Long ago, the fourth wall of a slapstick animation collapsed, and a cartoon cat got a glimpse of a "real world" beyond his Sisyphean existence. Now he roams the Diegesphere via "plot holes" that take him from one story to another, always hoping that his next plot hole will be the one to free him from fiction entirely.
In every story, "the Cat" finds new followers: mentors, minions, tokens, villains... characters doomed to die in aid of their fiction's protagonist. And in every plot hole journey, the deathless toon has to watch more of them meet their merciless ends. Finally, after a particularly disastrous job that ends in an animated fairy tale, the Cat and his band of "Disposables" agree to give up and retire in relative comfort. Archetypes like them need to accept what they can get, after all.
That's when Princess Elana finds the Cat at the bottom of a bottle. This musical ingénue claims she is bored with her story, and talks the Disposables into one more plot hole job. For the first time in a long while, the Cat has hope; this is the only protagonist ever to join the crew, he reasons, and fairy tale protagonists lead charmed lives. If the team can get past their long-standing distrust of protagonists, and if the PG princess can adapt quickly to the R-rated problems outside her own realm, they may have a shot at becoming more than what they were written to be.
Plot/Idea: Kolding takes no unnecessary breaks in this action-packed story with a clever premise. The complexity of breaking the fourth wall is masterfully incorporated into this story about expanding on stereotypical characters.
Prose: The use of first and second person is an effective move that adds to its meta nature. Cat’s voice adds a cynical hopefulness that grounds what would otherwise be a potentially kooky premise.
Originality: Exploring the concept of breaking the fourth wall is not entirely novel, but Kolding bringing seemingly generic characters together from varying genres who just want to break away from the monotony of their stories gives the book a unique appeal.
Character/Execution: Every character gets their own arc that gives them the depth their original roles wouldn’t allow. Allowing these characters to grow while showing that they are also authentically flawed will let readers relate to them on several levels.
Blurb: A gripping fiction story that subverts how the fourth wall is usually explored, while following characters no one ever expected to root for.
Date Submitted: April 03, 2023