This is one of the books we bought from the Oni Press booth at Pax West last year. It’s the story of a cat writing the memoirs of his previous eight lives, most of which involved him trying to take over the world. It’s a great looking little hardcover and was on sale, so how could we resist?
A rich stranger invites an American journalist (or, blogger, I guess?) to London under much secrecy in order to write his memoirs. The stranger, it turns out, is a talking cat, and he tells the blogger tales of his previous lives – running messages for troops through the trenches at The Battle of the Somme, convincing ancient Egyptians to worship cats, advising Napoleon during his wartime campaigns, that sort of thing.
It’s a fun concept, but it fell a bit flat for me. I enjoyed the flashbacks, but the idea was too ambitious for the size of this book, so most of those stories were pretty thin. It felt like they took away from the potentially interesting modern-day narrative as well, which was also left feeling a bit anemic. The stories from the past didn’t really compliment the main plot at all, and as a result the book felt disjointed.
This is just a minor annoyance, but I knew without checking the bio that the writer wasn’t English. I couldn’t tell if he was trying to play up stereotypes for comedic effect (he had villains in bowler hats, after all) or if he really thought a bunch of ‘bloody hell’s and Manchester United references was what the reader needed to truly imagine London. It wasn’t enough to ruin the experience, and actually this fictional Disney view of London was fun, but I did find it quite jarring throughout the book. I imagine it would be even worse if you were actually English.
This had some problems, but it was also a fun read with some great artwork. It’s hard to go truly wrong with talking cats taking over the world.