Birds Are Not for the Cat by Julian Traas and Silas Jackson
Warning: I don’t even know. I’m sorry.
Birds Are Not for the Cat by Julian Traas and Silas Jackson is a short novella about two factory workers, Pete and Sam, and their monotonous life that may not be exactly what it seems. After the deaths of their coworkers and the warning posters predicting their deaths, Pete and Sam realize something is very wrong and they set out to leave the factory and get help from the outside. The problem? Neither of them remembers where the outside is.
I will start this off by saying that I have no idea what I just read and I have no idea how I feel about it.
I guess I’ll begin with the things I did like. I really enjoyed the conversational style of the writing. It allowed me to immediately feel connected to the characters and events and was a good choice for the pace of the novel. The dialogue was also done well, with the exception of some all-caps shouting at points which took me out of the story. There were a few minor typos, but they were very few and easy to ignore.
The characters of Pete and Sam were very relatable. As they went through the mystery of the deaths of their coworkers and the work safety posters that predicted their deaths, I felt very drawn in to their thoughts and the events happening around them. The only thing I will say is that I found the voices of the two main characters to be a little too similar. While I really think that worked for the beginning, there wasn’t enough of a distinction made until much later on which made keeping up with who was who a bit difficult.
The mystery was another thing that I really enjoyed about this book. There are so many questions left by the end, but I never felt cheated out of anything or that I was left hanging. In fact, had things been fully explained, I don’t feel it would have had the same effect.
Now for the hard part… the plot. I’ll be honest with you all, I don’t really know. I can’t tell you if I liked it or disliked it; I don’t even know if I fully comprehend what happened. It was odd, bizarre, and how I felt at the end was how I imagine people feel after coming off of an acid trip. But at the same time, it was entertaining (almost like watching a train wreck) and I couldn’t stop reading once I started. There were things that I really liked about the plot (mainly connected to the mystery aspect) and things that were so completely out there that I was left scratching my head. The ending was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read, and yet, I found myself enjoying the ride. Also, I absolutely loved the very, very end and how everything came full circle. To that end, I honestly can’t tell you what I think of the plot. There is no way to quantify it into a number and so I will leave it as a question mark and allow people to figure it out for themselves (and maybe tell me how I should feel about it too! haha). I have a feeling a lot of people will either love it or hate it, though there may be many like me who wind up unable to tell up from down.
In conclusion, I read this novella with expectations for a very noir style murder mystery and ended up reading something I hardly know how to explain. It was the strangest thing I have ever read, and yet I enjoyed every moment of it. Amongst all of the weird, I found a lot of things that make up an interesting novella. It is a story that will leave me thinking about it days after finishing and that, in my mind, despite the utter absurdity, is the mark of a good read.
Entertainment Value: 5/5
Average Overall Rating: 4/5
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