Book Review: Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Oh, how I love Kurt Vonnegut.

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (Goodreads) is the third novel by him that I’ve read. And each time I reminded why I enjoy reading him so much.

386411It’s crazy to me to think that he wrote this back in the 1960’s (I think that’s right) yet everything he so masterly weaves into this novel about humanity and society is easily relevant today.

Which is slightly scary considering some of the metaphors that Vonnegut applies to humanity; particularly American society. I view Cat’s Cradle as a dark view of life and the world we live in.

Nothingness. Meaningless. Full of lies.


“No wonder kids grow up crazy. A cat’s cradle is nothing but a bunch of X’s between somebody’s hands, and little kids look and look and look at all those X’s . . .”
“No damn cat, and no damn cradle.”

There are many lies that make up our world and many different kinds of lies too. It is with these lies that we construct our reality; the world in which we choose to live. Everyone chooses different things to believe in and to trust.

“Live by the harmless untruths that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.”

Jonah, the narrator, is on the search for the truth, a journey that takes him to the end of the world and humanity. Along the way we start to slowly learn about the children of one of the fathers of the atom bomb and an invention, Ice-9, that should have never been created or left in the hands of his greedy children.

“After the thing went off, after it was a sure thing that America could wipe out a city with just one bomb, a scientist turned to Father and said, ‘Science has now known sin.’ And do you know what Father said? He said, ‘What is sin?”

The Writing

This Vonnegut novel was a little more rambling than the other two I’ve read and didn’t flow. However, I don’t think I ultimately cared about how this novel was written because it doesn’t take away the fact that there is a lot of truth hidden in the words.

The Plot

I’ve read a couple reviews where it was stated that the story started out strongly, but somewhere near the end, Jonah completely lost interest in this so called book he wanted to write and from there the story kind of petered out. But I think that’s a metaphor itself. Jonah went in search of the truth behind a man and a story and what he found was a web of lies fueled by the greedy and selfish. I think somewhere Jonah came to the point of ‘what’s the point?’ I think he was really searching for meaning; purpose. I think he did, but it kind of led him to the end of the world.

The Characters

I didn’t really connect with Jonah; it seemed liked Vonnegut was unconcerned with creating a relatable three dimensional character. But I think the characters were more like props – to act out the scenes. Though they do impart some truth regarding people:

“People have to talk about something just to keep their voice boxes in working order so they’ll have good voice boxes in case there’s ever anything really meaningful to say.”

One of my favorite things about this book that I did not anticipate were all the great quotes found within these pages! I wish I could find a way to incorporate all of them into this review, but I’m not sure I can.

I actually found it a little difficult to write this review because I think Vonnegut is the type of writer that weaves a relevant story, with a dark sense of humor, where each reader takes something different away. He does always have a way of making me think, which I like, but I also don’t like the feeling that I’m missing something.

I highly enjoyed this book and Vonnegut in general, but I understand how some might not enjoy him or his writing as much.

“Maturity…is knowing what your limitations are…Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.”

Couldn’t resist sharing another quote :)

So, I know this isn’t my best review, but tell me – have you read Cat’s Cradle?? Do you plan to or want to?

Happy Reading!




3 thoughts on “Book Review: Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

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