Title: Take Me to the Cat
Author: Bryant A. Loney
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Read from: 21 February – 31 March
Summary: Michael Jackson (no, not the singer) is a high school senior living in Alabama, although his thoughts are preoccupied with Oklahoma and his fifth grade class who he left behind when he and his mom moved to Alabama before he could start sixth grade. In fact, he is so entirely consumed by the nostalgia of simpler times and happy memories with his former peers that he decides to go back to Oklahoma and throw a reunion party in his uncle’s cabin over spring break.
However, when Michael reunites with his fifth grade classmates nothing is truly as it seems, and he finds himself drowning in confusion as reality turns into a nightmare. Secrets and forgotten memories are back to haunt Michael and his friends, and someone is out to make sure that they keep quiet or pay the ultimate consequence.
**I received an e-copy of this book from Verona Booksellers in exchange for an honest review**
Truthfully, my experience with psychological thrillers is nearly nonexistent so I had no idea what to expect from Take Me to the Cat. Author Bryant Loney writes honestly, with a great deal of diversity, and in a way that is truly suspenseful.
At first, I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the book because it felt like a lot of info-dumping without much else happening. Michael’s Alabama friends are introduced, and from there we start to see how he is more preoccupied with the past. As he starts to learn more about the people he once went to school with and his father, he decides to reunite with his former classmates at a spring break party in Oklahoma.
I found Michael’s Alabama friends to be nearly intolerable, especially Troy, who constantly called Michael “Mom” and had something to say about everything. Although most of them are only mentioned later on, Troy is along for the ride. However, I think Loney’s portrayal of teenagers was very authentic. He does an excellent job of capturing the pack mentality teens have, as well as the various issues regarding identity, sexuality, and friendship. These characters were not teenagers with the maturity of 30-somethings, which I see quite a bit of in YA lit. These characters are teenagers being teenagers. The number of characters is overwhelming initially, but each character is well-written and unique so it ends up being easy to tell them apart. They are each also very diverse and well-researched. I actually learned quite a bit about identity and sexuality from reading this book, and when I decided to check the information about the ‘Otherkin’, I found that the information in the book was accurate.
The writing itself is simplistic and thoughtful while also using small, creative details to keep the reader wanting more. Once I got into the story a bit, I found it very difficult to stop reading. Loney does a great job in building the suspense of the story and the emotions of the characters, and then ties it all together in a way that is very intense and creepy. The writing made me question what was real and what wasn’t and had me trying to figure out what really happened to all of the kids. Having Michael as a somewhat unreliable narrator helped drive the writing and build the plot even more.
Overall, this psychological thriller is just that – a well-written thriller, but it also shows the dangers behind radical thinking, blindly following someone else with self-proclaimed authority, and just how dangerous clinging to the past can be. The diverse and well-represented characters are genuine and a bit scary, making this book even more fun to read. Take Me to the Cat is a book I would like to read again, because I don’t doubt that there are dozens of little clues I missed. Overall, a good story from a talented writer.
I definitely suggest checking out Take Me to the Cat!