I saved Robin Brande's new novel, Fat Cat, to read as my first book of the new year. Why? Because I knew she'd deliver. 2010, you have now been served! Only books as good as Robin's, please.
What is my standard then?
1) Books with perfect pacing. I'm weary of the high-tension read----the ones where you skip pages because you HAVE TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS RIGHT NOW. But I don't want a book to poke along either, causing me to push against it, trying to hurry the plot along as if it were a wayward kitten. I want a smooth, engaging, well-told story that I can sink into and read with pleasure.
2) Dialog so natural and funny you forget you're reading and think you're listening. (Robin writes screenplays. It shows.) Cat's friendship with her best friend, Amanda, is particularly winning.
3) Kissing. If there is to be kissing, please consult with Robin first. In Fat Cat alone, she gives us THREE kinds of romantic kissing, and not all are fluttering doves and slow-melting chocolate. Furthermore, she did not embarrass me. Triple literary green stamps for that.
4) Friendship? Yes. Romance? Yes. Lots of books have these elements. But an interesting scientific idea played out in a creative way? Not many authors can pull this off. Robin knows that science is about exploring, and adapting to circumstances; it's a creative endeavor that is often personal. In Fat Cat, the main character, Cat, is experimenting on herself---and that's precisely what made this story work for me. Cat embodies the scientific outlook---always observing, always tailoring her project to new data, always seeking to ask the right questions----without falling back on that worn stereotype of the robotic, unfeeling science nerd. Cat feels everything---and deeply---and therefore, so do we.
5) I'm going to wrap up this post because really, don't you think my standard is getting rather intimidating? But I can't help it. I have to squeeze in that Fat Cat also has a realistic resolution, laugh aloud moments, AND I learned stuff.
Fat Cat on Goodreads