The Cat Who Saved Books was a netgalley book, for which I am very grateful. I seem to have become better at picking books that suit my post-covid brain since I realised the trouble with those more thrilling books I’d picked. This is a mystery, and thrilling, but more mysterious! And suitable for older MG.
The Cat Who Saved Books
By Sosuke Natsukawa, translated by Louise Heal Kawai
Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookshop he inherited from his beloved grandfather. Then, a talking cat named Tiger appears with an unusual request. The cat needs Rintaro’s help to save books that have been imprisoned, destroyed and unloved.
Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different labyrinths to set books free. Through their travels, Tiger and Rintaro meet a man who locks up his books, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publisher who only wants to sell books like disposable products. Then, finally, there is a mission that Rintaro must complete alone . . .
An enthralling tale of books, first love, fantasy, and an unusual friendship with a talking cat, The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa, translated by Louise Heal Kawai, is a story for those for whom books are so much more than words on paper.[goodreads]
The only thing wrong with this book is the cover: its not a ginger cat, Tiger’s a tabby with white chest and tummy. It says so right when we first meet him!
And for me, that was the only thing wrong with the Cat Who Saved Books. It is perfect in every other way. Intriguing, enthralling, intelligent, mystifying, visual, heartwarming, mildly scary… Everything you could want in a book, all wrapped up with some lovely characters, even they are a perfect examples of extremes!
Sometimes when Tiger the Tabby led us down mysterious stacks of books into a white lit strange world, I was reminded of Wrinkle in Time. Maybe it is a mashup between Wrinkle in Time, Alice in Wonderland and the Ninja Librarian. But it is a wonderful mashup with its own voice, its own heroes in Rintaro, and the class rep turned good friend, Sayo.
The reasoning that goes on in order for Rintaro to solve the puzzles was my favourite bit. It’s hard to defy false logic and see through to the heart of a problem. There is a lot here for a thoughtful middle grade reader. There’s a lot here for an olde reader too, who will see the problems only too clearly, since they are at the heart of our society and our calamities at present. And the final problem shows that it is indeed not so easy to solve these problems as Rintaro first thought. But they can be solved… if we try hard enough and hold firm.
I love this book. I will probably buy a copy to read again, and then hand on to someone younger than me!