Skip to main content
PBS logo
Want fewer ads?

Book Reviews of Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle
Cat's Cradle
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
ISBN-13: 9780808520696
ISBN-10: 0808520695
Publication Date: 10/1999
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.

4.3 stars, based on 23 ratings
Publisher: Rebound by Sagebrush
Book Type: School Library Binding
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

25 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Cat's Cradle on
Helpful Score: 5
I was a late comer to Vonnegut. I wasn't introduced to him until a couple years after college. I also started at the end, with Man Without a Country and began working my way backward. Cat's Cradle is an amazing social commentary and frighteningly plausible. This is easily one of my top 5 books of all time.
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 80 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is the BEST book. I don't like "science fiction" but this is nothing like you've read. If you're already a Kurt Vonnegut fan, you know what I mean. I LOVE this author!
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 255 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This novel, filled with a variety of bizarre but all-too-human characters, focuses primarily on the ironic legacy of modern science, which, according to Vonnegut, promises mankind progress but only hastens the cataclysmic end of the world.
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
An interesting, fun and enjoyable read. Moves very quickly.
laceylosh avatar reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 53 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Cats Cradle is engrossing from the first chapter to the final page. The chapters are short (most are less than two pages in length) which allows the reader to fly through the book, even if its read in short bits.

The fictional story revolves around folklore and personal accounts of those who knew the late creator of the atomic bomb. A sobering topic, but Vonnegut manages to create situations with refreshing humor, satire and imagination.
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 1417 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is one I have been wanting to read for a long time. A prophet named Bokonon has created a religion that is unlike any we have known. The narrator is John, who becomes a Bokononist. To discover why and how one must read the book.

As the tale unfolds one meets Felix Hoenikker, one of the fathers of the atom bomb, whose devotion to science eventually leads to his death but how you will have to wait until the book's climax. Enter the younger Hoenikkers: Newt, a dwarf who paints; Angela, a six foot tall woman who plays the clarinet with a talent that mesmerizes all who her; and Frank, whose role in life is uncertain.

Bokononism is a satire about religion. The author ties this odd belief to science and the human condition which result in an apocalyptic event. Sadly, it is the humans involved that cause it to occur from Felix Hoenikker, to his sons and daughter to the writer, John. Could it happen today? You bet it could. This is an entertaining and reflective read, one you won't soon forget.
Shannatram avatar reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 33 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a hard one for me. It wasn't hard to read, Vonnegut is actually pretty easy to get through, he often uses short sentences and paragraphs.

Upon finishing I had no idea how I felt about the book.

A month later I still don't know. Part of me really enjoyed it. I found the satire funny and riveting. Vonnegut has an amazing ability to write characters who are almost completely flat but still make you care about them, and I felt that.

But I also didn't LIKE them- which may be the point. It was entertaining, enjoyable, and made a good point, but it was also frustrating. Probably because there isn't much redemption.

Again, I think that's the point of it all. It's the kind of thing which might not be enjoyable, but it sticks with you and has a lot of meaning and importance.

All in all I'm glad to have read it.
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I just finished Cats Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and I cant say that it will be a book Ill read again. This is my third Vonnegut book (the other two being Slaughterhouse Five and Armageddon in Retrospect) and it was far from my favorite. It lacked a lot of character and conviction that I felt was in the other books. Ive always felt that Vonnegut did not write characters that you cared for, but worlds: I never get attached to the people or the narrator of his stories, but I rejoice and mourn and everything in between for the worlds that he creates, whether or not they are a specific characters world, such as that of the old man in Armageddons Happy Birthday, 1951 or the entire world that the story takes place in, such as Wailing Shall Be in all Streets. He has a way of making a world and a place come alive as if it is a character in a way that no other writer that I have read has been able to do. And yet in Cats Cradle, I just didnt care; not about the world, not about the people, not about much of anything. Although it had several high points, for instance Bokonon, Bokononism, and the entire commentary about religion, as well as the ideas of ice-nine, but all in all it didnt really go anywhere. I think the worst part of it was that I just felt that he didnt care, and so without his conviction behind it, I didnt get any conviction at all. There was no willing suspension of disbelief, there was no emotional investment, there was no desire to get to the end of the story, just a desire to finish the book on my part.
reviewed Cat's Cradle on
Kurt's best book ever. Millions of reviews on the net.
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 296 more book reviews
This, like all of Vonnegut's books, is truly a classic, and probably should be read by everyone who is interested in a commentary on practically everything!
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 12 more book reviews
One of Vonnegut's best efforts. If you like KVJ you'll love this book.
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 296 more book reviews
A wonderful and famous book, in one of the early printings.
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 495 more book reviews
Vonnegut's best work!
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 18 more book reviews
My favorite by Vonnegout.
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 39 more book reviews
Good for what it is, but Vonnegut is not for me.
jeffp avatar reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 201 more book reviews
The most approachable Vonnegut I've read so far. A coherent story that I enjoy, characters that are interesting, and a background that - while fantastic in nature - I can suspend disbelief for. All in all, a really good book.
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 5 more book reviews
This book got me into Vonnegut. Now I can't stop.
deenie1979 avatar reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 15 more book reviews
Classic Vonnegut-weird yet very entertaining. Get's the old think tank going!
dragoneyes avatar reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 752 more book reviews
I received this book as a gift and if I wouldn't have, I don't know if I would have read it. Very glad I did.
It's about a guy doing research about the day the first atomic bomb was dropped. Through this research he meets many interesting (if not a little weird) people. Travels to San Lorenzo where he finds a culture with odd beliefs that seem to work for them. All this time looking out for Ice 9.. an invention that turns all water/moisture into ice. Which in the wrong hands can cause an ice age/apocalypse.
A subtle satire on religion, society, humanity, etc.
cmgalvin avatar reviewed Cat's Cradle on
Fun quick read.
kcrouth avatar reviewed Cat's Cradle on
Cat's Cradle is a zany yet thoughtful tale about the end of the world and all that leads up to such an event. This outrageous tale reads like one of the best social / political satire films you've ever seen, for example Dr. Strangelove. I would LOVE to see a good film adaptation of this one made! Great story!
eadieburke avatar reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 1578 more book reviews
Cat's Cradle is a satirical science fiction novel which manages to pack a powerful punch. The themes of nuclear terror, the complications of science, American imperialism, global capitalism and the role of religion in public life are still relevant today. The storyline centers on a young writer's quest to research the history of the atomic bomb, which leads to a political and apocalyptic showdown on the shores of a Island near Peru. This story is told with humor but really makes you think. Vonnegut allows us to view the world from an entirely different perspective. I am not really a fan of science fiction but I really did enjoy this book so much that I look forward to reading more of his books. I would highly recommend to fans of science fiction or philosophy and humor.
terez93 avatar reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 273 more book reviews
An apocalyptic yarn featuring some of the most profound one-liners that have ever been composed. Plenty more to say about this one, but I gotta make a quick library run before they close... back in a bit.

UPDATE: As much as I love me a good Kurt Vonnegut novel, this wasn't my favorite, although it is for many other reviewers. A novel of unrequited genius, it's still one of his more odd works, and that's really saying something. The message is likewise profound, more than in many of his other works, but it's a bit difficult to dig out, what with the text peppered with odd neologisms attributed to an obscure religion the main protagonist converts to after the end of the world.

The premise is the story of a writer who is researching the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and thus writes to Newt Hoenikker, the son of a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and father of the atomic bomb, to get his input on what his father was like and what he remembered on the day the bomb fell and the world changed forever. It's clear that father Felix never really cared for people. The writer travels to Ilium, the town where Felix lived, to tour his lab. It's there he learned of the existence of Ice-9: talk about anthropogenic climate change! This super substance was created to solve the problem of mud on the battlefield; a single drop would solidify the mud (that is, the water), but since such a small amount of it was needed, the writer soon realizes that enough of the mysterious substance existed to freeze all the water on earth. Although its existence is uncertain, Felix divided his supply among his three children shortly before his death. The three ne'er-do-wells dispatched it forthwith, for their own gratification: one son sold it to procure a generalship for himself on the island of San Lorenzo. The daughter traded her supply to secure a marriage to a scientist employed in weapons research, and the third share was stolen from the last son by a spy for the Soviet government.

Hilarity ensues.

Here's where it gets weird. All of San Lorenzo's inhabitants are apparently neophyte adherents of a bizarre new religion, Bokononism, which is essentially the religion of apathy: initially intended to turn it into a utopia, the island and its inhabitants have become so fatalistic that everything ceases to matter at all. It's clear that no amount of economic reform could induce the residents to take up anything; the religion was subsequently outlawed, and its practice was punishable by death, but this, ironically, provided the only real meaning to the lives of the miserable citizens. I won't go through the plot play-by-play, but, in the end, an accident involving a landslide releases the ice-9 into the sea, freezing all the world's water in seconds, a much worse catastrophe that that which befell Hiroshima. Death not by fire, but by ice. Turnabout is fair play, it seems. But, perhaps all is not lost: the ants who learned to thaw water suggest that it's a reversible Armageddon.

This was certainly one of KV's most creative novels, where he seemingly toyed with the idea of the apocalypse, in true Vonnegut fashion, as the inhabitants of San Lorenzo, in a rather haphazard and apathetic manner, which is perhaps the only way to write a book about the end of existence. Notwithstanding the absurdity, to the point of genius, I just couldn't get into the characters of this novel nearly as much as in the others. Notwithstanding, it's full of great one-liners and the cynical farce we've all come to know and love, so it's more than worth the effort spent reading it. My favorite: "I could carve a better man out of a banana!"
----------NOTABLE PASSAGES-------------

Do you know the story about Father on the day they first tested a bomb out at Alamogordo? 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?"

There is love in this world enough for everybody, if people will just look.

If I actually supervised Felix... then I'm ready now to take charge of volcanoes, the tides, and the migrations of birds and lemmings. The man was a force of nature no moral could possibly control.

Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.

The people down there are poor enough and scared enough and ignorant enough to have some common sense.

Those words leapt from the page into my mind, and they were welcome there.

How about miracle drugs? Father enjoys pulling of a miracle now and then.
I'm not a drug salesman. I'm a writer.
What makes you think a writer isn't a drug salesman?
I'll accept that. Guilty as charged.

How does he know what's important? I could carve a better man out of a banana.

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.

You want to respond?
I'm not that close to death just now, if you don't mind.

When it became evident that no governmental or economic reform was going to make the people much less miserable, the religion became the one real instrument of hope. Truth was the enemy of the people, because the truth was so terrible, so B. made it his business to provide the people with better and better lies.

So I said my goodbye to government.
And I gave my reason:
That a really good religion
Is a form of treason.

My God-life! Who can understand even one little minute of it?
Don't try... just pretend you understand.

Unrelieved villainy just wore him out...

Pay no attention when I laugh... I'm a notorious pervert in that respect.

It posed the question posed by all such stone piles: how had puny men moved stones so big? And, like all such stone piles, it answered the question itself. Dumb terror had moved those stones so big.

When a man becomes a writer, I think he takes on a sacred obligation to produce beauty and enlightenment and comfort at top speed.

and... finally:
"No damn cat, and no damn cradle."
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 17 more book reviews
nice copy of this classic
reviewed Cat's Cradle on + 13 more book reviews
Kurt Vonnegut. What can I say....
Want fewer ads?