There are these books that have a great idea but a lousy execution, and this happens to be the case with Catseye. Before you move on and skip this book, saying okay, this is not for me then, wait. While the narration is clunky and confusing, giving too little information about the surroundings and the history, the emotional connection between Troy Horan and his animal friends are beautiful. They together teach a lesson about freedom, respect, and don’t judge a book by the cover philosophy. So, I think that itself makes the book worthy of giving it a chance to speak to you. Okay, the narration is a big part of an enjoyable reading experience, and this wasn’t one of those. Only at the end, when Andre Norton makes her last appeal to the reader’s nature, for the message, everything comes together and makes better sense. But I guess that is like life for you. Things seem to make sense only when we have been told the whole story, and then with some, it is too late.
But back to the topic of freedom, control, and animal intelligence. The book plays well with layers, reminding the reader that losing freedom affects not only the animals and their suppressed talents but also humans; the poor and the neglected. And the reader can take both of those things away from the book, with the understanding of how controlling information is a way to keep others in their place. That an open society, which cares about its inhabitants (human and animal), wants everyone to be as educated as to the next fellow. That when we share and respect others, we create something more than a dominance system where we exploit strangers and friends for personal gain. One can dream of such openness for both the crows, the rats, the koalas, the cows and chickens, and for humans. Such things are not a fool’s dream, I think. They are possible if enough books, movies, poetry, music, other forms of art show what life can be and is.
So, I’m wishing that I read this as a teenager as now the message is preaching to the choir. Then again, it is always reaffirming to learn that others show the same compassion to those at the mercy of others. (So pretty much everyone. Those who have money and power don’t understand that we are in the same (sinking) boat.) Anyway, this is a beautiful book about friendship, love for animals, and praise for their intelligence, but also about freedom and respect.
Thank you for reading! Have a great day and hug a cat/rat/bat/human/whoever you wish.