Katzenjammer / Francesca Zappia / Book Review

Cat has no eyes.

This is a new development, though not the first--not the worst. Everything has been changing recently, though Cat can't remember when this started. More importantly, she can't remember why this started--why she and her classmates started changing. Why High School itself is alive and breathing. Why they can't leave.

Cat can't remember anything, until she can. Bit and pieces come back to her, parts of the story--pieces of the puzzle that she hopes will let her escape, let them all escape. But not everyone wants to leave High School. Not everyone wants Cat to leave. Something is stalking them, and Cat has to put the pieces together, before it is too late. Before whatever is stalking her catches up to her. 

Cat doesn't know if she can survive that.


This book is one of the most disturbing books I have read in a long time. It has body horror galore--so take this as a warning if that's not your thing. I, however, loved it. It's not for the faint of heart, but it is well worth the read. 


  • Uncanny: This book is creepy. It is grotesque. It is macabre. It pulls from the dark and sticky corners of nightmares, where uncanny things lurk--things that are like human but aren't quite. This book bleeds the essence of nightmares, and it is great. 
  • Quiet Kid Rep: This book is full of the kids who keep their heads down all (or almost all) sticking together--having each other's backs. These are the easy-target kids, the kids who make picking a fight simple since they don't fight back. It's nice to have these under-the-radar kids brought into the limelight, to have an "us" voice that encompasses them--in all of their various, multitudinous forms. 
  • Correlation: Each monstrous and uncanny character here has a correlation to Cat's real life--to the people she once knew, her friends and her classmates. They have obviously all been transformed, just as Cat herself has been, but their transformations aren't random. Their new features all relate to different qualities that Cat recognized in them before--like the "fragile" class president, who is now made of glass. As Cat slowly digs into her past and her resurfacing memories, it is fun to see what ways these traits have manifested in the grotesque new reality. 


  • Graphic: This book is uncanny and macabre... and incredibly graphic. Those who are squeamish about descriptions of blood and gore shouldn't read this book. I repeat, if blood and gore aren't things you like to dwell on, do not read this book. The violence here is graphic--entrails, gore, and death, all with real-life (not fantasy) consequences. The gore is extreme. It is purposeful and powerful but also overwhelming. Know yourself and know that if this isn't something you can handle, my note to you is: Reader Beware.
  • Get to the Point: While I appreciate the slow unfolding of memories as Cat pieces together what, exactly, led to the transformation of her school, at a certain point, the memories were unfolding too slowly. There wasn't enough in some of the memories for them to be useful as flashbacks. Chronologically, they made sense, but plot-wise? They became more of a frustrating, get-to-the-point issue.
  • Timeline Troubles: I had a little bit of trouble following Cat's train of thought near the climax of this story. There were so many horrific images on the page that it was hard to figure out who was going where, who got left when, and who got to whom first. That is to say, in the midst of gruesome visuals, the action beats got a little jumbled and confused. I didn't end up enjoying the climax as much because of this.



Fans of unsettling other-worlds like the one found in Neil Gaiman's Coraline will like this transformed High School. Those who enjoy a supernatural twist to their high school drama like Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall will enjoy this bullying-transformed story.


Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date: June 28, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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