In this book review I will present to you a very special book – namely Catalyst by Tracy Richardson – one I probably wouldn’t have discovered without another amazing blog tour by TheWriteReads. I know I always say that, but it’s true: Since I’ve joined the TheWriteReads (basically on day one, lol), I have discovered so many different genres, so many amazing authors, and so many special books I would probably not have found otherwise, and Catalyst is one of them. Let me explain why I think so, but first I’d like to say a big thanks to Dave for rocking the blog tour scene and finding one great book after the other for us! But now, back to the book!
This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds – something Marcie knows, only vaguely, that her brother has also had experience with. Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken. She and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting…
Catalyst is an enlightening YA story that is not very focused on plot but more on characters, the issues at hand and what’s between the lines. It makes you think about what is being said, and about everything that’s left unsaid, and I think that’s part of what makes it so powerful.
What I Really liked
Catalyst contains a lot of information on things you probably don’t hear about in your daily life (at least that was the case for me). Instead of being preachy or coming across like a school book though, the author managed to wrap it up into a story nicely and thereby teaches the reader about fracking by making her characters speak up against the collection of natural gas.
Marcie, the main character from whose point of view the story is told, has a kind of sixth sense, something she doesn’t understand herself. Marcie, her brother Eric and his girlfriend Renee spend their summer on an archeological site where the siblings’ mother works. I loved the setting of the story, as well as seeing siblings work together on something. Even though their connection is not very deep, I liked their mutual passion.
I really liked the unique magic that is connected to the Earth’s energy that is part of the story. Reading between the lines, Richardson shows how important the Earth is, and that we only have this one planet. It’s not an easy topic, but the novel brings this theme across. I found it great to see Marcie learn more about her sixth sense and delevop this innate natural power she has.
“A surge of energy jolts me, and my body starts vibrating from head to toe. I’m not exactly falling, but I have the sensation of movement, and my feet no longer feel like they’re connected to the earth. One moment I’m holding hands with Leo, and the next moment I’m disconnected, by myself, alone . . .” – page 148
Marcie is a teenager, and she acts like that. It took me a while to figure out if I wanted to list what I am going to say here or below in the ‘what I did not like as much’-section, but I think the way her character is created makes her seem all the more real. I don’t want to give too much away, but Marcie has feelings for somebody who is basically the opposite of her, working against what she believes in. While there were times I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her to make her come to her senses, I appreciate that she wasn’t depicted like an adult, all mature and detached, as if she has her feelings under control. Not only in regard to these feelings but also in connection with the environment, this painted a passionate picture of her, which I enjoyed.
On the other hand, Marcie and her friends share a passion, a purpose, a big aim they are going fiercelessly after: to save planet Earth. I found this incredibly impressive, and I think this theme makes it an excellent read for teenagers.
“Maybe this is what I’ve been waiting for: a mission and a purpose, connecting with the collective consciousness. I feel a little like I’m stepping off a cliff into the unknown, but if I don’t move forward, I know I’ll regret it.”
– page 35
What I wished would have been a bit different
While I appreciated the knowledge I gained from the novel, I did wish it was less information-heavy and more ‘fun’ and easy (for the lack of a better word) at times. However, I understand that the author had a different purpose with this novel and can therefore accept how it has been carried out. While it manages to stay on your mind for a long time, it is probably not one I would pick up again very soon for recreational reading.
Another thing I found a bit difficult at times was the analogies to religion and religious symbols. While I don’t find this bad per se, I find it difficult because this book is mainly aimed at teenagers, and I’d have left them away I think. Also, at times, the specific terms used made it sound a bit too ‘spiritual’ and therefore not very palpable, which I think could prove hard to grasp for some readers.
All in all I can say that this was a very special read that I would recommend to both environmentally conscious teenagers or young adults, but also to those who want to learn more about how what we do and how we live affects the world in total. I think it would be an excellent classroom read, too. Since I wouldn’t pick it up for a re-read immediately and there were one or two little issues I had with the execution of some aspects I rate this book 4 stars.
Don’t worry when you hear this is the second part of a series. I haven’t read the first part, The Field either, and Catalyst works excellently as a standalone.
Big thanks again to Dave from TheWriteReads and the author for the opportunity to read this book! I received an ecopy in exchange for my honest review.
TRACY RICHARDSON wasn’t always a writer, but she was always a reader. Her favorite book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In a weird way that book has even shaped her life through odd synchronicities. She has a degree in biology like Mrs. Murry, and, without realizing it, she named her children Alex and Katie after Meg’s parents. Tracy uses her science background in her writing through her emphasis on environmental issues, metaphysics, and science fiction. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her doing any number of creative activities — painting furniture, knitting sweaters, or cooking something. She lives in Indianapolis, and, in case you’re wondering, yes, she’s been to the Indianapolis 500.
You can find out more about Tracy and her writing on her website.