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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2006
"Cathy's Book" is an interesting, great read! It is about a girl who is suddenly dumped by her boyfriend, Victor, after mysteriously fainting and waking up with a needle mark on her arm. The story follows her and her friend, Emma as they unfold the mystery of why her boyfriend dumped her and where this mysterious mark on her arm came from. As they get deeper and deeper into their investigation, they learn shocking things about Victor, and Cathy ends up suspecting that Victor is a murderer. That is only the main plot. If I were to write about all of the sub-plots, I'd have a good three of four paragraphs.

The various doodles and notes drawn alongside the writing in the story give you a better feeling of who Cathy is. What is even better is that the phone numbers (such as the one on the cover of the book, and the ones mentioned throughout the book) are actually real, working numbers that take you to the voicemails of each character. The book comes along with a small, clear package that containes pictures, letters, drawings and even more "proof" to go along with Cathy's story. This book was really entertaining, and it had a mysterious plot that kept me reading.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2006
You know you want to. Don't worry. I guarantee she won't answer. You'll get her voicemail. You don't have to leave a message. ... But if you're clever, you can figure out her voicemail access code and learn a little more about her. And you know ... this book is Cathy Vicker's personal journal. If she's in trouble, it might be your duty to poke around in a bit to find out what's going on. But wait -- what's all this crap glued to the inside front cover in a baggie? Newspaper clippings, vital documents, a take out menu, business cards, sketches, a ripped up photo? Aw man. This could become pretty time consuming.

At least it did for me. I've spent the better part of two days following up on every lead I can find in this little parcel. I've been calling phone numbers, cracking access codes, comparing signatures, and piecing together dates. Seems that this precocious 17-year-old girl has hooked up with a fella named Victor of about 23 -- probably too old for her to be dating in any case -- and he may be involved in drugs? Questionable genetic research? The Chinese Mafia? At any rate, Victor's co-worker has been murdered, Cathy's got a mysterious needle mark on her arm, and her best friend Emma needs Cathy to pitch in on their joint Biology project.

To solve the mystery I've mostly been investigating web sites: both factual, pre-existing ones and fictional ones constructed for the conceit of this ARG. (That's "alternate reality game," Mom.) Cathy and Emma have their own My Space and AIM pages, of course. But there's even a site for a fictional wireless phone company with a forum in which all of Cathy's new helpers can share secrets. Here, let me get you started in your investigation.

I really can't say enough about this book. It's quite ingenious. Of course, this sort of strategy has been used before to market products, as in the ingenious ilovebees.com ARG for Halo 2, but this is the first full-scale attempt (that I've been aware of) to actually incorporate real world knowledge discovery, interactive media, realia, and Web 2.0 applications to complete a literary work. And some of the reasearch is kinda hard, so to get the most from the book, you'll likely have to spend some time engaging in the online community. It really raises this use of social networking tools from "viral marketing" to "community building" -- from a trick to a tool, from a gimmick to an experience.

Of course, you can just read the book if you want. It's not Proust or anything, but it's written well enough. I'm sure the young women it's marketed to will appreciate that Cathy is both amazingly confident and a bit of a screw up. She has no problem driving into San Francisco and wandering Chinatown by herself, but she has a problems fulfilling the basic responsiblities of friendship. And her problems range from the amusingly minor to frighteningly serious. It's a wild ride worthy of Buffy Summers.

Really, though, if you don't follow through on the questions you still have by getting your nose out of the book, you know you'll regret it. Go ahead. Open up the baggie. Pick up the phone...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 19, 2006
Cathy's boyfriend, Victor, unexpectedly breaks up with her and Cathy is not handling it well. Two days prior to their breakup, she woke up after an evening with Victor in which her memories remain fuzzy with a mark on her arm that looks like a needle track. Cathy isn't one to just sit back and take this, regardless of what her best friend Emma thinks, and soon she finds herself deeply involved in a complex puzzle with a murder, a biotech company, and some really scary men in Chinatown. What dark secrets will be revealed in CATHY'S BOOK?

Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman have written an unusual tale in which reader participation appears to be encouraged. A packet is included with clues from the story, such as pictures and newspaper clippings, which adds to the hands-on feel of CATHY'S BOOK. The approach is definitely engaging although only time will tell if this RPG style will work with young adult readers.

CATHY'S BOOK is written as if it were the journal of a 17 year old girl. The artwork and doodling is interspersed throughout the story and provides a very realistic touch to the overall effort. The storyline veers off in a rather odd track, but is a plot that will more than likely appeal to fans of RPGs. As a character, Cathy is very well developed although her reckless behavior may give parents a few qualms about younger readers. However, Cathy's actions are very much in line with the type of person she is.

CATHY'S BOOK is an interesting meld of mediums. The modern day RPG element is definitely kitschy and will certainly obtain some fans on that aspect alone. CATHY'S BOOK is recommended for older teenagers based on the content and is an interesting book that fully engages the reader in the story.

COURTESY OF CK2S KWIPS AND KRITIQUES
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2007
Cathy is not only a funky dresser, but also creative, clever, fun, curious and an artist extraordinaire. From the book's exciting cover, which states in gray letters against a black background "Cathy's Book if found call (650) 266-8233," to the ensuing pages of artistic doodles and adventures, this is one terrific read. Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman have gone out on a limb with some daring ideas and succeeded in creating an interactive, totally hands-on reading experience that teens will go wild for.

Set up as a kind of diary and sprinkled heavily with wonderful drawings, Cathy writes about her relationship with the mysterious Victor, her very best friend Emma, her frazzled mother and the pitfalls of getting involved in something very dangerous. Her diary covers about a month of her life as she investigates Victor's sudden withdrawal and strange behavior. As she becomes more deeply involved, she realizes that Victor is not who she thinks he is, that he possibly has used her in some kind of terrible experiment (there's a needle mark on her arm and a blank space in her memory) and that even murder is possible in the weird happenings of the Chinese underworld.

Emma is the brains, technology and nerdy part of Cathy's world. She pulls Cathy in and tries to keep her focused as well as attend to her school projects. After all, Cathy will not succeed in anything if she doesn't settle down. Emma is also pretty peeved that their science project failed because Cathy was so distracted. Throughout all of this, however, Emma's family has their own issues, and the wealth that surrounded Em is suddenly gone because her father loses his job. What else can happen in all this chaos? Oh, plenty can --- and does!

Cathy can be poignant as she recalls her recently deceased father, very funny (see her alter egos such as ArtGirl, PhoneGirl and GothGirl) and dreadfully foolish as she hurtles herself from one dangerous situation to another. Her personality bubbles over the pages as we root for her all the way through. Her last entry makes it imperative to follow with a sequel and to explore every possible clue provided.

Readers can call phone numbers, visit web sites and explore a little packet of assorted papers tucked into the book. There are blogs and fascinating links that help answer the many questions related to uncovering the mystery of Victor and the strange cult-like group surrounding him. This is a gamer and a reader's treasure.

Don't wait! Grab a copy of CATHY'S BOOK now!

--- Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts (stibbetts@maine207west.k12.il.us
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Sean Stewart, Cathy's Book: If Found Call (650) 266-8235 (Running Press, 2006)

There was a great deal of pre-release hype about this book, the majority of it negative; critics were coming out of the woodwork castigating the novel for being an extended commercial with little, if any, literary quality. I finally got round to reading it recently, and I don't get the hype. I saw nothing more inherently capitalist-swine here than in the good old days of cigarette ads in the centers of drugstore paperbacks or product placement in the movies. As to the literary value, Sean Stewart's got a few things to learn, especially when it comes to pacing, but there was a lot of fun to be had when the book finally took off.

Cathy, the owner of the titular book (a diary/sketchbook) is your typical high school student. This means, if you're over the age of twenty-five, you're likely to find her deeply annoying. She has a mysterious older boyfriend, Victor, or did; he keeps disappearing, warning her that being around him is not the best of ideas. Cathy, of course, is not willing to take his advice, or we'd have a very short novel here.

There's a lot of setup at the beginning, and as I inferred above, it's deathly slow. It took me at least ten times longer to get through the first twenty pages as it did to get through the rest of the novel. Once the characters (and the reader) realize there is, in fact, a mystery to be solved here, the book gets going in a big way. Stewart's got some very interesting ideas, and paints Cathy as a fish out of water as she tries to understand the ins and outs of Victor's culture, both the mainstream aspects she had some passing knowledge of and the more esoteric pieces of its history and mythology she runs across in her investigation. As the novel progresses, Cathy becomes far less annoying, and by the climax the reader, even the reader over 25, should be able to empathize with her, if not identify; impressive, and would have been a winner with a better editor holding sway over the opening pages. *** ½
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
CATHY'S BOOK is being marketed as a new kind of young adult novel. It's interactive, with a pocket of 'evidence', real phone numbers and websites, and other extras to help you learn more about the case. To be honest, though, that wasn't what made me love this book. Sure, the extras are cool and all, but I don't think they are necessary (and that's a compliment to the book, really!). CATHY'S BOOK could have stood on its own as a wonderful young adult novel.

It's the story of, as the title suggests, a girl named Cathy. I suppose she's fairly normal at first (though she is a better artist than most of us--I love the drawings in this book!), but she quickly finds herself mixed up in some shady business, due to her involvement with Victor, her older possible-boyfriend. I can't say too much without giving away the awesome plot twists, but nothing turns out the way you think it will! It all comes together quite nicely in the end, though. The startling revelations that finish this story, however, could set up a great sequel, and I hope that one is at least being considered!

CATHY'S BOOK is fantastic for a number of reasons. There are great pictures (and usually I'm not a fan of pictures in novels--I think it distracts from the writing), it's well-written, the characters (especially Cathy) are realistic, and the plot is quite suspenseful! It's not all action and suspense, though--there's a bit of romance thrown in (that is, after all, the reason for Cathy's involvement in the first place), which makes it fun. The only thing that might subtract from the awesomeness of this book, I think, is the fact that the publishers or whoever made this decision seemed to think the great story needed 'extras' to make it worth reading. None of the press I've read on this book mentions the great novel; instead, it talks about the 'extras.' That is not what makes this book worth it, not at all!

Reviewed by: Jocelyn Pearce
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2007
I thought it was an awesome read! I passed it on to my step-sister! Very interacie and very much worth the price ... If you don't want to call the number then you can go on the provided website and hear the message. Lets you get a feel for what the charictors look like and what kind of people they are.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2007
I love this book! It's not like anything I have read before. With actual messages to listen to and web sites to visit, this is by far the most interactive book I've ever read. It's like solving a real mystery. I haven't been able to put it down since I got it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Cathy's Book is a most interesting little idea; written in journal form, it follows Cathy (naturally) as she tries to find out why her boyfriend, Victor, has suddenly dumped her. Sounds like a run of the mill story, right? Wrong. Deciding to investigate Victor, who is a few years older than the senior in high school, Cathy inadvertantly discovers that he is involved in something much, much bigger than she'd imagined and her life is suddenly in grave danger as she pursues the answers to the strange mystery of just what Victor is up to. Enlivening this journal are the doodles that Cathy continually makes around (and sometimes on top of ) the entries, and the packet of "evidence" secured inside the front cover.

This book is intriguing on several levels, but at times it does seem a little slow in plot development. Cathy is a typical teen, unintereted in school, with a loyal friend who tries to keep her out of trouble. In addition, Cathy may be trying to hang on to Victor so strongly because she has recently lost her father and is having difficulty with her mother. Easy to identify with, Cathy is headstrong and often acts without thinking. There's enough of an open ending to suggest there will be other books after this one. Teens will enjoy its unusual format and its characters, and it can be recommended for middle schoolers as well. Enjoyable, light reading that occasionally steps into the realm of science and the unbelievable. Good overall.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2007
To tell you the truth. i only bought this book cause the "evidence" in the inside. But as i started to read it. i was bored.. i got to about 6 pages. and i was like great i bought this book for NOTHING! Then one day i actually picked it up and started reading it. FORREAL this time. Once i started i couldnt stop. It was like i was taken by an ocean wave that only compelled me to read. It took me about 2 days to fully finish it. The characters are GREAT and fun to follow. and some of the choices cathy makes will only keep you guessing, and making you want to read more. It had VIVID writing towards the end. and i would DEFFINATLY recommend it.

BUT. some parts were hard to follow [maybe becuase i was reading too fast to fully interpret it] but other than that i thought it was great, OH but there was one other thing. i didnt like how it was binded. it kept slipping out of my hands becuase it would move soo much. i guess im used to just taking off the paper part on hard back books. but i guess since this one had "evidence" it had to be binded that way.
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