Verdict: HAEE is a beautifully illustrated and thought-provoking modern-day allegory suitable for older children and grown-ups alike.

A 5 star ratings from Indie Reader – “Haee and the other middlings” series

This is the simple but poignant story of Haee, a cat with a crooked tail who lives a comfortable and worry-free life with his loving family.

One day, curious Haee goes exploring in a black hole and gets lost. Haee is discovered by Tom and Jane. Tom and Jane take Haee home and give Haee everything he could possibly need or want. Though they appear to be a perfect couple living a perfect life filled with good jobs, exercise, organic food, sleep, a nice car and everything they need, Tom is secretly dissatisfied with the busy urban life and wishes for clean fresh air and Jane wishes she were a bird and could fly away and see the world.

Haee, in spite of his pampered life, treats and his part in making the house run smoothly, discovers that he, too, is missing something. So one day Haee decides to go play with the cats in the alley and make friends with Whie – the one cat that all the other cats ignore because of her big red nose.  Haee enjoys being with Whie so much that he does not return to Tom and Jane.

The first in a trilogy, this story centers on the themes of need versus want, self-fulfillment and motivation. Author R.S. Vern introduces the concept of “Middlings” to the reader in the introduction, explaining that Middlings are those who appear to have it all, are independent, respect non-conformists and the environment but feel “apart from it all”. They also often ask themselves: “Are we not as happy as those who are much better off in this world?”

Haee, Tom and Jane are all Middlings who appear to have everything they could possibly need and want to be comfortable. But, as the evocative and enticingly detailed pen-line illustrations show, there is an underlying sense of dissatisfaction that grows in spite of all “needs” being met. Realizing this, Haee acts on his desires leaves the comfort of home in search of more satisfying life.

The ending comes somewhat abruptly, leaving a sense that the story is incomplete, however Vern does effectively brings to light the question about whether or not having it all is really the paradigm for the middle class working Tom and Jane, and whether Haee, or any other Middling, is really living more if they are less “comfortable”.

Vern’s story is engaging on many levels and the mostly-black-and-white illustrations add a contemporary and stylish elegance to the clean, crisp layout of the ebook that also features pop up text boxes when narrative is double clicked.

HAEE is a beautifully illustrated and thought-provoking modern-day allegory suitable for older children and grown-ups alike.

Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader. To read more, please go to http://indiereader.com/2013/02/haee-the-cat-with-a-crooked-tail/.

“Is that it? Is that what life is all about? Being perfect? Doing all the politically correct things and having it all?”

 

I like author R.S. Vern’s take on life through the eyes of a cat. It makes it easier for readers to accept the messages she is attempting to get across. What are these messages? You have to read it to find out and I can guarantee that you will be changed, though in a big or small way, it’s up to you.

The author provokes us into thinking outside the box. She wants us to ask: “Is that it? Is that what life is all about? Being perfect? Doing all the politically correct things and having it all?” Sure looks good on the surface … but the illustrations show otherwise.

I like how she combines illustrations and words. I would say the illustrations tell an equally, if not more, compelling story of the ironic messages she is trying to convey. A picture means more than a thousand words, people say. How clever of her!

I would recommend this book to everyone: young adults who are about to embark on their journey of life and adults who outwardly think they have got it all but are unhappy inside. The presentation and approach in this remarkable book is simple and clear enough for children and teens to benefit from it, too! Even better, this is the first book of a trilogy, so if you like this book, you can get the other two when they come out!

There is so much truth in so few words and drawings. The author states: “Looking can make you want. Wanting can get you thinking. If you want them to stop thinking, just give them what they want.” This makes me think, “Will I stop thinking about it once I get what I want; will I start to want something else again and start the process all over, just like Haee The Cat?”

I love this book because it makes me want to question and think. That is not a bad thing at all, I think.
– Cecilia Lee, Reviewer Allbooks Review International

A book review on The Unconventional Life of Haee, 2nd Book from trilogy series “Haee and the other middlings”

How does one leave a middling – that is, average – life behind? And what does an unconventional existence look like?

In the second installment of a three-part series, local author R.S. Vern explores these questions and continues the story of Haee, a cat which is pretty average in every way, save for his exceptionally long tail. The first book in this illustrated series, Haee: The Cat with a Crooked Tail, saw the titular feline leaving behind a comfortable and routine life with his owners, Tom and Jane, to experience life on the streets.

Like the first book, The Unconventional Life of Haee features appealing illustrations which are whimsical but tempered with a dash of quirky, Edward Gorey-style grimness. As the story opens, Haee’s explorations have taken him to the back alley behind the neighbourhood. Here, he befriends a motley crew of cats, including Whie, who is ostracised by the others because of her “unusually big red nose”.

Unlike the others, Haee is attracted to Whie, who he finds “really special and interesting”, and not just because of her oversize schnoz. For starters, the latter is vegetarian – her way of “saving the world and making it a better and more harmonious place to live in”.

Whie’s “queer eating habit” befuddles all the other cats, except Haee. (It’s easy to see the parallel to the human world here: As a once-vegetarian, I can honestly say that few things perplex omnivores more than someone who won’t eat anything which once had a pulse.) Fascinated, Haee learns to eat leftover pizza discarded in the alley instead of the usual roaches and rats. He even goes so far as to implement a set of rules forbidding the alley cats from eating any living creature.

As with many noble New Year’s resolutions and good intentions, things go according to plan for a while. However, it doesn’t take too long before the cats tire of their new lifestyles and revert to their old, roach-hunting ways. Disillusioned, Haee decides to move on without Whie, who is perfectly “comfortable with her life” in the alley.

Ending on an inconclusive note, this book sets the stage for book three, where we’ll (hopefully) find out the answers to questions such as: Will Haee return to a safe and comfortable life with Tom and Jane? Will he see Whie again? And will he ever find the different life he is looking for? Then again, as the author notes, perhaps life is not about achieving that perfect ending, but “having that extraordinary journey”, where dreaming and searching never stops.

The Unconventional Life of Haee, Tuesday, September 18, 2012
By Lynette Koh, Senior Writer, ilovebooks.com

To buy the book or download a sample chapter, please go to http://www.ilovebooks.com/ebooks/home/D1ABC7BD-D378-4CD7-AE59-57015B118FAF/The_unconventional_life_of_Haee .