Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
Published October 2018 by Penguin Publishing Group
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary:
With his crooked tail--a sign of good fortune--and adventurous spirit, Nana is the perfect companion for the man who took him in as a stray. And as they travel in a silver van across Japan, with its ever-changing scenery and seasons, they will learn the true meaning of courage and gratitude, of loyalty and love.

My Thoughts: 
Normally I wouldn't review a book I haven't finished. It seems a little unfair to the book and how much can I really say about a book I haven't given a full chance to impress me. This one seems different to me, for some reason. Maybe because it's, apparently, an international bestseller that's been made into a movie. Maybe because I really am a cat lover so this one should be right in my wheelhouse. I'm not writing the review to bash the book, although I am going to tell you my problems with it. Instead I'm writing to make you aware of it. Because, even if it is an international bestseller, I'd never heard about it before. Maybe you haven't either. And maybe you're someone who really likes books with a cat for a narrator. Maybe you're a fan of books written by Japanese authors, which have been translated into English and happen to feature a cat.

What a minute! I'm a person who likes books written by a Japanese author who regularly includes cats in his books. Here's the thing, though: Haruki Murakami may have his cats talk, even; but they are not the narrators of the books. That seems to have been my biggest problem with the book. Arikawa uses Nana as a pretense to take readers from one story about Saturi and a friend of his to another. Those stories interested me; I liked the way Arikawa was able to fully develop each new character, from the time he met Saturi to his adult self. It wasn't an altogether off-putting idea to use a cat as the narrator to tie the stories together. I mean, I do always wonder what my cat's thinking. But after twenty pages or so, it started to feel a bit like a childish to me, perhaps a little to gimmicky.

It's a short book, only about 150 pages; once I was half way in, I sort of felt like I might as well finish. But I have a lot of books I want to get to by the end of the year. I began to realize that I don't have time, or the desire, to read a book I'm not thoroughly enjoying. So I set this one aside. It wasn't for me, at least not at this time. Maybe if I were looking for something that was completely different from what I'd been reading, this one might have worked better for me. Which is why I wanted to bring it to your attention; this might just be the right book for you.

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