lovers trope, you wonderful thing you, I saw you over there!

Catfishing on CatNet was just an all-around great, thrilling, and humorous read. The fact that it is science fiction almost made me not pick it up but it’s done in such an easy-going way that I was never overwhelmed. This is a story that felt accessible for everyone and it deserves so much support.

Does this sound like a book you’d enjoy? What would you do if you ever encountered an AI? Let me know in the comments!

A physical ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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