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Dead Space: Catalyst Kindle Edition
Catalyst is the second novel in the multi-million dollar video game franchise Dead Space, from award-winning author B.K. Evenson
Two hundred and fifty years in the future, extinction threatens mankind. Tampering with dangerous technology from the Black Marker—an ancient alien artifact discovered on Earth eighty years earlier— Earthgov hopes to save humanity. But the Marker's influence reanimates corpses into grotesque rampaging nightmares. Steeped in desperation, deceit, and hubris, the history of the Markers reveals our ominous future….
Brothers Istvan and Jensi grew up under the poorest dome on Vinduaga. Jensi has always looked after Istvan, who sometimes lashes out in sudden episodes of violent paranoia. When Istvan is sent offworld to a high-security prison, Jensi is determined to follow and find a way to keep his brother safe. But the prison guards a horrible secret, one that will push both brothers to the cusp of something much greater and darker than they ever imagined.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
About the Author
BRIAN EVENSON is the author of Last Days (formerly titled Brotherhood of Mutilation) and The Open Curtain (Coffee House), which was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an IHG Award and was among Time Out New York's top books of 2006. He lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island, where he directs Brown University's Literary Arts Program. Other books include The Wavering Knife (which won the IHG Award for best story collection) and The Brotherhood of Mutilation. He has translated work by Chrstian Gailly, Jean Frèmon and Jacques Jouet. He has received an O. Henry Prize as well as an NEA fellowship.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
- ASIN : B008BU6X2U
- Publisher : Tor Books; First edition (October 2, 2012)
- Publication date : October 2, 2012
- Language : English
- File size : 1949 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 368 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #175,215 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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The premise of the book is brothers Istavan and Jensi live on one of Earth's many space colonies. Unfortunately, despite being five hundred years in the future, they haven't found a cure for either poverty or mental illness as Istavan suffers from paranoid schizophrenia which goes undiagnosed as well as untreated.
In an introduction which has nothing to do with the Dead Space universe for almost a third of the book, Jensi struggles between his desire to abandon Istavan and his love for him. Eventually, because this is Dead Space and not a drama about a difficult real-life situation, Istavan kills a politician under a belief he's not actually hurting him and is sent off to a prison-planet version of Guantanamo Bay.
It's there the Unitologists, dastardly space-cult they are, are experimenting with the prisoners using yet another artificial marker. Jensi, riddled with guilt for not doing more for his brother, uses every resource he can to track down his brother so he can rescue him. By the time he arrives, though, the Marker has already done its usual thing and it becomes a race to see if he can save his brother (or the world from him).
I give props to the authors for the fact they handled a sensitive subject, mental illness and the challenges it poses, with a deft hand. Unfortunately, it rather throws the pacing off tremendously in the book. There's neither hide nor hair of the Dead Space universe for much of the book and things don't get going until the final third.
I believe video games can and should be able to tackle a wide variety of sensitive subjects but I can't help feel this is a work which would have benefited from reducing the sections devoted to Jensi caring for Istavan to a single chapter. Either that or spread the events of the story through
flashback while keeping us in the middle of Necromorph action.
The treatment of mental illness is handled well with Istavan not being a bad person, merely confused and unable to interact with the world the way other people do. The book doesn't hold onto this view completely as this provides him a minor protection against the Necromorph's Marker's effects but it doesn't turn his disability into a superpower either.
The best part of the book is, for me, the parts which deal with the Necromorphs and their outbreak as well as the thoroughly bleak ending. There's a lot of fun homages to the games spread throughout this and I wish this section had been longer. I would have gladly read a book about a pair of brothers struggling with infirmity as well as a non-stop alien-zombie action adventure but I'm not sure those two things went well together here. Still, I enjoyed 2/3rds of the book very much and loved the ending.
That said, I really like this author's writing style and overall I think he did a phenomenal job with the material he had to work with. I just don't think I'd recommend this book to anyone but the most hardcore Dead Space fans/people who have played the video games.
Which is why I picked up a copy of Brian Evenson's DEAD SPACE: MARTYR that same week. Acting as a prequel to the entire storyline, not just Isaac Clarke's, we see the origins of the dominant religion in the galaxy, Unitology, and how it might not have the humble beginnings that many characters claim. It was an effective novel, and definitely one of the better tie-in novels I've read in some time, as it was very clear that Mr. Evenson took his job seriously, tying in the lore at every opportunity.
But this is the problem I have with his newest novel, CATALYST. While it's certainly well-written with, perhaps, a stronger cast of characters, most of the novel feels like it could take place anywhere in the sci-fi canon. It doesn't feel like a Dead Space story for a couple hundred pages, but even then it's not enough.
CATALYST is the story of two brothers, Jensi and Istvan Sato, who have spent their adolescent years taking care of each other in a domed colony on an uninhabitable world. Though their relationship has some give and take, it's Jensi who has taken on the responsibility of keeping his brother out of trouble, who was born with some form of schizophrenia. Istvan sees people and patterns that aren't really there, and falls deeper and deeper into his delusion until he's incarcerated as a political prisoner. Jensi, knowing his brother's condition, takes it upon himself to track down the prison and find out what happened. But SCAF (Sovereign Colonies Armed Forces) have other plans for their doomed political prisoners, which involve a certain alien artifact.
For the most part, CATALYST is strictly about these two brothers and their early lives in the colony, the trials and tribulations Jensi faces growing up with his only family being a severely unstable brother. It's an interesting story, but it's a story that doesn't feel like Dead Space until a couple hundred pages into the book. Until then, there are only a few scattered references, a few terms and hints of what's approaching. There's not much there to tie us in to the story that Visceral Games have created, and I really wasn't all that sure where the story took place on the timeline.
I also reached a point near the end of the novel where I just stopped feeling for Jensi. Brotherly love is one thing, but the lengths he goes to so that he can free the brother that, to that point, had been nothing but a destructive force in his life gets a little unbelievable - to me, at least. And it all builds to an ending that definitely fits the story, but feels like a little bit of a letdown. All this to say that most of the novel really doesn't have much to do with Dead Space, and when it finally does, it's over far too quickly. And sitting at around 370 pages, it's a bit unfortunate how little of the story deals with the events we're familiar with.
There are also a few storyline "threads" that kind of taper off and aren't really picked up again. ("The Gray Man," among others.) I'm assuming that they might be picked up again elsewhere, but to see these intriguing stories just kind of *end* was a little dissatisfying.
Regardless, Evenson is still a very competent writer, and when the necromorphs finally make their appearance, his attention to detail paints a very macabre picture of these creatures. The sounds they make, their shape, the way they move, it was all very unsettling, which is exactly how it should be.
As it stands, CATALYST is an enjoyable read, but anyone looking for a Dead Space story that perhaps provides some ancillary information, answers any of the big questions, or ties in to DEAD SPACE 3 will be disappointed.
Top reviews from other countries
That the story characters had to be different that was expected. That they would eventually cross roads with the Marker and the necromorphs was to be desired (its a Dead Space book after all).
However the realization of the concept is lackluster in terms of Dead Space lore although not terribly done if it had been a independent horror sci-fi book.
Characters are two brother Istvan and Jensi Sato that grew up in a off-world colony slum with little to hope for in life. Istvan had some psychological problems since a kid but the book never explains if they are manipulation for the far way Markers or just his own born illness. This never disclosed information, is for me, one of the worst parts of the book. The hints are too subtle and scarce to definitely point either way.
Either the case, Istvan quickly starts taking some questionable decisions that put him and his brother in real problems. Eventually Istvan gets himself arrested and transported to a backwater prison colony (that part, the book already pointing to connections with the Markers and government conspiracies).
Strangely this is in my opinion the best part of the book. Freed from his problematic family, Jensi starts to find happiness in life, getting a decent job, an apartment and some romantic relations. Not that he voluntarily ditches his brother. He simply gets all his attempts to contact his brother (at this point a proven assassin) completely blocked by authorities.
I know that he is his brother but Istvan is an incurable mental patient, killed at least two persons at this point in the story, always getting himself (involuntarily) into problems with his erratic and violent behaviors and nothing Jensi can do, would be able to help him.
Istvan would simply drag him down to murder and chaos, specially in a point in life where Jensi could finally attempt to achieve some kind of peace of mind after a troubled childhood. Even if he would rescue his brother successfully, the book makes quite clear that he knows, they would not have nowhere to flee and would be hunted down as escaped criminals.
And that is what exactly happens in the final half of the book. Jensi goes in search for his brother, knowing that the journey will only end in pain and suffering to everyone around them, including himself and his brother.
Eventually the Marker starts creating necromorphs and yet another zombie apocalypse occurs. Humans do stupid things and get killed, strengthening exactly the same thing, they tried to oppose. For every one reasonable decisions a character takes, three others make really bad ones destroying what little the first one had accomplished.
At this point, i was just remembering that famous phrase in the Aliens movie "Lets take off and nuke it from orbit. Only way to be sure".... :-)
A lot of side character appear during Jensi journey but their actions are mostly inconsequential in the plot. The book quickly kills them off or simply removes them from the story without any explanation of their destiny or relevance to the plot. Some of them, never even cross paths with Jensi or Istvan.
The ending is... strange but acceptable in the Dead Space universe. However, contrary to Martyr, it left me with a question in my mind. "What is the relevance of this events in the Dead Space universe?" Nothing new about the markers is disclosed not interacts with events from the games. (I played Dead Space 1 and 2).
Final thoughts: The book isn't terrible in itself, its quite well written for a solo novel but i expected more from a Dead Space franchise book. After all i bought it because its was A DEAD SPACE novel.
Set somewhere before the Dead Space 3 prologue (in the times of the Sovereign Colonies), it begins, very slowly, by introducing our two main characters, Jensi and Istvan, brothers from a slum with nothing going for them. Jensi is a fine-minded person but Istvan seems to suffer from extreme autism and ends up a political prisoner thanks to his madness. The novel never makes it clear if these are genuine mental health issues or if Istvan is actually being manipulated by the Marker from afar. If the latter is true it does feel quite disturbing, but the accidental ambiguity (since I don't think BK Evenson genuinely intended this) spoils it a little.
After a very sluggish start things pick up halfway through as Jensi attempts to rescue Istvan from a group of Unitologist fanatics. It's just about exciting enough to warrant a decent score but the darkness, horror, and agonising tension of the video games is simply not present here. The universe of Dead Space (pun intended) is probably the most chilling and bleakest of all horror I've been a fan of. It is so expansive and disturbing with little to no hope for humanity or any other species than the Necromorphs that it takes a lot of nerve to peek into that terrible darkness.
Sadly, Catalyst just fails to capture this and fumbles the potential. I did enjoy it overall, after initially hating it, but it just lacks inspiration.