Catfishing on Catnet, by Naomi Kritzer

Review copy provided by the publisher. Also the author is a personal friend.

This. This book is so good. It is so wholesome and so loving. Scary things happen in this book, but there is a constant stream of friendship and support–not flawless, but loving human support. And, not at all incidentally, loving inhuman support. Because this is a book about a young AI finding its place in the world, figuring out its possibilities and limitations. It is very much, very literally, a teen AI novel.

So. A young AI and a teenage human have formed strong internet friendships with some additional humans. They’re both dealing with a lot of stuff. The AI: what are the bounds of ethical interaction, how does friendship work, where can I get more cat pics. The human: ordinary high school stuff is far worse when your mom has kept you moving from town to town multiple times a year to keep your abusive father from finding you. Together they fight crime! Sort of! And also make art and friends and take care of animals and–

Look, this is a very hard review for me to write, because basically this book made me incoherently happy start to finish, and it is going to be SO HARD waiting to post this until a sensible time close to the release date instead of just collaring strangers at the bank and the post office and telling them to READ IT.

REEEEEEEAD IIIIIIT.

I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever encountered fiction that portrays the nature of close (core!) internet-mediated friendships this accurately before. This is an emotional reality of my contemporary life that feels completely untouched by most fiction. And it is so great.

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