My shelves are teeming with unread books; they always are. I have a (carefully crafted) to-be-read list which lives in one of my journals, which I tick off with glee upon finishing a book, despite loving, hating, or tolerating said works. I prefer a reading-rhythm. My reading-rhythm. I catalogue the books I will eventually read into an order – I do, and have always done this, to try and extract the best experiences from books.
For example, I cannot read three crime-fiction books in a row. I get bored, and my mind glosses over chapters and I long for something other than scenes in a chilly morgue with hellbent yet brooding detectives (why always with the brooding detective trope?!). So, I might read a “classic”, then some Young Adult, then a thriller, then a book of short stories, then contemporary fiction etc and etc. It helps me stay interested in the book in hand, and I always look forward to the sharp change in genre.
There are times, though, where I’ll pick up a book on a whim and just *have* to read it. Maybe the synopsis is just too compelling to sentence it to live at the very end of my to-be-read. Or sometimes, I’ll just need something completely different, something fun and adventurous.
Ciye emailed me in December: “Hi Rhiân, Happy holidays! I would like to ask if you’d be interested in reviewing an illustrated cat book?”. Like, cats, and gorgeous illustration, in a book? Um, hello, YES. He’d attached some information about the book and I emailed back telling him he’d certainly picked a very suitable audience of one.
In The OOAK Cat Book, we meet 33 very different cats, all with their own very different catty tales to regale, told through short stories and impeccable illustration. Ciye draws/paints by hand, and then enhances the details on a photo-editing programme. The illustrations are full of whimsy, but with careful attention to detail, and there’s always more than meets the eye.
There are 16 sections to the book, all written in different and well-thought out mediums. “The Diva” is a magazine style interview with talking feline superstar-cum-actress, Catalina Deneuve, Hollywood’s newest obsession. “Fame is her catnip and Hollywood is her scratching post”. This section, while hilarious, touched on our society’s galling fixation with the rich and famous. Satirical as it is, the questions raised about her background, her ‘authenticity’, and the ‘white powder’ which drops from her bag (turns out to be catnip) are undoubtedly reflective of the discussions that are had daily about celebrities in modern society.
One of my other favourite stories, “Murder Kitties”, plays out on the screen of an e-reader, capturing a private investigator’s struggle with believing that a string of murders are linked to 3 re-homed kittens. Could Sprinkles really be the malevolent mastermind the client says she is?
I read about Guillaume the catty macaron chef, Dolly the Harajuku cat with her own fashion line, and the rainbow cat of Svalbard. While one story is depicted through postcards, another is depicted through email, and another through letters. The changes in style are a huge part of the reason I loved this book – they’re modern, relevant, and they feel very journal-esque.
Ciye has successfully managed to merge satire and his illustrative prowess to create something which discusses current pop-culture, society and fame through an unconventional medium: a book about cats. Ultimately, I think this book is *very* sassy. And I love it.
You can read The OOAK Cat Book by visiting Ciye’s website, where it’s available for free download for a limited time. If you do, be sure to let me know what you think!
Miaow for now,
P.S. Fancy another book review? Check out my review of The Sudden Departure of The Frasers