Top positive review
Not perfect, but 5 stars anyway for the courage and the depth
Reviewed in the United States on July 18, 2009
Catalyst is not a perfect book. No book is. That said, it kept me spellbound into all hours of the night, because I just had to know what happened to Kate and Terri. I somewhat agree with the reader that said the novel follows a progression from a self-centered Kate to a less self-centered Kate, EXCEPT that I see Kate as more self-protective than self-centered. Don't any of you adults out there remember what it was like to be a teenager? When you felt like your entire life was out of your control and hung by the thread of other people's decisions? As a chronic overachiever who struggles with performance anxiety, I could relate A LOT to Kate.
There were times that I thought she should have felt a little guiltier about focusing on the MIT rejection instead of on Terri, BUT then again, Terri's situation was so horrifying it would be difficult for someone as young as Kate to process. In fact, that was one of my few gripes with the book--that what happens to Terri seems a bit over the top. Yes, there are people out there with even worse stories, but I wondered if there was any way to simplify the plot line to include just one or two of those events. But that still didn't take away from the overall power of the book for me, and I wound up by the end liking both Terri and Kate very much.
And as for the reviewer who said she was appalled at the choice of this for a summer reading list, well, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, yes, this deals with some very taboo subjects that parents may not want their children exposed to. But I think it really depends on the age of the child. Would I want my fourteen year old to read this? Perhaps not. My sixteen or seventeen year old? Most likely. Ultimately, though, I am glad books like this exist. Wouldn't you rather your teenager navigate the waters of difficult subjects through a sensitive, well-written book like this than through watching any number of television shows or YouTube videos? This stuff is out there. People do struggle with issues like this. At some point, your child WILL be exposed to these subjects, whether or not they are in a public school. By the time most teens read a book like this, there's a good chance they will have ALREADY encountered them.