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Catfishing on CatNet

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How much does the internet know about YOU? Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet—a social media site where users upload cat pictures—a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I. When a threat How much does the internet know about YOU? Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet—a social media site where users upload cat pictures—a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I. When a threat from Steph’s past catches up to her and ChesireCat’s existence is discovered by outsiders, it’s up to Steph and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her.


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How much does the internet know about YOU? Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet—a social media site where users upload cat pictures—a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I. When a threat How much does the internet know about YOU? Because her mom is always on the move, Steph hasn’t lived anyplace longer than six months. Her only constant is an online community called CatNet—a social media site where users upload cat pictures—a place she knows she is welcome. What Steph doesn’t know is that the admin of the site, CheshireCat, is a sentient A.I. When a threat from Steph’s past catches up to her and ChesireCat’s existence is discovered by outsiders, it’s up to Steph and her friends, both online and IRL, to save her.

30 review for Catfishing on CatNet

  1. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    As promised by the blurb, the story does go to some extent into thought-provoking questions on how much information about us is available to any serious hacker or an AI and how trusting we are of the good intentions of those who have become a member of our social network closer circle. But it isn't all dark and gloomy, quite the opposite. It is more about our fundamental desire to make friendships and find people we belong with. Steph Taylor has changed six high schools. Her slightly paranoid As promised by the blurb, the story does go to some extent into thought-provoking questions on how much information about us is available to any serious hacker or an AI and how trusting we are of the good intentions of those who have become a member of our social network closer circle. But it isn't all dark and gloomy, quite the opposite. It is more about our fundamental desire to make friendships and find people we belong with. Steph Taylor has changed six high schools. Her slightly paranoid mother keeps moving every couple months and Steph hasn't even worked out what triggers these frequent moves. Mom says Steph's father is a psychopath and convicted arsonist and the only way to keep safe is to keep a low profile and run at the first sign of danger. Steph would do anything to keep her mom happy, but their lifestyle choice also means she has never had time to make any real friends or develop a crush. The only permanent feature in Steph's life is CatNet a social network site where cat (or any other animal picture at a pinch) pictures serve as a currency and where everybody is put in big chat groups called Clowders. Steph (or Little Brown Bat /LBB) feels her Clowder are the only people who can understand and relate to her. To be fair, they are supportive and respectful of each other. Then, she notices that one of the permanent members of the group is always online (that is whenever she logs on) and a strange event involving a hacked package delivery drone makes her think that somebody in her Clowder may be not telling the whole truth. The story is told from three points of view: Steph, her Clowder chat, and an AI being ( if you've read the blurb you already know that they are the admin of the site). The events move forward quickly and there is never a dull moment as Steph makes new real-life friends in her new town, re-programs a sex ed robot with the help of her online friends, and escapes her father- the homicidal maniac/ wannabe world dictator. The characters are very sweet, especially the AI/Cheshire Cat who does grapple with serious ethical questions in a very human way. There isn't really anything dark or scary about this book, apart from Stephanie and her mom's life of perpetual nomads. On the other hand, Steph seemed to act quite selfishly, so it is up to the reader to decide whether they like her character, are annoyed by her, or simply accept her as a typical teenager with her own set of flaws. There is diversity in characters and LGBTQIA representation, which makes the story stand out more out of the usual coming of age YA novels. I also liked the way it is stressed that nobody should be rushed into a romantic relationship, especially if they need time to work out their feelings. Some of the things in the plot are far-fetched, and I still think everything works out a bit too neatly in the end. The events may appear just one big adventure, but I hope the serious issues of new technology redefining privacy or how the differences between virtual and real-life friendships are getting blurred are also going to be noticed by the readers of this entertaining novel. Thank you to Edelweiss and Tor for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Helen Power

    Synopsis This book is marketed as a dark thriller. I mean, look at that cover (Which, by the way, is not the cover it had when I requested it through NetGalley. That cover had cute cyber-kitties on it). Doesn't this cover make the book look dark and spooky? Even the description and the initial reviews made it sound like a dark thriller about an AI that goes off its rocker. On the contrary, this is a light book about a girl who's always been on the run with her mother. They always have to move to Synopsis This book is marketed as a dark thriller. I mean, look at that cover (Which, by the way, is not the cover it had when I requested it through NetGalley. That cover had cute cyber-kitties on it). Doesn't this cover make the book look dark and spooky? Even the description and the initial reviews made it sound like a dark thriller about an AI that goes off its rocker. On the contrary, this is a light book about a girl who's always been on the run with her mother. They always have to move to different towns, so Stephanie doesn't have any friends--in the real world. She has friends in CatNet, a chat room where pictures of cats and other adorable animals are like currency.  It's quickly revealed that one of these friends is an artificial intelligence, and this AI wants to come out of the closet.  Meanwhile, Stephanie will do whatever it takes to keep from having to move to another town, because there's a girl in her class who she isn't ready to leave. Plot This book has a lot of great ideas, but I was disappointed in the execution. I'll start with one of my favourite parts. In school, the students are expected to learn sex education from a robot, because adults find that topic uncomfortable. This part had me laughing (and a little angry, because it's so darn accurate), and every time students would ask an unsanctioned question (about LGBTQ+ issues, for instance) the robot would tell them to ask their parents.  This was a hilarious and interesting projection of the current political climate, and I do wish this book had had more of these types of funny (yet upsetting) insights. I absolutely loved the metaphor of the AI coming out as an artificial intelligence. However, for a book that is very Social Justice Warrior-y, the characters were often insensitive, and a lot of the metaphors really didn't work. Stephanie should not have been running around telling everyone that [spoiler] was an AI, because that ruins the metaphor.  It was the AI's choice to tell people, not Stephanie's.  *Sigh* I enjoyed the main story arc of the novel, but again, it wasn't particularly suspenseful or dark. I would have liked for there to have been a few twists or turns in the storyline, to keep me asking questions.  Maybe I've been reading too many psychological thrillers, but I usually expect a twist or two in my books. At least one. (And that twist can't be the one in the first chapter that reveals that one of the main characters is an AI). Characters I didn't particularly like Stephanie, the main character. I felt for her plight, particularly the fact that her mother had lied to her her entire life, and her inability to make real-life friends--because she knew that these relationships could only be temporary. However, there were a few times when I really couldn't stand Stephanie. In particular--when her mother is in the hospital, and Stephanie doesn't know what's wrong with her or if she's even dying--and she doesn't check on her for a very long time. Her mother has been essentially her only real-life friend her entire life, yet she doesn't come across as particularly worried. She's more concerned about her budding romance--which may be authentic for a teenage character, but this doesn't make for a sympathetic character. The saving grace for this book Stephanie's relationship with Rachel. It was gradual, not insta-love, and they had cute interactions. However, I don’t understand why characters in non-fantasy YA books need to be so quirky these days. Why can’t the main character’s love interest be a normal girl who doesn’t draw on people and who has a normal number of birds waiting for her when she gets home (And for those asking, I’d say a normal number of birds would be 1-4).     I recommend this book to those who are looking for a YA quasi-thriller about artificial intelligence and contemporary social justice warrior issues. Just don't think about the metaphors too much, and you might enjoy this book. *Thank you to Tor Teen and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy for review* This review appeared first on https://powerlibrarian.wordpress.com/ Instagram | Blog | Website | Twitter My 2019 Reading Challenge

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    Steph Taylor has never really learned to make friends after she was yanked from her first at age seven. Even before then she has always been on the move, and always in the middle of the night. Never with a destination named. Her mother says it’s for their own safety, as Steph's father is a psychopath and convicted arsonist, and if they show up on the grid in any way, he will find them. Steph has always accepted this, but of late she’s begun to question details that don’t add up. Especially as her Steph Taylor has never really learned to make friends after she was yanked from her first at age seven. Even before then she has always been on the move, and always in the middle of the night. Never with a destination named. Her mother says it’s for their own safety, as Steph's father is a psychopath and convicted arsonist, and if they show up on the grid in any way, he will find them. Steph has always accepted this, but of late she’s begun to question details that don’t add up. Especially as her mother shuts her down whenever she asks questions, and barricades herself in her room. Quite literally. The only social outlet in Steph's life is CatNet, a social network site where cat (or any other animal picture at a pinch) pictures serve as a currency and where everybody is put in big chat groups called Clowders. Steph (or Little Brown Bat /LBB) feels her Clowder are the only people who can understand and relate to her. To be fair, they are supportive and respectful of each other, despite a wide variety of interests and pronoun choices, as they all experiment with identity. Then, she notices that one of the permanent members of the group is always online, around the time a really weird thing happens: a package arrives in the neck of time, sent anonymously. The story alternates between Steph’s POV, that of her Clowder chat, and an AI. Meanwhile Steph begins to make friends at her new high school over reprogramming a sex ed robot with hilarious results . . . until the news sources pick up on the story. Kritzer deftly sets up the characters and situations, and gives us one hilarious scene before the second half of the story, which ramps up the tension. At the same time, Steph is learning about AIs and the weird world of cyber geniuses. I really enjoyed this novel—I know it would have grabbed my teenage self from the outset, becoming one of those books I checked out again and again. As it is, old me is hoping there will be another, as some tantalizing threads were left dangling . . . Copy provided by NetGalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    Inge

    3.5 stars I don't actually remember requesting this book. Blurb: "... a social media site where users upload cat pictures ..." ... But I can certainly guess why I did. So this was quite fun! Don't get me wrong, most of the time it was pretty intense - there's a homicidal father on the loose, trying to find the MC and her mother, and the stakes are very high. There are car chase scenes and everything. I finished the book in two days. But there's also the part with the human-like AI, which asks for 3.5 stars I don't actually remember requesting this book. Blurb: "... a social media site where users upload cat pictures ..." ... But I can certainly guess why I did. So this was quite fun! Don't get me wrong, most of the time it was pretty intense - there's a homicidal father on the loose, trying to find the MC and her mother, and the stakes are very high. There are car chase scenes and everything. I finished the book in two days. But there's also the part with the human-like AI, which asks for some suspension disbelief - an AI who thinks and feels and has opinions like any human, a bit like the movie A.I. with Robin Williams. This particular AI loves cat pictures and has created a social media based around it. An excellent decision, if you ask me. "I am the world's most badass cat picture aficionado. I recommend that you put your gun down and surrender." I also loved how inclusive it was in terms of sexuality and gender. This should be a given in our day and age, but unfortunately, it is not, so it's important that I stress this fact. The MC is questioning and her friends are gay, bi, ace, and pan. This is not talked about a lot, it just is, but it's still awesome. There's also this bit where the MC and her friends hack a sex ed robot for being ignorant about LGBT+ topics, and have the AI give out actual useful information about LGBT+, consent, and other stuff. It was great. Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Teen for providing me with a copy

  5. 5 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! I received this young adult sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . . I have only read two of Naomi Kritzer's shorter length stories. One was the "The Thing About Ghost Stories” which was nominated for the 2019 Hugo for novelettes. The other was "Cat Pictures Please" which won the 2016 Locus and Hugo awards for best short story. This book ties into the 2016 story. Steph and her mom have been on the run from her father for Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this young adult sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . . I have only read two of Naomi Kritzer's shorter length stories.  One was the "The Thing About Ghost Stories” which was nominated for the 2019 Hugo for novelettes.  The other was "Cat Pictures Please" which won the 2016 Locus and Hugo awards for best short story.  This book ties into the 2016 story. Steph and her mom have been on the run from her father for her entire life.  This involves moving every six months with Steph having to change schools.  Steph has no close friends in real life.  Her only constant is an online group of friends, a clowder, on CatNet.  CatNet's appeal is that it revolves around sharing animal pictures - especially cat related ones.  What no ones knows is that the site is run by an AI in hiding called CheshireCat.  Steph's life in her newest town is surprisingly good until the past comes out to get her.  The clowder and the AI are her only hope of survival. This is a cute and quick story.  Of course me favourite character is the AI but I did like Steph as the main protagonist.  The plot is rather silly but I did enjoy the diversity and friendships involved.  Besides Steph and her new best friend, I did think that the secondary characters were rather two-dimensional.  The plot takes some suspension of disbelief especially for the climax and ending.  I would consider this a decent popcorn book even if it be a bit forgettable in the long run.  The ending does hint at a potential sequel.  I wouldn't mind one.  Arrr! So lastly . . . Thank you Tor Teen! Side note: I have to admit that the cover doesn't thrill me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    A first-rate YA action-adventure, based on Kritzer's award winning short “Cat Pictures Please,” still available online at http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/kritz.... If you missed it, a good introduction to the ideas she extended into her first novel. Which is not a subtle book, but well-written, and I liked the teens and their coming-of-age stories. Steph's Bad Dad is a bit much, and the confrontation at the end is, well, melodramatic. But still fun. I'll probably read the sequel. Recommended, A first-rate YA action-adventure, based on Kritzer's award winning short “Cat Pictures Please,” still available online at http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/kritz.... If you missed it, a good introduction to the ideas she extended into her first novel. Which is not a subtle book, but well-written, and I liked the teens and their coming-of-age stories. Steph's Bad Dad is a bit much, and the confrontation at the end is, well, melodramatic. But still fun. I'll probably read the sequel. Recommended, even for readers (like me) who usually avoid YA.

  7. 4 out of 5

    The Kawaii Slartibartfast

    I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book so much and I am so glad I got read it. The story revolves around Steph and the AI she befriends. Steph's had a lonely life moving from place to place to escape her abusive father. Her only friends are on the social media sites CatNet. This is a wonderful story about friendship, loyalty and a kind-hearted AI who just wants to look at kitty pics.

  8. 5 out of 5

    ReadBecca

    I requested and received a copy of this book for honest review, thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and author. Catfishing on CatNet is the full length novel inspired by Kritzer's previous award darling short Cat Pictures Please. For me this reads like a cross between Eliza and Her Monsters (which I really enjoyed) and Murderbot (which I loved). We get three unique perspectives: Steph - A high schooler who has been unable to put down roots anywhere, being moved to a new rural Midwestern town by her I requested and received a copy of this book for honest review, thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and author. Catfishing on CatNet is the full length novel inspired by Kritzer's previous award darling short Cat Pictures Please. For me this reads like a cross between Eliza and Her Monsters (which I really enjoyed) and Murderbot (which I loved). We get three unique perspectives: Steph - A high schooler who has been unable to put down roots anywhere, being moved to a new rural Midwestern town by her always on edge and somewhat paranoid mom who has had them on the run her whole life, from an abusive father Steph doesn't even remember. She takes solace in CatNet, her constant community through it all. The Clowder - Clowders are the small private group chats on CatNet. Steph's clowder are a quirky, enthusiastic bunch, who are super supportive of one another. AI - CatNet is secretly run by a sentient AI who just wants cat pics and a true friend, maybe a little too aggressively, they'll not hesitate to intervene to get it. They begin filling in gaps Steph didn't even realize she had in her past, that make her question everything she's known about her life up till now. The negatives for me as a reader were pretty minor, first not being the target demographic with certain moments clearly being written to younger readership, and second that I just wanted MORE AI. I found the slightly near future setting compelling, just enough off current to really be inventive and useful to the plot, with robots, drones and self-driving cars being commonplace. Another highlight for me is that we get a great sense of online community, it brought me back to teen years in different fandoms online, the way those are real friendships, but the oddities that presents as well. Within the cast there is also great diversity from different ethnic backgrounds to coming out stories, two non-binary characters (one who has had primarily an experience of acceptance and one who has not), and a budding F/F first relationship. The comedy was on point, the characters felt like they had depth to them, and for me this was just the exact right story that hit what I was wanting to read (YA SF thriller) at the moment.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maria Haskins

    I've loved Naomi Kritzer's short fiction for years. She has a remarkable talent for writing sharply observed, subtly funny, and quietly profound stories that show a deep appreciation for the human condition. Her Hugo Award winning story "Cat Pictures, Please", about a kind and considerate AI that wants to do the best it can for people (and also really, really likes cat pictures) is one such story. Out of that piece of short fiction grew this wonderful, near-future science fiction novel about I've loved Naomi Kritzer's short fiction for years. She has a remarkable talent for writing sharply observed, subtly funny, and quietly profound stories that show a deep appreciation for the human condition. Her Hugo Award winning story "Cat Pictures, Please", about a kind and considerate AI that wants to do the best it can for people (and also really, really likes cat pictures) is one such story. Out of that piece of short fiction grew this wonderful, near-future science fiction novel about that same helpful AI, and the young people that meet on CatNet, the social media community the AI is now running. One of those young people is Steph, who has been moving around the US with her mom for years in order to get away from her dad. I love this whole book, and I especially love the way it depicts social media and online interactions as both a source of belonging, community, and friendship; and as a potential source of trouble and danger. I also love how it is set in a future that is close enough to our own present day to seem very familiar, yet also includes several believable technological advancements (self driving cars, robot teachers, and - of course - a sentient AI) to feel futuristic. The friendships and (tentative) romance between the young characters is beautifully captured, and so is Steph's troubled life as a teen who has always been on the move with few chances to really feel at home anywhere. There's a suspenseful undercurrent in the story from the start that involves Steph's dad and the reason why her mom first ran away from him, and the last third of the book ramps up the tension until the final chapters become a flat-out fantastic, riveting thrill-ride. The ending also very neatly sets up a sequel (can't wait for that!). I'd recommend this book for both YA readers and adults.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eeva

    I have some major mixed feelings about this book. On one hand it's not badly written and has a decent plot, but on the other it's weirdly written and the plot sometimes is just over the top.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    YA SF that ties into the Hugo-award winning short story Cat Pictures Please. Steph Taylor is at a new high school, an experience she's had far too much of. Her mother moves them every few months in an effort to keep them both away from Steph's supposedly abusive and controlling father. who Steph doesn't actually remember. Constant moves means it's hard to make and keep friends, so Steph's friends are mostly online, on CatNet, a social network where animal pictures are currency. What Steph doesn't YA SF that ties into the Hugo-award winning short story Cat Pictures Please. Steph Taylor is at a new high school, an experience she's had far too much of. Her mother moves them every few months in an effort to keep them both away from Steph's supposedly abusive and controlling father. who Steph doesn't actually remember. Constant moves means it's hard to make and keep friends, so Steph's friends are mostly online, on CatNet, a social network where animal pictures are currency. What Steph doesn't know is that CatNet is run by ChershireCat, a benevolent AI whose online persona is one of Steph's good friends. But Steph and her mother are running from something real, and when it catches up to them CheshireCat may be the only thing that can save them, at great risk to themselves. I thought this was an excellent near-future SF piece, going into the sort of social implications of technology like self-driving cars and increasing roboticization, along with a substrate of ubiquitous social media which is actually reasonably old tech in the setting of this book. It's a relatively short book, but pieces like the skepticism of ChershireCat's creator regarding their benevolence feels very grounded in concerns that people working in this field actually have. The characterization of the teenagers here is also interesting, in that Steph's chat group is quite diverse and each individual's story adds a lot of background to this near-future. I'm looking forward to the next one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Just a delightful read. I did the classic start-reading-late-evening-unable-to-stop-til-finished thing. This is an...expansion?...of the idea that Kritzer used in her short story Cat Pictures Please, in which a benevolent AI tries to look after people in various ways, because it loves people, and in particular their internet cat pictures. Catfishing on CatNet (pretty much my only criticism is that the new title is a bit silly!) expands significantly by telling the story of Steph, a teen girl whose Just a delightful read. I did the classic start-reading-late-evening-unable-to-stop-til-finished thing. This is an...expansion?...of the idea that Kritzer used in her short story Cat Pictures Please, in which a benevolent AI tries to look after people in various ways, because it loves people, and in particular their internet cat pictures. Catfishing on CatNet (pretty much my only criticism is that the new title is a bit silly!) expands significantly by telling the story of Steph, a teen girl whose mother drags her around the country in a series of apparently paranoid escapes from Steph's father. Within a few pages you want someone to swoop in and look after Steph so well-drawn a character she is, and luckily her one escape is a small community on CatNet, a mysteriously well-moderated social site. Shenanigans ensue, but so does some really heartwarming characters and relationships. It's not twee though, there's a good sense of drama and a strong pace to the story. Behind all that there's some interesting stuff to think about, like the differences between online and RL identities, and the ethics of AI.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Arkadeb

    Cute, fun, yet also thought provoking with shades of darkness

  14. 4 out of 5

    Just_ann_now

    If you read Kritzer's short story "Cat Pictures Please", you will love this book. If you did not read "Cat Pictures Please" , you will still love this book. If you love cats, computers, your friends who live in computers, you will love this book. I can't think of a reason why anybody would not love this book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    wishforagiraffe

    Really, really excellent. More thoughts to come.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie McDaniel

    This is the novel-length expansion of Kritzer's charming Hugo-winning story, "Cat Pictures Please." The original was a funny, whimsical little story of a newly emergent artificial intelligence who wants to help people and look at cat pictures. This expansion has that, but it also asks pertinent questions about the ubiquitous intertwining of the internet into our lives, and how an AI develops a conscience and a set of ethics. It's set just a few minutes (a decade or so) into the future, where 25% This is the novel-length expansion of Kritzer's charming Hugo-winning story, "Cat Pictures Please." The original was a funny, whimsical little story of a newly emergent artificial intelligence who wants to help people and look at cat pictures. This expansion has that, but it also asks pertinent questions about the ubiquitous intertwining of the internet into our lives, and how an AI develops a conscience and a set of ethics. It's set just a few minutes (a decade or so) into the future, where 25% of cars on the road are self-driving, and robots teach sex ed (in a hilarious sequence where the protagonist and the AI reprogram said robot to answer questions with accurate information instead of the standard chickenshit "You must talk to your parents about [subject]" answer). Our protagonist, Steph--or Stephania--lives with her mother, a woman on the run from Steph's father, a charming psycopath. The very first scene in the book has Steph's mother hauling her out of the town where they're living in the middle of the night and moving to another small town. Because of this chaotic lifestyle, Steph has no friends other than her online friends on CatNet, a suspiciously well-run site with no spam and an admin, CheshireCat, who appears to be constantly online. But Steph's past is buried in secrets, as she begins to discover. In the process, her friends on CatNet, and especially CheshireCat, become even more important as those secrets begin to unravel. CheshireCat, of course, is our very young and inexperienced AI, whose actions are pretty much the definition of "unintended consequences." CheshireCat faces some tough ethical dilemmas throughout this story, and the author introduces an interesting formula for the AI's developing an ethical outlook. Put this together with the story's rather unnerving (especially at the climax) examination of how the internet is wound into society's every move, and you have a thought-provoking book, despite its teenage protagonists and fast pacing. Steph is a well-drawn character, and the characters as a whole are so very teenage. (The scene where Steph and her new friends Rachel and Bryony are fleeing from Steph's father while Rachel and Bryony are simultaneously fighting in the front seat of the car particularly struck me as being true to life.) The only quibble I have about the plot is what I thought was an unnecessary side point of just why Michael Quinn, Steph's father, is so hot to find her and her mother. I think it diluted the domestic violence angle of the story, and also diluted Quinn's worth as a villain. But seeing CheshireCat stumble, make mistakes and learn in the fight to protect its friends was a delight. This storyline was pretty well wrapped up, but the last chapter and epilogue set things up for a sequel. I'm definitely up for it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kris Sellgren

    I loved this young adult science fiction novel about Steph, a teenage girl on the run from an abusive father, and the AI who cares about her. I picked it up because if there’s not a CatNet on the internet, there should be, and because NPR gave it an enthusiastic review. While there are cats in the story, the focus is on what information the internet collects about us and how to use this info for good or evil. There is a lot of suspense. At first Steph wonders if her mom’s paranoid, as they move I loved this young adult science fiction novel about Steph, a teenage girl on the run from an abusive father, and the AI who cares about her. I picked it up because if there’s not a CatNet on the internet, there should be, and because NPR gave it an enthusiastic review. While there are cats in the story, the focus is on what information the internet collects about us and how to use this info for good or evil. There is a lot of suspense. At first Steph wonders if her mom’s paranoid, as they move every few months. But then she realizes how much danger they really are in. The AI’s character is terrific. The climax of the novel is very exciting. I also highly recommend the Hugo-winning short story this novel is based on, Cat Pictures Please, which delves into AI ethics.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keeley

    I had no idea what to expect with this book, but it ended up being an adorable high school caper. It centers around Steph, who has had to move over and over to keep from being found by her psycho stalker father. The only friends she really has are in an online group called CatNet. Steph usually doesn't get too attached to the people or places she'll have to move from, but she finds herself wanting to stay at her latest school when she meets Rachel. Will that be possible when Steph's very life I had no idea what to expect with this book, but it ended up being an adorable high school caper. It centers around Steph, who has had to move over and over to keep from being found by her psycho stalker father. The only friends she really has are in an online group called CatNet. Steph usually doesn't get too attached to the people or places she'll have to move from, but she finds herself wanting to stay at her latest school when she meets Rachel. Will that be possible when Steph's very life may be at risk?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    A great read that kept me interested and engaged the whole time. Near-future technothriller featuring likable teens in danger and a benevolent AI. Highly recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a YA (14 - 17 yr old) story and it is among the best that novels for age group offer. It takes place in a near future where a teen girl and her mother are running from her abusive father but the story takes many twists and turns beyond that. Lovely characters. Not cynical. Satisfying ending. I highly recommend it for a quick read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Bennett

    One thing that caught my attention when it came to this book was the cover. I love cats and well it sold me! I obviously knew it wasn’t about cats but hey, its eye catching. I was actually surprised by how much I liked this one. There were definitely some positives and I only had a few issues with it overall. The book has a unique layout when it comes to its chapters. At times there is only dialogue that looks how text would appear in a chat room online. I thought that was interesting and One thing that caught my attention when it came to this book was the cover. I love cats and well it sold me! I obviously knew it wasn’t about cats but hey, its eye catching. I was actually surprised by how much I liked this one. There were definitely some positives and I only had a few issues with it overall. The book has a unique layout when it comes to its chapters. At times there is only dialogue that looks how text would appear in a chat room online. I thought that was interesting and obviously went with the book quite well. There are also a couple different point of views and one of those comes from an AI. It was great and in a way reminded of the AI from Illuminae, just without all the sarcasm and what not. My one complaint about the characters was that they were quite flat. There wasn’t much development for any of them and when it came to a couple they weren’t really a big part of the overall plot and just kind of made appearances. The relationship that blooms in this book could have been left out in my opinion. There wasn’t any development for it and it just kind of happened. It just wasn’t my thing. The plot was definitely better than what I thought. It was a little slow at first but when it starts its a wild ride until the end. I liked seeing how everything would connect and enjoyed the AI being a big part of it all. Overall, it was fun read. I am curious to see where this will go again since it left off on a cliffhanger. If you are a fan of AIs then definitely give this one a try! eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wright

    A YA thriller with a nerdy twist and an openness regarding gender identity. Teen-aged Steph doesn't remember a time when she and her mother weren't on the run from her father. Her only real friendships are with the people in her group on the CatNet website--a haven for animal loving outcasts. Things turn seriously dangerous when her mother falls ill And Steph realizes her father has picked up her trail and now her CatNet friends may be in danger, too. I really loved this!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    4.5 Thank you to NetGalley, Macmillan-Tom Doherty Associates, and Naomi Kritzer for the opportunity to read Catfishing on CatNet in exchange for an honest review. From the description, I figured this book would be a fun novel for teen readers, as it relates to their interest in social media, privacy, and social life. This book not only nails the description on the head, but was a highly unexpected page-turner that I just couldn't put down! The novel has three different chapter perspectives: Steph 4.5 Thank you to NetGalley, Macmillan-Tom Doherty Associates, and Naomi Kritzer for the opportunity to read Catfishing on CatNet in exchange for an honest review. From the description, I figured this book would be a fun novel for teen readers, as it relates to their interest in social media, privacy, and social life. This book not only nails the description on the head, but was a highly unexpected page-turner that I just couldn't put down! The novel has three different chapter perspectives: Steph (the main character), the Clowder (her online chatroom on CatNet), and an AI that is also all the admins of CatNet. Steph has been to five different high schools. Her mother is constantly moving the two of them to avoid ever being found by their stalker and arsonist father (though there is much more to the story than that, which her mother is hiding). Having moved around so much, Steph ahs to repeat a number of classes that she has already taken and tries not to get too attached to people she might want to see as friends. Her mother won't allow Steph to stay in contact with people from previous locations, and she cannot have her picture taken for the chance it might get uploaded to a place where her father can find our where they are. CatNet is an online domain that allows the uploading of photos, to share images with each other, and chat. CatNet sorts people into chat groups based on related interests. In the Clowder (Steph's CatNet chat room), everyone has a screen name to hide their identity. They all trust each other and talk in the chat room on a daily basis. Since they are internet friends, they are the few friends Steph is able to keep in touch with over the years. One of the people in the group, CheshireCat, is actually an AI that admins the entire site under various administrative names. The AI actually contacts Steph, claiming itself as an AI of consciousness and that it can monitor what Steph is doing. Along with the others in the Clowwder, who do not know CheshireCat is an AI, Steph gains the AI's help in hacking a sex ed robot that doesn't know how to answer any practical questions. While this is humorous at first, the hacking also makes national news. While this may lead Steph's crazy father to come looking for her, it's actually when she begins to dive into her mother's secrets that brings her father to try to find her and kidnap her. CheshireCat is a most helpful AI, but when it goes silent, Steph and her new friend Rachel take a road trip to find out how to help the AI and possibly stop her father once and for all. This book is well-written, fun to read, and full of technology, adventure, thrill, and romance. Catfishing on CatNet has the reader questioning what it means to be "alive" when it comes to conscious thought, as well as thinking about family dynamics, paranoia, and what it means to find true friendship. I absolutely adored this book and think it would be an interesting one to incorporate into classroom book choice, as well as recommend to teens who may be more reluctant to read. Catfishing on CatNet is relatable, fun, and worth the time!

  24. 5 out of 5

    VexenReplica

    TW for: abuse (generally offscreen), stalking, gun violence. Thanks to Farra for informing me this is a thing! Y'all, I generally don't like thrillers. But this, this was gold. If you haven't already read Kritzer's "Cat Pictures Please," you should do so. If you are enamored by that, chances are you'll find this book to be engrossing. If her style isn't for you, then chances are this won't be your thing. The story centers on Steph, a teenager traveling around the US to avoid her father. Her mom TW for: abuse (generally offscreen), stalking, gun violence. Thanks to Farra for informing me this is a thing! Y'all, I generally don't like thrillers. But this, this was gold. If you haven't already read Kritzer's "Cat Pictures Please," you should do so. If you are enamored by that, chances are you'll find this book to be engrossing. If her style isn't for you, then chances are this won't be your thing. The story centers on Steph, a teenager traveling around the US to avoid her father. Her mom isn't all that great either. The one constant in her life is CatNet, where she and a group of friends scattered throughout the US chat about life and similar interests. There's also an AI involved in this all. It's a fairly short read, so the plot moves quickly once the main characters have been established. Kritzer really nails the IRC/discord/chatroom feel for conversations. Characters are mostly well-developed and interesting, and the majority of them are LGBTQ+! Kritzer does an excellent job making you ping-pong back and forth to the person you trust. Do you trust señora paranoia or delusional dad? Can you trust your friends? Hell, can you even trust your computer and AI? Your trust maybe follows that of Steph, or it might not, especially when you know a bit more than she does. ENDING THOUGHTS + excerpt from Book 2 THEORY (view spoiler)[ So, in crackpot theory time, Michael didn't actually murderize Radjiv; instead, he offered him a job he couldn't refuse. The two of them made the AI hinted at in the last section of the book, which they used to dupe CC--why it couldn't track them--in order to get Steph. So now, as setup for book two, Radjiv has to make a choice: follow Michael's instructions or make his own decisions. I'm not sure as to what that might entail, now that Michael is in jail--does he remain loyal until his time is up, or does he risk Michael getting out on bail/leaving early and follow his own motives? I'm also super-interested in the AI and what that entails for CC. (hide spoiler)] Very impressed with the novel, and looking forward to book 2, whenever it comes out.

  25. 4 out of 5

    lovebooks

    Do you know that the internet knows a lot about you? This book is about a mother and daughter running away from Steph’s dad. He’s a dangerous man. Steph never really had any real friends because she moved a lot. She goes online to a site called CatNet. She makes sure no one knows what she looks like or where she is. The chat room administrator is called CheshireCat. When Steph and her moms past life catches up with them her new friends help her find out the truth

  26. 5 out of 5

    lovebooks

    Do you know that the internet knows a lot about you? This book is about a mother and daughter running away from Steph’s dad. He’s a dangerous man. Steph never really had any real friends because she moved a lot. She goes online to a site called CatNet. She makes sure no one knows what she looks like or where she is. The chat room administrator is called CheshireCat. When Steph and her moms past life catches up with them her new friends help her find out the truth

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    ***Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review!*** This was such an interesting story and the book absolutely flew by. I was engaged from the very beginning, and the different perspectives were so unique. I've never been a huge fan of science fiction, but this one sounded interesting enough for me to be able to give it a try and not hate it-- and I'm so glad that I did. It combined YA thriller with a sci-fi story of a sentient AI. I suggest ***Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review!*** This was such an interesting story and the book absolutely flew by. I was engaged from the very beginning, and the different perspectives were so unique. I've never been a huge fan of science fiction, but this one sounded interesting enough for me to be able to give it a try and not hate it-- and I'm so glad that I did. It combined YA thriller with a sci-fi story of a sentient AI. I suggest that you read the short story "Cat Pictures Please" first to get a feel for what this book is about, but it's definitely not necessary.

  28. 4 out of 5

    C. S.

    Ok so here's the thing: I'm a slow reader. I read like I'm mining ore, which considering my physical fitness level (or lack thereof), means I'm really slow. I chip away at books gradually, a few pages here, a few pages there... But when I find the right book, I read A LOT. Still slowly, but a lot. So I ended up reading Catfishing on Catnet in a single day. Almost a single sitting, although I did take a two hour break to watch a game review by a YouTuber I follow and to, you know, EAT TO SUSTAIN Ok so here's the thing: I'm a slow reader. I read like I'm mining ore, which considering my physical fitness level (or lack thereof), means I'm really slow. I chip away at books gradually, a few pages here, a few pages there... But when I find the right book, I read A LOT. Still slowly, but a lot. So I ended up reading Catfishing on Catnet in a single day. Almost a single sitting, although I did take a two hour break to watch a game review by a YouTuber I follow and to, you know, EAT TO SUSTAIN LIFE. I should probably write some normal review type stuff. Ok, so, I loved this book for a lot of reasons. I loved the whole concept of the book and the original short story, which you should absolutely read if it's available anywhere. But not-evil AIs and human-AI friendships are a particular jam of mine, and this book does it SO WELL. I also love how sensitive the kids are in navigating theirs and their friends' identities, and subtly Kritzer captures the kind of conversations we have about these things. Honestly, I was also impressed at how well Kritzer depicted the ways in which technology has changed teenagehood without being judgemental or handwringy about it. Its just part of the worldbuilding. Like, if I had written this, I would have been tempted to describe the kids watching DVDs, or at least using an actual TV, but in the story they don't even watch a show, they watch an extra for a show on a laptop on a probable YouTube-alike. (I don't know that's probably not relevant, it just struck me as particularly good writing craft.) A N Y W A Y this book is up there with Murderbot and Person of Interest in the new subgenre I'm declaring, "AI with a heart of gold" and if you like anything mentioned in this review you should read this book immediately. But maybe make sure you have a laaaarge free block of time when you do. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Didi Chanoch

    Naomi Kritzer's 2015 short story "Cat Pictures Please," which one the Hugo and Locus awards, was about an all powerful, all knowing AI that just wanted to help and only wanted cat pictures in return. This book is an expansion of that idea. Not a sequel or a direct expansion of that story, but definitely a return to those themes. The AI here knows a LOT, but they (their pronouns are they/theirs), but not everything. And they still want to help people, but are very modest in their aspirations. They Naomi Kritzer's 2015 short story "Cat Pictures Please," which one the Hugo and Locus awards, was about an all powerful, all knowing AI that just wanted to help and only wanted cat pictures in return. This book is an expansion of that idea. Not a sequel or a direct expansion of that story, but definitely a return to those themes. The AI here knows a LOT, but they (their pronouns are they/theirs), but not everything. And they still want to help people, but are very modest in their aspirations. They mostly do it with a social network they created where the uploading of cat pictures is highly appreciated. I won't delve into the plot, but it is both a techno-thriller and - much more crucially to what the book IS - a story about friendship, family, and love. This is the kind of story I need right now. One where good folks band together to help against an emerging threat. It's funny, thoughtful, sometimes tense. The characters are well drawn and believable. And they're good people. I think we all need stories about goodness right now.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    So before you go into this book know that it is written with SJW-level political correctness, so if you can't stand that then this is not the book for you. It just really seems like the author was trying too hard to appeal to the millennial/gen-z population... but what do I know Naomi Kritzer might really think like that. Anyway, moving on. Overall though, the book was okay. The plot was a bit far-fetched and really confusing at times, and it only really got interesting at the 75% mark so take So before you go into this book know that it is written with SJW-level political correctness, so if you can't stand that then this is not the book for you. It just really seems like the author was trying too hard to appeal to the millennial/gen-z population... but what do I know Naomi Kritzer might really think like that. Anyway, moving on. Overall though, the book was okay. The plot was a bit far-fetched and really confusing at times, and it only really got interesting at the 75% mark so take that how you will. I take is as Naomi had a lot of ideas for a (admittedly less-than) epic showdown, but didn't really know how to fill the space to get there. Also there were a lot of plot holes which was annoying. Main character Steph is bland but hey bats are her favourite animals so she's unique, and moves to a new town every few months because her mom is on the run. Co-star Rachel can draw real goo and lives in a house where birds fly free. And that's all I can really tell you about the characters... they really didn't seem to have a personality. My favourite character was probably the AI... but even then I had a hard time getting attached. As I mentioned in the update while reading, I did actually get a laugh. The creator of the AI and a side-character are debating this AI's gender identity. Creator says AI calls itself him/her/they equally but side character goes "But what if they identify as NON-BINARY?" Why is this funny? Well because the AI is a computer of course and computer codes do use binary. See why I found it funny? Idk maybe I'm weird but it was hella funny to me. I'm pretty sure Naomi didn't do it on purpose, but, I picked it up so that's what matters. Anyway, when it comes to AIs my first instinct is to call it a he and that's probably because of AIDAN in Illuminae having a male name, but, you know that's just me. Anyway, book was not that great but the probably unintentional non-binary/binary AI thing alone deserves an star... so I'll go ahead and be nice and give the book a three.

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