About the book
To Be A Cat is a stand alone book by Matt Haig, author of The Radleys. The book is published by The Bodley Head on 2nd February and the book is 320 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC for review.
Barney Willow thinks life couldn't get any worse. He's weedy, with sticky-out ears. Horrible Gavin Needle loves tormenting him - Barney has no idea why. And headteacher-from-hell Miss Whipmire seems determined to make every second of Barney's existence a complete misery! Worst of all, Dad has been missing for almost a year, and there's no sign of him ever coming home.
Barney just wants to escape. To find another life... Being a cat, for example. A quiet, lazy cat. Things would be so much easier - right?
Barney's about to discover just how wrong he is. Because he's about to wake up as a cat - and not just any cat. Gavin Needle's cat...
What I thought
Although I knew To Be A Cat is aimed at a younger audience than the books I would normally read, I loved The Radleys so was determined to give it a go anyway. I'm glad I did.
Having always had cats in our family, Haig drew me in by telling me that cats are magical. The book starts off with a fantastic list of the reasons why cats are magical and the different things that they can do and I loved this. Even before the story had begun, this book had a real fun and light-hearted feel to it. I was sat giggling at the things that cats do and couldn't help but think of my own cats in these situations. For anyone who owns cats, you will instantly be hooked just because of this list.
Barney was a wonderful character. Only just turning 12 years old, he is so amazingly innocent. All Barney really wants is to have a happy life again, back when his Dad was around but instead he gets bullied and has a terrible time at school. When his birthday doesn't go as planned and he has the worst day at school, everything changes for Barney and this is where the story begins. Instead of waking up the next day as normal, he instead wakes up in the body of a cat.
Secondary characters like best friend Rissa and head teacher Miss Whipmire gave the story so much depth. These characters were completely in a league of their own and they were a fantastic contrast to Barney, who I was rooting for from the very beginning. I loved, loved, loved how evil Miss Whipmire was and her reasons behind being this way. Although I knew there was a twist in the book, I wasn't quite ready for it to be this but it was certainly genius from Haig.
The story throughout was fun and exciting and something completely different. I loved the idea that cats and humans could switch bodies. I do love a good body swap film so to have it in a book with such a massive twist was great for me. I have never read a book so original. At the same time as being so creative, Haig managed to keep the story accessible to readers of all ages and I really do think that it will appeal to so many different people. I know both my older sister and my Mum would both love to read this.
Freaky Friday with cats... what more could you want?!