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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

Against the Paw
Diane Kelly
Progress: 48/352 pages
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World
Abigail Revasch, Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Tara Sands, Listening Library
Progress: 67/473 minutes
The Mystic Marriage
Heather Rose Jones
Progress: 302/426 pages
Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
Kazuto Tatsuta
Progress: 448/553 pages
The Naked Sun
Isaac Asimov
Progress: 20/187 pages
50 Girls 50 and Other Stories
Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Gary Groth
Jennifer Foehner Wells
Progress: 58/367 pages
Ratha's Creature (Named) - Clare Bell I first read this book when I was younger, and the only thing I could remember about it was that all its characters were cats and that one of the prominent characters died horribly and tragically of a crushed ribcage. I made the mistake of trying to hunt the book down via Google searches, and, after turning up nothing but veterinary information and things too horrific for me to want to remember clearly, I finally turned to the catalog of the library I used when I was younger. By searching for "cats fiction" and limiting my search to the library's young adult location, I found the book in a couple minutes.My younger self had a greater tolerance for tragedy than I do now. Although I wouldn't say that this book ended very badly for Ratha, the main character, there was still more death and pain in this book than I remembered. By the end of the book, Ratha has experienced being an outcast on at least two occasions, her clan has nearly been wiped out, several cats have died horrible deaths, and Ratha's children turned out to be a huge disappointment to her. My younger self lapped this kind of stuff up. I, as I am now, had to push myself to make it to the book's ending. I had originally planned on reading the second book in the series, but now I'm not so sure. It's not that Ratha's Creature was a bad book, it's just that I don't think books like this are a good fit for me anymore.Even though all the tragedy, pain, and death weren't my cup of tea, the book did have long stretches of things I really enjoyed. After Ratha became an outcast from her clan, she had to learn to live on her own. At first, she wasn't very successful. Ratha is smart, and her ideas about hunting seemed logical enough to her, but they weren't quite good enough. She's more than capable of learning from her mistakes, but her mistakes meant starvation. Her miserable situation forced her to accept the help of one of the Un-Named, a cat she decided to call Bonechewer. I loved reading about Bonechewer teaching Ratha to hunt and take care of herself.I had forgotten almost all of the events in this book, so I was able to almost read this as though I were reading it for the first time. I kept reading because I was interested in finding out more about the Un-Named and, after Ratha got pregnant, I wanted to see her cubs and how things would turn out for them. Before Ratha was kicked out her clan, I wanted to see her triumph over Meoran's hidebound "females can't be herders" ideas. I also enjoyed reading about Ratha experimenting with her little flame - from her perspective, the flame was a living creature, and that was how she treated it.However, just about every event in the book had some sort of painful/tragic aspect, which got to be almost too much for me.I am amazed that the only thing about this book that stuck with me over the years was the cat who died of a crushed ribcage. That is by far not the only thing I would have thought would make a big impression on my young mind, which just goes to show you how many things you probably don't have to worry will scar your kids forever. I'm now convinced that it is absolutely impossible to predict what will stick in the minds of young readers and what won't. I remembered the cat with a crushed ribcage, probably because it was part of the tragic ending of a semi-romantic storyline. I did not remember that Ratha went into heat, that Ratha had sex (Bell doesn't give detailed descriptions, but there's enough there to make it clear that Ratha did have sex and that it hurt), that one character died horribly of a flaming stick jammed into his lower jaw, that Ratha almost killed one of her own cubs, and that Ratha's teacher, Thakur, had his eye on her as a potential mate.This book was darker than I expected. I knew that it would have some dark moments, because I remembered the crushed ribcage bit, but I hadn't expected it to be quite this dark. Even the adventure and action scenes are tempered by the knowledge that characters are getting hurt or dying - this is not the kind of book where action scenes are intended to be cool.I'm glad I reread the book, because I'd forgotten enough for it to still be an interesting read, and it gave me a new appreciation for the kinds of things that did not have a lasting effect on my younger self (I'll try to keep that in mind if I ever have kids of my own). However, I don't think I'm going to hunt down the next book. There's only so much death, destruction, and tragedy I can stand.(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)