Cat?s Cradle, one of Vonnegut?s most entertaining novels, is filled with scientists and G-men and even ordinary folks caught up in the game. These assorted characters chase each other around in search of the world?s most important and dangerous substance, a new form of ice that freezes at room temperature. At one time, this novel could probably be found on the bookshelf of every college kid in America; it?s still a fabulous read and a great place to start if you?re young enough to have missed the first Vonnegut craze.
Vonnegut has a way of helping his readers enter into this end-of-the-world story. Jonah, the first-person narrator, wants to write a book about the end of the world ? so naturally his topic is the inventor of the atomic bomb, Dr. Frank Hoenikker, and what the people surrounding him were doing on the day the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. It is his research that leads him to Hoenikker?s children, old acquaintances and, finally, on a journey that goes completely different than expected?
The protagonist himself spoils parts of his story right at the beginning of the book, but I will do my best to keep the review spoilerfree. Personally, I didn?t even read the blurb, I just dug right into the book. Maybe that added to the wonder I felt washing over me on every page. Truth be told, I picked this as my second-chance-for-Vonnegut book because it is fairly slim (yes, I am ashamed of myself).
The style is both simple and complicated. Vonnegut uses simple words and short, precise sentences to tell a story that folds back onto itself, that jumps back and forth in time and expects the reader to know things that are only revealed much later. I see how this may turn certain people off, for me it only added to the charm and the mystery of this novel. I like having to work my brain to figure out what?s going on. The revelations are just that much more satisfying. The many, very short chapters make for a nice reading experience and give you the illusion that you can stop after this chapter or that chapter ? only to find yourself continuing because it?s just that good.