Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fat Cat by Robin Brande

Title: Fat Cat
Author: Robin Brande
Target Audience: Teen girls over twelve
Pages: Hardcover - 336 pages

Cat is smart, sassy, and funny—but thin, she’s not. Until her class science project. That’s when she winds up doing an experiment—on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living—and eating—like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no chips or TV is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere do have their benefits.

As the pounds drop off, the guys pile on. All this newfound male attention is enough to drive a girl crazy! If only she weren’t too busy hating Matt McKinney to notice. . . .

This funny and thoughtful novel explores how girls feel about their bodies, and the ways they can best take care of their most precious resource: themselves. - summary from Goodreads

After seeing the five gleaming golden stars that Fat Cat has on Amazon, I knew this book was a must read. Yet upon finishing Fat Cat, mixed feelings for this novel raced through my mind. This book is like a chunk of granite, embedded with both pretty and ugly flakes of other rock. Overall, its good qualities marginally dominate the poor ones, making this novel a sweet, light read that managed to alter my own lifestyle.

I was not sure what to make of Cat's personality; There were times when I wanted to scream at her in frustration and times when her decisions confused me. Cat is overweight, siphoning immense quantities of soda and other junk food into her body. When a school project inspires her to change her lifestyle and become healthy, I was surprised by her sudden enthusiasm to undertake it. Before, Cat seemed content with her weight, and her abrupt desire to change seemed strange, especially since this project would be very hard on her body. Though her underlying re­asons do appear later in the novel, the author could have let them flash a little bit in the beginning to let the reader know Cat's motivations.

Later, when Cat refuses to talk to boys, frustration welled up inside of me, because the author presents no reason for her stubborn rudeness towards males. During the majority of the novel, Cat is a complete meanie toward Matt, and the fact how she seems to have no vindication irritates me. When she does reveal the reason much later in the book, it's too late for me to forgive her, even if it justifies her cruel actions. The author tries to make the reason for Cat's hatred a mystery, but she ultimately fails by unnecessarily dragging out the feud until the very end, which achieves nothing other than irking me. Cat fostering such a strong grudge makes me dislike her, especially since the incident that triggered the enmity happened many, many years ago. Matt, on the other hand, is consistently sweet and caring, and Cat's aggressiveness causes me to pity him. 

Besides for Cat, The other characters are three dimensional, well drawn, and brimming with personality. From talented Amanda to jerky Greg, sweet and confused Matt to slimy Nick, the author magically writes an ensemble of characters to life. I found myself either liking or vehemently disliking each character, and feeling immensely protective over Cat's little brother, who is bullied at school.

This book has wholesome morals of intelligence over appearance and being healthy. In fact, Fat Cat inspired me to eat healthy foods, and soon, I found myself avoiding sugary sodas and processed munchies. I read this book a few hours after consuming about ten of my friend's Twixes (at least they were mini), and guiltily thought back to these unhealthy packages of caramel and chocolate while I watched Cat successfully avoid such items. Now, I'm able to always order water at restaurants opposed to sodas, politely decline desert when I'm merely greedy opposed to actually hungry, and limit the amount of candy I consume. Despite Cat's other flaws, she is a good role model, who helped me realize that eating healthy is vital to living a happy and energetic life. She also brought to light my relationship with junky foods. 

"The fact is that candy bars taste great. As do chips and pizza and ice cream and everything else that makes up a modern diet. 

It wasn't just the caffeine and artificial sweeteners that were hard to come off. I swear I had just as bad withdrawals from giving up everything else. Sugar feels very, very good. Some days it seems like it's the only thing that can make you happy.

It's just that sometimes having a few carrots doesn't quite do it for me the way the bag of Doritos or a dozen Oreos used to. I think part of it is psychological - eating real food seems so serious, whereas junk food felt fun.  

But it's not fun how it looks on your afterward. I guess that's the point I need to focus on. And the fact that I definitely do have a lot more energy now than I ever used to. 

But no wonder all does other scientists have had a hard time convincing us to stop eating all the goodies. Nothing says love like a cookie." - page 89

I really enjoyed reading the addicting, cheery novel of Fat Cat, and will probably reread it sometime in the future. This is the type of book I wish I could read again for the first time, since I found much joy while voyaging amidst its pages. While an overweight's person's revelations and emotional journey may sound dull, Cat is an interesting narrator who managed to keep my attention for the whole book.  Fat Cat reminded me of the reason I love reading: I learned so many interesting tidbits without trudging through non fiction text. The author integrates scientific facts and theories throughout the story. Whenever the author inserted an Einestein quote, thrills surged through me, and I appreciated Cat's love of science.

Toward the end of this book, the focus completely shifts to Cat's personal life, and I wished to see more of a conclusion on her project. While I see that the author wants to make a point of how the book is about the effects the project opposed the project itself, I became annoyed, since Cat never says what grade she earns, and if her teacher, who plays a critical roll in the shaping of her project, is satisfied by her efforts, or if she snags the much desired college recommendation letter. I would have rated this book much higher on the hoot scale if the project had more closure.

Cover: 3.5/5 – The bulging book is cute, and I love the rich, velvety purple of the cover. Not many books are purple these days. Other than that, this mediocre cover captures nothing special.

3.5 hoots

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  1. I loved this book when i read it. I gave it a 5 star rating on my blog. Glad to hear that you managed to enjoy some parts of this book :)

  2. Nice review! I agree with the rating, as did I rate it a 3.5 as well.

    Angela Z

  3. I'm wondering about this book now... I loved Robin Brande's debut novel (Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature) but I'm not sure if I love the sound of this one :(

    Very thorough review!

  4. There's an award for you over at my blog!

  5. I LOVE this book. one of my top 5