Review: Catfishing on CatNet by Naomi Kritzer

Do you really know who you are talking to?

Cover Design: Faceout Studio

Synopsis:

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 CheshireCat’s existence is discovered by outsiders, it’s up to Steph and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her.4 

Read an excerpt here.

I am so glad that the original cover for Catfishing on CatNet was scrapped because it was too childish for this type of book. I understand the original premise of cats on the cover, but no one in the age range it is appropriate for would have bought it…and this one is a keeper rainbows.

Naomi Kritzer takes us into the world of online chatting, groups, cyberstalking, and code that can destroy life as we know it. 

Steph moves a lot and the only friends she has is online. She doesn’t know what they look like, but she knows their secrets and they know her’s. She has moved to a new town with her mother and has started yet another small town high school. On the very first day, she finds herself drawn to another student, Rachel, and real-life and cyberworld start to merge.

Kritzer gives us the usual trope of a girl and her mother on the run and they have secrets. What makes this story so interesting is that it is told in two viewpoints: an A.I. and Steph. The AI is alive (don’t worry this isn’t a spoiler as Kritzer tells us right away that the AI is alive). We get to see Steph’s situation from a third party that is at once knowledgeable and ignorant. 

The dilemma of machines making decisions which will further impact people if they gain consciousness is a very familiar trope, but Kritzer makes it fresh. The merging of the diversity of characters in race, sexuality, and gender is part of the answer, but so is the plot of being on the run and being stalked.

The mystery and suspense holds as Kritzer adds twist after twist. The mixing of the reality of being on the run allows for conversation and connections to happen. As the Ai says: multi-tasking.

I love the character of Steph and it is a tie between CheshireCat and Rachel for runner-up. Both characters exhibit friend code to the max. In this new loyalty, Steph does the same for them. I love strong characters who keep the code and don’t get distracted.

Catfishing on CatNet is the kick-off to the “CatNet” series and I cannot wait for more.

I got this book from my library. I love my local library and you should check out yours too. Request LGBTQ+ books and they will stock them! #ebooksforall

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Further Details:
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates, 9781250165077, 19 November 2019
Editor: Susan Chang
Narrator: Casey Turner
Series: CatNet #1; Settings: California, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin, U.S.
Pages: 304
SC: ACE, Bi, Enby, Gay, Pan, Asian, Black

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