Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review: Ratha's Creature

After discovering I am going to be part of the Cybil Book Judge Panel for MG SFF I decided that I needed to take care of a few books prior to this reading challenge taking place. One of the books I wanted to read was Ratha's Creature which is the first book in The Named series. The premise of the book is quite simple, but the storyline is far from simple. There are prehistoric cats divided up into two tribes so to speak – The Named and Un-Named. The Named are a tribe that has developed a system to herd animals and keep for food. The tribe trains cats to be herders and keep the tribe alive. Females are typically not allowed to be trained under the cruel leadership of their leader named Meoran. The main character/cat is Ratha who is a female that is an exception to the rule when her teacher Thakur promised great things from her. On top of training the cats and herding their herds they also have to be on watch from the Un-Named who are constantly trying to raid and kill their food supply.

Ratha comes across a discovery that throws everything in disarray. A forest fire occurs and she learns how to use fire as a tool. However, after a very intense scene she is banned from the clan and sent out on her own to survive. The problem is that she has only been trained to herd so hunting is not her forte. The whole element of survival comes into play in the animal world. Everything she has been taught in her tribe is flipped upside down and the story takes off and never slows down.

I will admit that at first I thought it was cheesy that these cats could herd animals and some could speak. However, those thoughts quickly went away and I found myself absorbed in the story line. In essence, this novel is a coming of age story just through the eyes of Ratha (who is not human), but as a reader one could relate to the struggles.

There are many things that Ratha does in this story that really drove me nuts. But, I could not help but like her as the main character. I think that is what will draw the interest of readers is because despite her faults there is so much to like. In many ways this is how all of us are – we have our faults – and we are still good people.

I read this book on my iPad in a few days. I bought it from Amazon as I don’t think it is in print anymore. However, I know that I read somewhere that they are going to start making this available again with new covers and design. This story is from the early 80’s (1983 I think) so it has been around a long time.

It is a fast read with lots of action, great plot development, and violence as they are cats trying to survive. By cats I mean the size of like a lion or tiger and not house pets. I would recommend this novel for older readers because of the violent nature of some scenes and one mating scene. The mating scene is not very graphic and it is depicted through the animal world, but just be aware that it is there. It would be very easy to skip over if that bothers you.

If you can track this book down go ahead and read it. It is well worth your time. There are several more books in the series as well.
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