Review: Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

Catalyst - Laurie Halse Anderson

Oh my god ... This book! It took me about four attempts to finish the thing. I just could not get a handle on it. Every time I set about to read the damn thing I just felt my eyelids sliding ever so slowly closed until I was fast asleep, drool and all. And I don't even read before bed, we're talking about like, lunchtime here!


My main beef with Catalyst is that I just didn't give a fuck about the main character and narrator, Kate. She is a smart, athletic, charitable high school kid with great grades and a great attitude to household chores ... But who cares?! She didn't get in to her beloved MIT and was too much of a cocky, smart-ass to apply to any safety colleges ... But who cares?! Honesty, the girl is so goddam boring that this book is definitely another candidate for my insomnia-cure shelf. The description of the high school was so clunky and awkward that I found myself picturing these people as a bunch of twenty-somethings too lazy to get up and get jobs, so they decided to sneak back to high school and play a role acting teenagers again until the end of time. It just didn't feel genuine to me.


The appearance of Teri, Kate's childhood bully-come-roommate after Kate's father, the compassionate and cardboard cut-out priest takes her and what we are led to believe is her brother in, offers a contrast. Teri is troubled and trouble. She steals, she has a poor school record, she is rough and she is a stereotype. There was so much scope to develop this character and add some sparkle and interest to the story which was missed out on, in my opinion. Teri fell very flat because she was not a real character but a plot device to give Kate some perspective on her own cushy life. And killing the little boy, who we discover is actually Teri's son by her own abusive father? Really? Was that really necessary? For a start the revelation about Teri's relationship to the kid went right over my head as a shocking twist because, as I've already stated Teri didn't stand out as a genuine, heart-felt character for me. And to kill the little boy just seems way over the top. Feels like point scoring to add some kind of emotional impact which I do not appreciate, not one little bit.


Basically, Catalyst is not so much a catalyst as a great big adolescent gripe. Kate! Get a grip on yourself girl! Reapply next year! The world will not end because you have to take a year out! In fact, many do that voluntarily! Teri! Quit nicking stuff and gain some characterisation! If I ever come across you again it would be nice if you had enough personality that I actually cared about you! And Laurie Halse Anderson! Shame on you for killing off an innocent character pointlessly to detract from the fact that your book has no plot and some dull as fuck characters! Really, for shame!