At least that’s the plan.
It all starts when his girlfriend dumps Rick on his sixteenth birthday for uploading cat videos from his bedroom when he should be out experiencing the real world. Known as “That Cat Guy” at school, Rick isn’t cool and he knows it. He realizes it’s time for a change.
Rick decides joining a salsa class is the answer . . . because of a girl, of course. Ana Cabrera is smart, friendly, and smooth on the dance floor. Rick might be half-Cuban, but he dances like a drunk hippo. Desperate to impress Ana, he invites her to spend the summer in Havana. The official reason: learning to dance. The hidden agenda: romance under the palm trees.
Except Cuba isn’t all sun, salsa, and music. There’s a darker side to the island. As Rick and Ana meet his family and investigate the reason why his mother left Cuba decades ago, they learn that politics isn’t just something that happens to other people. And when they find romance, it’s got sharp edges (Via Goodreads.com)
Release Date: September 6th, 2016
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Aside from the fact that the main character ran a successful website full of cat videos, I had no idea what The Cat King of Havana was about. I was a part of The Cat King of Havana Blog Tour, so I was given an eARC to read and review. If you would like to read my post for the blog tour you can read it here. It touches on a number of deep topics, such as heritage and international relations. In the United States, Cuba seems like such a taboo place because of our rocky relations. It was not only refreshing to visit a different country, it was refreshing to visit a country that I know so little about. The setting of Cuba was both the same and different from New York. The Cuba described in The Cat King of Havana may have seen more poverty and government issues than other countries that are explored in YA novels, but it had so many similarities to our home countries.
I loved Crosshill's voice in The Cat King of Havana. It is hard to say writing style instead of voice because I felt as though I was being read The Cat King of Havana. His style and tone perfectly fits the personality and thoughts of any teenager. I found myself constantly laughing at off-handed comments he would say. Not only was his writing extremely hysterical, it was also relatable. As a sixteen year old I am the same age as the main characters and a majority of the time I felt as though I was narrating the story. Crosshill completely embodied the struggles and tribulations faced by every single teenager.
While I loved Crosshill's writing, the story dragged on at points. Due to the lengthy period of time the story takes place, it was hard to see the end of the story. In the middle of The Cat King of Havana, I began to suffer a reading slump because all I wanted to read was Sarah J. Maas' Empire of Storms. I would have probably enjoyed the novel more if I had not been anxiously awaiting news on the arrival of my copy of Empire of Storms, which has still not arrived. The pace of The Cat King of Havana was great and I became attached to the characters; however, I was still left with a few questions. The book shifted in a different direction about halfway through and it was a territory in which I was not comfortable approaching. It had nothing to do with sexual assault or anything, it dealt with the government and I had myself questioning how realistic it was.
The Cat King of Havana was a quick and refreshing read that I really enjoyed. The writing and characters were excellent and I found myself relating to both aspects throughout the course of the story. More than likely, I will never visit Cuba so this journey was a great taste of the country, its people, and their culture. I may never walk down the streets of Cuba; however, I felt as though I was walking down the streets of Cuba along side Rick and Ana. I am interested to see what Tom Crosshill writes in the future, his writing is rather addicting. The Cat King of Havana mixes a taboo culture, cat videos, and a love-struck teen in an unforgettable novel that will have leave you questioning your morals. How far are you willing to go to seek justice?