Every American should read at least one Kurt Vonnegut novel. Some of them are best-read when one is a teenager, in order to catch the reader at the right time in their lives. One I didn’t discover until last year, but which could especially appeal to teenagers is the exquisite satire, Cat’s Cradle.
Talk about a funny book that celebrates science fiction – and all without losing challenging, well-written prose. Defying genre stereotypes, Vonnegut has created an interesting story that hooks readers instantly. The concept of inventing and controlling Ice Nine, a substance which instantly freezes anything it touches and thus would theoretically end the world, and the insane assortment of characters in a global chase to get a piece of it is great science fiction based on plausible science theory. I described this concept to a group of teenage guys on Wednesday evening and they all found it interesting, and some even said they’ll give the book a look. Who knew I could be so influential. Vonnegut, however, is one of those writer who once you give something of theirs a try, they won’t have to be prodded a second time to read more from the late, great man.
If I were to recommend a second Vonnegut title, it would be Slaughterhouse Five, no hesitation. This quirky story of part war novel, part science fiction, part satire, and part autobiography was one of my favorite books in middle school and I can’t come up with many readers who wouldn’t enjoy this one. In fact, I wrote a Scrawlers story about it last year.