• SumoMe

atomicbombKurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel “Cat’s Cradle” is one of the more unique books I’ve read in a while. The work follows the journey of a writer named John whose goal is to document the life of a scientist who worked on the creation of the atomic bomb. In particular, he’s interested in what Dr. Hoenikker did on the day the U.S. bombed Hiroshima. His research leads him down a rabbit hole, propelled by obscure statements made by Dr. Hoenikker’s family and other people who live on his fictional island. What starts out as an innocent investigative work turns into a bizarre situation involving dictators, a strange (but practical) religion, and a pill/weapon called ice nine that symbolizes the atomic bomb.

The book is incredibly unique in its style, as it is often split up into short (sometimes two paragraphs) chapters of seemingly-irrelevant vignettes and odd conversations that wind up tying together in the end. “Cat’s Cradle” is very Vonnegut in style, and readers will either love or hate it–I find it very compelling. This work, with its fictitious religion of Bokonism as a running theme throughout, paired with an investigation into the thoughts and habits (rather than work) of an atomic bomb scientist encourage the reader to think about issues in a different light, framed by the practical tenants of Bokonism and featuring a strange thesis.

This seemingly esoteric investigation leads to life-changing events for the narrator, and Vonnegut’s singular vignettes of strange occurrences mirror that series of events perfectly. Reading “Cat’s Cradle” is akin to putting a jigsaw puzzle together, one chapter-piece at a time. It’s a delightful and page-turning read that would work great for anyone interested in strange fiction or distopian works.

Have you read “Cat’s Cradle?” Without giving anything too significant away, what did you think?