Cathy's Book by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, illustrated by Cathy Brigg

2105403The publishing phenomenon Cathy’s Book redefined the way teens approach novels and set a new standard for interactivity, using the most popular kids’ technology to enhance the experience of reading a really good story. As a new chapter is about to unfold with the publication of the sequel, Cathy’s Key later this spring, the original novel is available in trade paperback. All of the supplementary items from the "evidence pack” are reproduced on pages in the back of the book, making this edition more accessible and portable. All of the original websites, phone numbers, and secret codes are still operational. Part romance, part thriller, part mystery, Cathy’s Book stands on its own beyond the interactive angle and the intense marketing campaign that made it a bestseller. Readers identify with Cathy, they read her story, listen to her phone messages, check out the websites she mentions, and they leave her messages on her MySpace.com page and on a special voicemail. Fans have even created their own videos on YouTube, demonstrating their comfort and familiarity with this level of interactivity and technology. Reviewers and awards committees have also recognized the unique phenomenon that reset the bar for engaging teen novels. Don’t miss this opportunity to get caught up in Cathy’s world all over again! Included in the paperback edition only is a special, teaser chapter from the sequel (which pubs two months later), to whet the appetite of the thousands of readers who have gotten caught up in the web of Cathy’s story! A YALSA Quick Pick
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                                                                                      Rating:  4.5 of 5 stars
                                                                                      Series book: Yes 
                                                                                      Will I read the Next: Yes

Cathy's Book by Sean Stewart, Jordan Weisman, and Cathy Briggs is a break-out Young Adult first published September 12, 2006. A following of about 1000 members online of all ages and genders, it sold 6,000 copies in a meer 3 months of being published, and number 7 on the New York Times Best Seller list. And those are just the book's stats. Cathy herself is a very popular character with 1,200 friends on Myspace, 22 followers on Flickr, and 1,863 friends on Facebook. An impressive feat, considering she's a fictional character. After reading the book myself, I completely understand what all the hype is about. Cathy's book is a fully engrossing novel that blurs the lines between Young Adult genres and can definitely keep even the most hard-hearted of book critics distracted from their daily duties such as sleeping, eating, working, and the likes. 

In Cathy's Book, our main character (by the name of the book I think you can guess her name's Cathy) meets Victor, the romantic interest. He's quick witted, seemingly perfect, and he's an older guy (scandalous). Cathy and Victor's relationship doesn't exactly end on a happy not; after their final date, Cathy wakes up with a needle mark on her arm (and of course her mom thinks she's on drugs. Insert eye-roll and a grunt that sounds suspiciously like the word "moms") and a message from Victor saying "I'm breaking up with you and never want to see you again." Suspicious? Totally. Cathy, not being the type to cry and let it go, went snooping investigating at Victor's house(the door was open so it's not technically Breaking and Entering, it's just entering), and gets herself caught up in a fast-paced mystery including murder, kidnapping, fake cops, real cops, and suspected drug dealers (I did say suspected! Innocent until proven guilty).

Cathy's Book is written to be like Cathy's diary(which is obvious when you read the full title, (Cathy's Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8233). I've read many books in this type of format, and Cathy's book was by far the best. In an actual diary, the grammar won't be perfect, everything that should be capitalized probably won't be, and it definitely won't be the neatest thing in the world. It would be easy to believe Cathy's Book was genuine(which is the point, I'm pretty sure) because it actually looked like a teenage girl wrote it. All throughout the book you can see places where "Cathy" went back and wrote something in pen. One of my favorite examples of this is when Cathy is theorizing about Victor and his motives. She types "I think I've got it! What if," and then handwritten on the side it says "I just cannot for the life of me remember what I figured out,"(Stewart, Weisman, and Briggs, 61). Like I said before, this is interactive book. What do I mean by that? All the websites and numbers you see in this book are real and functional. If you called the number on the front of the book, you'll hear Cathy's voice-mail. After you listen to the voice-mail, you can also gain access to the messages on the voice-mail if you have the password(which is hidden in the book). Now what you're thinking is, "But aren't the numbers just a marketing scheme so they can charge me for calling?'' Well, I've got an answer for that too. I know from experience that the numbers are toll free, so if your curiosity gets the best of you(and lets face it, it probably will) there's nothing stopping you from calling the numbers and following the characters journey throughout this trilogy. And possibly the best part of this novel(or at least I think so), the illustration. Every single page of this book has absolutely beautiful doodles that have to do with the story. Victor drawn as a vampire, a needle dripping an unidentified liquid, portraits of various characters. They may not be required in the book(I'm sure the book would've been enjoyable without them) but it certainly adds a kind of personal feeling. Like, "Hi, my name is Cathy and I'm a doodler just like you. Although mine may be slightly better." It makes Cathy seem more realistic. The diary-style writing plus the fact that it's interactive along with the gorgeous doodles makes Cathy's Book the perfect distraction from the work you really should be doing.

I love the characters in this book. Cathy is the perfect main character. She was witty, but mostly only in her diary. And we can all relate to thinking of something smart to say after the conversations over. Insert every teenager in the room sinking in their chairs, laughing nervously while the adults avoid eye contact. She was sarcastic, but in a good way. Or so we sarcastic teens like to think. And she was just reckless enough, or some may say stupid, to keep the story interesting. And then there's Victor, the mysterious older boyfriend(or should I say ex) who works at a pharmaceutical company(drug dealer, perhaps).The thing I like most about his character? His life doesn't stop when Cathy isn't around him. You might be making a face and thinking "duh" while reading that last sentence, but that's mistake a lot of authors make. "My main character isn't with this person right now, so lets just say he's sitting a home watching TV, or something." I cannot tell you how many books I've read where that seems to be the case. Well, that's not the case in Cathy's book. This is obvious when Cathy's going through Victor's day planner and it has more than just the one significant thing that doesn't outright say "murder my co-worker" but sure does imply it. No, there's also lunch and dinner plans in his day planner, so it's obvious Victor isn't just all about potential drug deals, mysteriously breaking up with his girlfriend, and fraternizing with murder victims. There is one thing that stops me from saying this book was absolutely perfect. One of the supporting characters just disappears and I really don't like loose ends. There's this interesting character name Jun, who comes in towards the end of the book. /her personality draws you in a "Omigosh, why she so depressing who peed in her Cheerios," kind of way. Anyway, after a slightly confusing fight scene with Victor, she's dismissed in a "I'm disowning you," kind of way by her dad. Not two seconds later the cops show up to rescue Cathy and wrap up the whole story, but Jun isn't mentioned after that. No one says if she's in jail, if she ran, nothing. You know how on TV, when a teenager comes home late the parents say, "why didn't you call? We were worried sick! For all we knew you could've been dead or lying in a ditch somewhere." Well, in my opinion, you should not be left wondering if a character is "dead or lying in a ditch somewhere," especially a supporting character who might not come up again in the sequel. Closure! It's all I ask!

If you're looking for a book with unrelatable characters, a boring and overused plot, and your typical 1st or 3rd person writing style, you should probably skip over Cathy's Book and read something like Fallen or Twilight. But if you're looking for a fantastic, addicting diary with a super fun and mysterious plot, characters you wish were real (and they could be with how realistic they were), and gorgeous doodles and pictures on every page, then pick up Cathy's Book and don't put it down until you're finished. And then possibly read it again.

SUMMARY OF REVIEW(In case you don't actually feel like reading the review):
Writing: 5 out of 5
Plot: 5 out of 5
characters: 4 out of 5 
Romance: 5 out of 5
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
PG-13