Book Reviews by KPL Teens: Naomi Kritzer’s Catfishing on CatNet
(May 2021) This was a very interesting and engaging book! The main character was a girl named Steph Taylor, whose mom frequently picked her up and moved her across the country. She didn’t have many friends at her school but she was active on a social media site called CatNet. On this site she has made several friends all of whom she seems very close to. She knows that the fact she moves all the time is irregular, and she also knows it’s so that her potentially dangerous father will not find her and her mother. However, she doesn’t know much about her father, only what her mother has told her. When she hacks a Sex Ed robot at her school, her dad is able to find her and she also finds out the identity of one of her close friends. She has to protect herself and her friends by embarking on a dangerous trip with one of her newfound IRL friends across the country. I was very intrigued and pulled in immediately. The characters were diverse and very interesting. They had different backgrounds, different races- including Asian and biracial heritage, different sexualities and genders, and just had very different texting styles. As a person who has online friends, I LOVED reading about a group of online friends. I have never really seen it represented in this way and it was great to see. I think the idea of online friends should be normalized.
I also liked how they wrote the AI. I would say I would have preferred a change in perspective, but this way wasn’t bad. The AI felt very human. It had interests and personality. All of the characters were written in a way that was relatable, but not too bland.
Right away the book summary had me very engaged. As I read the book and learned the scenario I was curious to see how it would tie into CatNet. Although I feel like there could have been more involvement with the family dynamic and CatNet, I am still glad the family dynamic is tied into a virtual society. If I’m being perfectly honest, the motivation of the dad was quite unrealistic and felt very fake. Also, looking back, the plot was a major factor in a negative review.
In conclusion, I liked how this book dealt with friendships, and characters, but I didn’t really like the way the plot twist tied into the whole thing.
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Book Review by MJ C. (Age 13)