Katman by Kevin C. Pyle
Pages: 144 pgs.
First Published: Sept. 1, 2009
Yeah...This is where I live.
Reason for Reading: Cybils nominee.
Summary: Kit is an inner-city kid. Everybody around him is someone, they all have labels. Hi brother is 'talented and gifted', his mom is the 'single mom' even his dad is the 'deadbeat dad'. He figures he's not anything. His brother argues with him all the time. He can't help but argue with his mom feeling like she just doesn't get him. Then there's a group of 4 outsider kids who taunt him daily and they can't even figure out what to label him, emo? loser? Kit does have one thing in life that gives him great joy though and that is the stray cats in his neighbourhood. He's befriended them all, given them names, and steals cat food from the local corner store as he pays for one can. The girl from the group of kids who taunt him, Jess, befriends him, she's the artistic one, and after a while she really gets Kit and the whole cat thing and she draws a picture for him, his manga avatar - Katman. When trouble hits the fan, Jess, is there with him to deal with what seems an impossible situation.
Comments: This was a great story. I don't usually go in for teen reality fiction but this story grabbed me right away. Kit is a character that one feels for right away and teens will identify with. The book has a great plot (which I won't give away) that makes the book hard to put down until you've finished. The book is peopled with eccentric characters such as Vinod who belongs to the religion of Jainism, an autistic teen nicknamed Bleep, and the local crazy cat lady. Ultimately, the underlying theme of the book is caring. It sounds kind of corny written down like that but trust me, it's not. The book asks how many people really care these days? Care about something, about someone, about doing something or believing in something? A very powerful story.
I recommend the book for older teens, say 15 and over because of some harsh language. It is not used frequently at all but does appear now and then and the profanity is more of what I would call the hard variety.
My only problem with the book is that every so often after the manga character Katman is introduced we are occasionally shown a 3 or 4 page wordless manga comic about this character. It is a continuing pattern throughout the book and the manga storyline continues. I guess I'm not cool enough because I just didn't understand the meaning of this, at all. I have no idea what the manga story was about. I understand the significance of the creation of Katman to Kit; it is a defining moment for him and Jess. But the wordless manga comic story arc that runs in between the real plot has me baffled. Hence a 4 instead of a 5 rating.