Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cat Quest Review: Mort(e) by Robert Repino

This review is part of Cat Quest, my challenge to read science fiction and fantasy books that feature cats.
Mort(e) is about the war between the ants and the humans. The ants are angry about the humans' lack of respect for life and they're going to do something about it thanks to a pheromone that turns domesticated animals into human-sized bipedal intelligent animals. These liberated housepets and worker-animals join cause with the now-giant ants to cleanse the earth of humans.

Morte is a housecat turned war hero who decides that it's high time he find his doggy friend Sheba. She was particularly ill-used by humans and he's not even sure she's alive. He'll risk anything to find her.

The farther I get from finishing Mort(e), the more I like it. While I was listening to it (and Bronson Pinchot was a fabulous narrator by the way) I had a hard time caring about Morte, his quest to find his doggy friend Sheba, or the plight of the humans. I still don't care about any of those things. What has sat well with me over the months since I finished it is the general premise and setup. Don't get me wrong, it's still absurd and borders on nonsensical, but I'm glad the book exists.

I suspect that many readers had the same problem getting into the story that I did. It's hard. You have to just accept the premise. There is no reconciling it with reality. This is not science fiction, this is fantasy. More specifically, this is bizarro fiction.

If you're not familiar with the genre, here's a wikipedia blurb on it:

Bizarro fiction is a contemporary literary genre, which often uses elements of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre fiction staples, in order to create subversive, weird, and entertaining works.

I am a big believer that giving a book the right labels can greatly enhance the reader's experience. Knowing that this is bizarro helps the reader go into the book already halfway to accepting every strange element.

As far as the Cat Quest goes, this isn't it for me. Besides not really liking the story, Morte is too human for this to be the ultimate cat book even if he has the experience of being a cat.

Anthropomorphization level:

by FOX-POP under CC license
3 Paws in the human world

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