Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut | Book Review

It’s 2022 and the human race hasn’t destroyed itself yet. Let’s take a moment to celebrate.


It’s 2022 and the human race hasn’t destroyed itself yet. Let’s take a moment to celebrate.

About the Book

Title: Cat’s Cradle

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Published: 1963

Series: (standalone)

Genre: classics, sci-fi, humor

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars


The Premise

Synopsis (from Goodreads) (truncated):

“Told with deadpan humour and bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it …

Dr. Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he’s the inventor of ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three eccentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker’s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh… “


My Thoughts

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’
Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.”

Cat’s Cradle is told from the perspective of a reporter who wants to write a book about “the day the world ended”– the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He tries to make contact with relatives of the late Dr. Felix Hoenikker, who had worked on the bomb. In the process of this research, he learns that Hoenikker had created another deadly weapon before he died: ice-nine, which upon contact with any water will freeze it permanently. And there are three vials of this stuff in existence now, somewhere.

So you’d better not get it near you. Or any oceans. That could potentially be an issue.

(Fun fact: ice IX is a real type of ice, but it’s not actually like that… so don’t worry)

The book is very satirical of the ~foibles of humanity~ and all that jazz— like the fact that we just had to use our advanced cognition to create technology that can destroy the entire world, instead of doing something productive.


Vonnegut comments on just about everything wrong with humanity. The irony of surface-level patriotism in the context of war. Government. Religion, too, is not safe from the satire. The novel is interspersed with excerpts from the holy Books of Bokonon of the fictional religion Bokonism, which is largely the mouthpiece for some of the very best quotes, in my humble opinion:

“I remembered The Fourteenth Book of Bokonon, which I had read in its entirety the night before. The Fourteenth Book is entitled “What Can a Thoughtful Man Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?”
It doesn’t take long to read 
The Fourteenth Book. It consists of one word and a period.
This is it:

I was reading this on an ebook, and my sister was under the impression that I was looking at memes because I kept snicking at random intervals. Still, when I finished reading I was simply depressed.

I’ve read three Kurt Vonnegut books now this year, and each one of them has left me with the same kind of feeling. A sort of disenchanted depression mixed with a tinge of absurdity.

The world truly is strange, and stupid, and tragic… and ultimately meaningless? Perhaps.

“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.”


The Verdict

I really liked this book and I’d recommend it to everyone, pretty much. Embrace your pessimism. Read it. (Be prepared to enter the throes of nihilism upon finishing though)

Have you read Cat’s Cradle? If so, what did you think of it?

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