Catfishing on CatNet

Naomi Kritzer. Tor Teen, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-16508-4
In this thoughtful near-future techno-thriller, a sentient AI that secretly runs an online community dedicated to animal pictures befriends a lonely young woman who’s spent her life fleeing her violent stalker father. Unable to make any lasting connections in meatspace, Steph, 16, has found a sense of community and acceptance on CatNet, unaware that the admin, CheshireCat, isn’t human. When she and her mother move again, this time to a tiny Wisconsin town, Steph doesn’t expect to be there long, and she definitely doesn’t expect to make friends, but ends up with kind and witty IRL companions, such as artsy Rachel. After attempting to help the solitary teen, CheshireCat reveals their true nature, then goes offline, propelling Steph and her friends to uncover the dark secret lurking in her family’s past. Alongside the uplifting message about inclusivity, diversity, and found family—characters of various ethnicities identify as gay, bisexual, nonbinary, asexual, and still exploring—Kritzer’s take on a benevolent AI is both whimsical and poignant. An entertaining, heart-filled exploration of today’s online existence and privacy concerns. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/18/2019
Release date: 11/19/2019
Genre: Children's
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