Sunday, January 27, 2013
Review of The Catalyst by Chris Reher
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My overall review-- 4 stars out of 5 * * * *
Cleanliness scale-- 3 stars out of 5 * * *
Disclaimer: I took a bunch of notes on this book using my laptop, but because my 2-year-old did a WWF move on my laptop, I'm not able to access them. I will do my best with ye old brain and my questionable memory.
I started this book while I was waiting for a treadmill to open up at the gym. I was with my husband, and after the first couple of pages, I turned to him and said, "I'm officially impressed. This is well-written!" There was a part in the beginning where the main character, Nova, had to communicate silently with a fellow soldier, and the description of their wordless conversation was unique.
I like Nova, the main character, as well as Seth, her love interest and kind of co-main character. They had fun personalities, and Nova was relatable. As far as writing goes, this is more like a 4.5 star book, but there were a few issues I had with it that took a star away. The main one was a general feeling of confusion through some of the plot points and descriptions. I had to go back and read things over several times, and even then I was left kind of scratching my head. I would have loved to see some more detailed descriptions of all these space bases, alien worlds, and interesting characters. There were quite a few moments where Reher gave a dead on, stellar description of something, and then others were she kind of glossed over it. I'm all for letting the reader use their imagination to fill in the gaps, but there were so many gaps that I couldn't envision most of their locations.
I also had a hard time keeping up with the terminology. Maybe that's just me, though. I can't remember the last time I even read a Sci-Fi novel, so perhaps it's just that I am unaccustomed to the usual terms used, but there were some words Reher used that left me disoriented. I'm sure if I read the book again, I would pick up on some things I missed, but as a once-read-through, I feel like I was uninformed about much of this universe and story.
On the plus side, I'm a huge fan of the T.V. show "Firefly," and I'm willing to bet that Ms. Reher is, too. It had that feel about it. It was gritty and realistic, and some of the worlds they visited were almost old fashioned feeling...except that they have laser guns you can set to stun, and blue-haired, Spock-like creatures who can control ships with their minds.
Nova and Seth had a fun, playful relationship that was enjoyable to read about. I gave the book 3 stars for cleanliness because it's not like it was erotica by any means, nor even all that dirty, but I wouldn't let my kids read it, personally. She was detailed enough that I could picture what they were doing, and that for me makes it more on the "unclean" side. And on that note, they totally had sex while there was a battle and monsters eating each other going on outside the door of a freezing, underground prison. It was a little random. Bad timing guys? Just a little?
I do wish there had been just a teensy bit more of a crescendo as far as the climax of the story goes. It was good, and certainly satisfying, but I could see where it was going as we went, and there wasn't a whole lot of suspense. Taking a description from my aunt, I wasn't exactly clenching my butt in apprehension for the characters.
What I did love was the really neat idea about the water ash (trying not to spoil that for you), and the interactions between Nova and Seth. They were a great couple, and they fit so well together you don't even have to really think about it. Nova and Seth are a twosome from the very beginning. The author also made me laugh out loud a couple of times, which I commend. The plot was serious, and some pretty gory stuff goes down, but it's interjected with some good one-liners by Seth, especially.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Catalyst. I look forward to seeing more from Chris in the future, and I hope she keeps writing stories like this. She has a real talent for fluid writing that seems effortless. You can just tell when an author loves what they are writing, and Reher must have really enjoyed this story to give it as much life as she did.
The bottom line: If you like the show, "Firefly," and you have a weekend to devote to a fun Sci-Fi novel, get this one! But only if you are an adult, or if you aren't offended by a little sex.