The very first work of science fiction I read as a kid was The Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher. Between that and the Heinlein juveniles, I ended up imprinting on a particular type of children's literature: stories in which the main characters go on fantastic adventures and learn wisdom and self-reliance along the way. Consequently, I found Cedar Sanderson's Vulcan's Kittens quite enjoyable.
At first glance, Kittens appears to be a typical female-targeted fantasy -- complete with fluffy magical animals, warring "gods", and a teenaged protagonist discovering her unusual heritage -- but it is actually a science fiction/fantasy fusion story with a strong fate-of-the-world adventure component. The narrative implies (and Cedar, feel free to confirm or deny this interpretation) that the "gods" are post-singularity aliens who've mastered the manipulation of space, time, and matter -- and one faction has come to enjoy lording this power over human beings. Thus arises the conflict: said "gods" feel we mortals have become too uppity and have decided it's time to bomb us back into another stone age (in a manner of speaking). It is left up to Linn -- the aforementioned protagonist -- and a group of dissident immortals to stop the upcoming apocalypse.
In the end notes, Cedar says this is her first full-length novel -- and I'd definitely declare this a successful debut effort. The biggest selling point, in my view, is the utter absence of any annoying romance. No offense to any romance fans out there, but I don't like it mixing with my YA. It's become a cliche in the current market for female protagonists to be paired up with male protagonists, and I just don't believe young readers need to be encouraged to dwell on their hormones. What they need is inspiration -- and Linn provides that. Instead of focusing on boys or her body image, Linn learns how to survive on her own. Instead of focusing on high school nonsense, Linn participates in a fight to save the world. And while there are grim moments in the plot, overall the attitude is optimistic. Note to parents: This book is entirely safe to give to your children. (Alas, you can't say the same for many other novels being sold under the YA label.)
My only complaint is that the novel ended before the story was over! I assume this is because Cedar intends to make this a series, but still -- I was a little disappointed not to see a certain key weapon put into use. I would also like to learn more about Cedar's immortal characters -- including the Old Ones, whose point of view we never see. To put it another way: When will we see book two?
Final Verdict: Recommended.