Title: #Help My Cat’s a Vlogging Superstar!
Author: Rae Earl
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Pre-teen – Young teen (young adult) fiction, Humour
Book format: Paperback

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Description: MILLIE PORTER: Me, the one who everyone – friends, family, my cat -relies on for good advice.
DAVE: The cat, a feline rebel who loves to steal crisps.
#HELP: The vlog where me and my best friend Lauren give hilarious advice about the things that really matter: cats, parents, make-up and boys.
Not even Erin Breeler, Queen of Instagram, is going to stop us vlogging.  But is a cat who likes standing on my head enough to make us an online sensation?

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  I had high expectations for this book and looked forward to reading it, but somehow it’s just been a bit of a disappointment. ‘#Help: My Cat’s a Vlogging Superstar!’ is a children’s/young adult novel that’s aimed at younger teens and pre-teen aged kids, particularly girls. Millie Porter is a sensible girl who wants to give advice to those who need it so starts vlogging with her best friend’s help. The vlog is destined to be a success…if only Millie could get Instagram queen (and Miss Popularity at school) Erin Breeler to stop interfering both online and in real life.

It’s hard for me to describe the book without going into too much detail and spoiling it. Millie is sensible, she doesn’t take risks, worries a bit too much about things and is always there for her best friend Lauren. Her own life is a little more than hectic though with accusations of killing robot vacuum cleaners, parents living separately and a crazy aunt among other things. Millie and Lauren decide to start a vlog all about giving advice but with the popular girl at school hassling Millie in various ways and Millie’s own crush on the new boy at school distracting her, things can all get a little too much. The book is funny with lots of humour right from the start. While I did enjoy the silliness of the funny things written, especially the incident in the first pages around McWhirter (the vacuum cleaner), the book just never made me laugh aloud like some similar books have.

The story begins right away with Millie being the narrator. Every chapter is titled, rather than numbered, and given a hashtag title which is sometimes funny and relative to what is happening in the story. The things that happen to Millie are typical of a teenage life and many teens can relate to the issues Millie has to deal with, such as having problems with the popular girl at school and issues around social media.

Although the story is funny and I enjoy a humorous book, I just didn’t find this one as funny as I’d hoped and I found it hard to get back into the book once I’d put it down, despite the fact it is an easy read. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t enjoy it so much, I’m actually struggling to come up with reasons, but somehow it just didn’t hold my attention and I felt a little disconnected with Millie’s character. While her personal life is a little over the top and exaggerated I didn’t mind this as it is supposed to be a funny book. I did however feel that the book had missed a key opportunity to explore and even explain Millie’s anxiety better. I’ve seen this book advertised as a book which tackles mental health issues and while this isn’t the main part of the story it was good to see it featured in a novel for pre-teens. However, having personally had anxiety issues growing up, I felt the novel could have given a bit more depth into the subject while still retaining the humour.

While it’s not my favourite genre, I have read a few books similar to this one which feature young teens having all these personal issues and written in a very funny way, and those books I have really enjoyed, but for some reason this one just didn’t have the same appeal. The ending is an okay one for me, it’s satisfying in the sense that everything is resolved and most things that happened had a great ending to them, but if I’m honest I was disappointed with how things turned out in the end regarding the boys in the story, it felt shallow and like the story had missed a key moment to show that looks aren’t everything. I’m also disappointed that despite the book title and description, the cat in the story doesn’t feature in a lot of the plot and I kept waiting for the cat thing to happen only to realise that it happened at the very end of the novel.

I know a lot of pre-teen and young teenagers, girls mostly, will enjoy this novel and do. It is a funny story and one I did enjoy reading, for the most part, but honestly, I’m not sure it’s a book I’d recommend unless you are a fan of this style of novel or enjoy a more silly/shallow ending.

-Review first appeared online November 2017 – now republished here.

Have you read this book or others by Rae Earl?  Do you enjoy humerous books with silly things happening?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂