Author: Francesca Zappia
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Horror
Published: June 28th, 2022 (Greenwillow Books)
Synopsis: Cat lives in her high school. She never leaves, and for a long time her school has provided her with everything she needs. But now things are changing. The hallways contract and expand along with the school’s breathing, and the showers in the bathroom run a bloody red. Cat’s best friend is slowly turning into cardboard, and instead of a face, Cat has a cat mask made of her own hardened flesh.
Cat doesn’t remember why she is trapped in her school or why half of them – Cat included – are slowly transforming. Escaping has always been the one impossibility in her school’s upside-down world. But to save herself from the eventual self-destruction all the students face, Cat must find the way out. And to do that, she’ll have to remember what put her there in the first place.
Thank you to the publisher, HCC Frenzy for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Cat is trapped in her high school and she and many of her fellow classmates are transforming into monstrous creatures, while others are completely unaffected. The school building itself has been turned upside down, seemingly taking on a life of its own. When a killer begins to stalk the halls, picking them off one by one, Cat must figure out what is going on and find a way to escape, and her slowly resurfacing memories might be the key to solving it all.
This is a really hard book to review because saying just about anything would give away key points from the story, so this will probably be a short post. Katzenjammer has to be among the most bizarre books I’ve ever read, but given the comparison to The Metamorphosis and the title of the book itself, I suppose I should have expected something like this. The mood of the story is perfectly set and as a reader, I was able to feel the tension and urgency right off the bat and all the way to the end of the book. It was also quite thoroughly creepy which worked so well for this type of story. I do enjoy this author’s writing style, but this book was so drastically different from Eliza and Her Monsters (which I adored) that it took me a few chapters just to get used to the change.
The characters were interesting and as the story progressed, I enjoyed trying to figure out which characters turned into which of the Changed. The dual timeline worked perfectly, with Cat’s memories slowly returning in one, providing more and more pieces of the puzzle, while in the present, Cat sets out to track down and unmask the killer, certain that doing so will uncover a way out of the nightmare they have all been living in.
I don’t typically read horror so this was way out of my comfort zone, but I feel that even within this genre, this book was very violent and should definitely have content warnings if it doesn’t already for how bloody and gory it gets – and that’s just to start with. There was so much triggering content and it was a bit excessive for YA in my opinion. The ending, frankly, still has me confused. I kind of see where the author was trying to go with this, but I felt like there weren’t enough hints lined up to make it work and it definitely needed to be fleshed out better.
Overall, this was a very creative story and a fast paced read. Despite the weirdness, I did kind of enjoy this to an extent. It’s likely not going to be a book to everyone’s taste, but for those who are used to the genre and can stomach it, it’s probably worth a read.
Katzenjammer releases on June 28th, 2022.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!