The Catalyst by Helena Coggan

Monday 13 March 2017

The Catalyst
Helena Coggan
Genre(s): Dystopia, Fantasy, Young Adult
Published: February 19th 2015
Pages: 448
Rating: 1 star

Rose Elmsworth has a secret. For eighteen years, the world has been divided into the magically Gifted and the non-magical Ashkind, but Rose's identity is far more dangerous. At fifteen, she has earned herself a place alongside her father in the Department, a brutal law-enforcement organisation run by the Gifted to control the Ashkind. But now an old enemy is threatening to start a catastrophic war, and Rose faces a challenging test of her loyalties. How much does she really know about her father's past? How far is the Department willing to go to keep the peace? And, if the time comes, will Rose choose to protect her secret, or the people she loves?

The Catalyst
has a complex world and magic system, there’s no denying that. It took me a while to get my head around the Gifted, Leeched, and Ashkind and where they stood in society. And that was before I moved on to trying to understand the War and the Angels and the Department…

It’s extremely impressive that Coggan was published at such a young age – don’t get me wrong – but I feel as if her age is also extremely apparent throughout her novel. I found this mostly in the writing style which needed fine tuning. Some sentences brought me straight back to my Year Six and Seven writing – not something an author should be aiming for. Some sentences were stilted and some were so long I had to re-read them a few times. Others were missing commas (or rather, I thought they were; I’m a habitual comma splicer so maybe don’t listen to me) and some words just seemed… out of place. I’m all for expanding your vocabulary, but some of the ‘big’ words just felt off next to everything else.

A lot of the characterisations felt one-sided and childish; the main character was the typical snarky, less than perfect teen who is much wiser than all the adults, and the adults just didn’t feel like adults. Rose and David felt more like hero and sidekick than father and daughter. And David wasn’t the hero. The younger characters, especially Tabitha, all felt far too clever and knowledgeable in comparison to the older ones who came across as very childish.

The plot jumped from place to place and nothing ever really seemed to be fully explained, and even when things were explained I still didn’t fully understand anything. The prologue managed to pull you in, but once you were part of the story you were left thinking ‘now what?’ It was as if Coggan thought she’d provided all the necessary information, but then realised it wasn’t enough and scrambled to explain things more fully. All in all, it felt all over the place. Explain as you go, don’t delegate every other chapter to world building.

I wanted to like this; it seemed mysterious and set itself up to be an interesting young adult fantasy. Its biggest downfall was that it was so bloody boring. This isn’t a long book but my god did it feel like one. Each page was a chore to read and I had to force myself to push through in order to complete it. Curse my inability to leave a book unfinished.

Don’t subject yourself to the same torture – give this one a miss.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Got a thought or an opinion? I'd love to hear it.

design by amanda inez