“Just a piece of advice to anyone out there applying to college: DO NOT only apply to one school. It doesn't matter if this one school is a state university or ivy league. DO NOT only apply to one on the assumption you will get in! This is exactly what Kate the title character of Catalyst does, and it was probably the first thing that initiated my dislike of her.
Catalyst tells the story of Kate, a super-smart minister's daughter-slash-runner, who takes on more than she can chew until everything comes piling down on top of her. Her neighbor's house burns down and Teri, her apparent nemesis, must room with her. As Kate waits to hear back from MIT, the ONLY college she applied to, her stress escalates until she finally falls apart. Cue conflict.
Kate is a angsty, immature, kind of obnoxious character. Nothing about her made me think, "Hmmm, I'd like to be her friend." Did she impress me? Yes? Did I think she would get into MIT? No, she was too naive and too confident in herself and her grades. Did I like her? No. The same goes for her "nemesis" Teri. She also impressed me, but I couldn't feel sympathy for her either. In fact, for a Laurie Halse Anderson book, I was rather disappointed. The story moved slowly and the climax came out of nowhere. I found the character death necessary but almost random. Nevertheless, I do know plenty of people who should read this book because they would benefit from Kate's mistakes. This may not be a highly riveting or breathtaking novel, but it is a novel that needs to be read by today's students who try to do it all. Sometimes you need to step away from yourself and your situation and I think if Kate had done that, I might have enjoyed Catalyst more.
“I started CATALYST with the thought 'this will be another typical/predictable read, sigh', taking into consideration that I had read SPEAK (which happens to be a favourite of mine). I would say it was mostly the summary's fault for making me think in that particular way.
Not much to my surprise, it did start off something like that - a predictable read.
The main character Kate Malone went straight onto my negative side not many pages in and knew all the wrong things to say. But, as I was reading, Laurie Halse Anderson's writing style clearly rang through. It was probably the reason that I just didn't put this book on my DNF pile only 10 pages in. There is something unique and beautiful about the author's writing even though Kate was annoying me.
HOWEVER...that didn't last for long. CATALYST started flowering into its full potential not long after.
Throughout the book you are introduced to a range of characters, from Kate's friends to the members of the Church. Most the characters were unique in their own way, making them stand out. Teri Litch was one of those characters that you grow closer to as you read on. She comes across as hostile and aggressive, though that may not change as the book progressed but you get to a point where you begin to understand her. Teri's story strongly drives the plot which is one of the reasons as a reader you can get to know her better.
Kate being the main character and all, you can see a change and growth in her as you read. You even begin to like her and see that she's not the most horrible and annoying person in the world.
Half way through the book, I swear my heart was pulled out from my chest and ripped into pieces, I shed many tears and had to put the book down for 10 minutes and rein in my emotions.
This particular event that takes place in the book set up the mood for the rest of the book. That is probably when you realise how amazing Anderson's writing is. Everything in the book feels REAL, like you are experiencing it. It's basically my favourite type of writing. At that point, I think Kate's voice comes through strongest and powerful. I will again repeat this book felt realistic!
A bonus for anyone who read Speak, CATALYST is set in the same school. AND GUESS WHAT?
Melinda from Speak makes an appearance and there is even short dialogue between Kate and Melinda. That was probably one of the awesome points of the book too. It felt like I was checking up on an old friend.
I wouldn't say this book is plot driven but much more about the characters and exploring them. I don't think this book will be enjoyed by everyone but it should definitely be given a chance.”
“Good but sad. The moods feels real! ”Brielle S. wrote this review Friday, February 8, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“liked it was alot of death... although its a good book”naseya_ninigirl wrote this review Friday, February 8, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Young adult fiction. Catalyst is about a high school girl in her senior year of high school and has her mind set that she will get into the only school she applied for. But when her neighbors house catches fire she is forced to share a room with the one person she hates. She ends up spending more time than she wants with the girl and goes into a very depressed state of mind blocking all her friends out. when she thinks over a few thigns in the end things start to look up for her. ”Leah wrote this review 2 weeks ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Not my favorite book by this author, but I did enjoy it. ”Tam N wrote this review Thursday, January 24, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“After my last read, not to be confused with my last review, I needed something powerful and beautiful and character-driven. Catalyst turned out to be a perfect choice. Until now, my experience with Laurie Halse Anderson consisted solely of Speak. At that time, I didn't really read much realistic fiction, and I mostly steered away from unhappy books. As such, I really was not sure what to make of it, and could not appreciate it as much as I know I could now. Having read and super liked Catalyst, I'm pretty sure I need to reread Speak soon.
Speaking of Speak (which is published by Speak), Catalyst actually takes place in the very same high school, and Melinda makes a brief appearance. The Melinda here seems pretty happy and is still doing her art. Yay! Of course, she was only in for a page, but, hey, it was nice to see her and to get the sense that she's actually recovered. I really love when authors reference previous works.
Laurie Halse Anderson's writing makes me want to spin around Julie Andrews style because of how freaking wonderful it is. Seriously, if I had to quantify my favorite writing style, it would be one that is dark, funny, and dripping with wit. Her writing here fits in perfectly with John Green's and A.S. King's, in the category of writing so good that it kind of makes me never want to write anything, since I can never be that good at putting things into words.
Of course, Anderson does not merely excel at writing. She backs it up with characterization. Kate Malone bursts with personality. She has both teenage hubris and insecurity in spades. Her voice is powerful and acerbic. A pastor's daughter, she has developed a dichotomy within herself of how she's supposed to act and all the things she wants to say: Good Kate and Bad Kate. While this technique can be awful when done wrong, Anderson used it effectively. It just fit Kate and her rigorous need to be perfect warring with her judgmental personality.
Kate loves math and science, dreams of attending MIT, her late mother's alma mater. She's done everything she can: earned the grades, taken the tests, filled her life with extracurriculars, excelled at a sport, volunteered at her father's church, and worked part-time at a pharmacy. She's a shoe-in, right? Well, she told herself that anyway when she decided to apply only to MIT and nowhere else...even when she wasn't accepted early decision.
With the letter, hopefully the fat one, from MIT due any day, Kate cannot sleep, spending most of every night running or performing household chores. The own stresses in her life are put into perspective by a larger tragedy that forces her into a relationship with her childhood tormenter, Teri Litch. The main detractor in the novel was that I felt like Kate forgave Teri much too easily and let her get away with too much. The whole time I kept yelling at her to get the watch and necklace (both with sentimental value) Teri stole from her back.
Another wonderful thing about this book: the romance. Unlike most YA, it's not about Kate's relationship, nor does it include a new love interest. She already has a boy, Mitchell, her former rival, who she argues with a lot less now that they spend quite a bit of time kissing. Also setting this book apart, Mitchell is not the kind of guy most girls would find attractive, but Kate still thinks he's hot, which was so cute and refreshing. Their relationship definitely reads like one that will not last long once they go to college, and it was so much more authentic than all of these soulmates confessing their love on a first date.
While I do think some of the plotting elements were a bit rushed, I loved this book for the characterization, the writing and for completely surprising me. Seriously, there was a twist I did not see coming at all. Anyway, Anderson is brilliant, in case you didn't know that already.”
“Great book ”Tairys C wrote this review Thursday, January 10, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I didn't understand why Kate kept lying to everyone about how she didn't apply to any safety schools. Her entire life was wrapped up in going to MIT, and she was absolutely devastated when she didn't get in. She is a smart girl, she still had so many opportunities in life and really didn't have to put her life on pause. Kate was a static protagonist, she didn't develop during the book. Also, she pretty much just cares about herself and what she thinks will help her in life. I really liked the book Wintergirls by L. H. Anderson, but so far I'm not too much a fan of her other books.”Pizza Pie wrote this review Friday, November 9, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“outcast at school put together with her, her goal was going to mit, who do you perceive yourself to be, honest teenage writing. twist. put it down and she was breathless, big impression on her.”Karen wrote this review Monday, October 8, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No