Thank you to Dave and Tracy Richardson for providing an e-arc as part of this blog tour!
Author: Tracy Richardson
Series: The Catalysts #2
Published on June 2nd 2020
by Brown Books Publishing Group
Genre/Age Range: YA Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Source: Blog Tour
Marcie is spending her summer working on the archaeological dig that her mother runs: Angel Mounds, a site of an ancient indigenous civilization. Soon after she arrives, she meets some intriguing individuals, and becomes wrapped up in a supernaturally-charged mission to save the planet from the destruction man has brought upon itself.
Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained-an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since.
This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archaeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds-something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with. Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history. It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.
I really wanted to like Catalyst. I love that more and more books talk about the environment and that we can’t continue the way we do things now. I love that especially YA books take on this theme and I was also really curious about the work at the archaeological dig. I study anthropology so I know a thing or two about digs.
The concept of Catalyst was really good and had so much potential but unfortunately, the book just wasn’t for me.
The beginning was kind off rough. It all happened so fast, Marcie, her brother Eric and his girlfriend Renee just arrived at the dig site when Lorraine and Zeke tell all of them what they can do. That really threw me off and I would have loved some more development there.
Speaking of development: While the first half of the book often felt like a long outline rather than a full-fleshed out novel that improved a lot in the second half! The writing flowed a lot better, the sentence structure was better and the dialogue more natural, too. Although, I still struggled with the dialogue especially.
I already told you that Catalyst has a huge focus on the environment and one storyline is about fracking. I already knew a lot about fracking but I still learnt some new facts which I really appreciate. If you don’t know anything about fracking you’ll get a lot of facts and different argument for or against it.
This storyline was my favourite. I liked how Marcie and her crush Leo had different opinions and the issues that arose from that. Although I would have prefered a deeper and even more nuanced look at this. Again, great potential that wasn’t fully explored in my opinion.
I liked the side characters, Eric, Renee and Leo the most. Renee was in anti-fracking, too but she still had trouble accepting everything Zeke and Lorraine told them and needed time to process which I really liked. Marcie felt a bit like a cardboard advertisement. Like .. look, this is how you should act! I’m really not a fan of books that tell me what the message is. I’d rather read it in between the lines, but I guess, that’s just my personal preference. The sibling dynamic between Marcie and Eric felt very realistic though.
This is definitely a plot-driven and not a character-driven story though.
There were a few scenes that I really liked! For example when Marcie got frustrated by Lorraines’ cryptic answers. Yes, girl!
I also think the book would have benefited from being written in 3rd POV, limited so we could still have focused on Marcie and her views and experiences but it would have flowed better to include all the extra info we needed (like her past experiences, who Mr Clement was etc). In first person (present tense) a lot of her thoughts felt unnatural and stilted (but so did the dialogue a lot of the times …)
If you don’t want any spoilers, don’t click but there are some things I had to mention
Okay, so Catalyst went really out there. And it was definitely not what I was expecting! and to be honest, it was way too much for me. There was just a whole lot going on. We have the fracking storyline for one; then the ‘you can do basically anything with your thoughts! just vibrate at a higher frequency’ star beings and then the questioning by the FBI (that was sooo unreal) and I haven’t even gotten to Jesus in Space as a member of the Galactic Council besides Osiris and Isis (and more) …
It felt like too much all at once. I would have preferred the novel staying on Earth and Zeke and Lorraine having learned to access the power of their thoughts from shamans or other spiritual guides instead of them being Star Beings etc. OR just the Sci-Fi route without the fracking storyline and the teenage romance. It didn’t really work together for me.
On top of that, I have to say that the portrayal of the indigenous culture rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t know too much about it but it felt very stereotypical. Some references or scenes left me feeling uncomfortable. I would have preferred to have Zeke and Lorraine be Native American and share their culture and knowledge about living with nature instead of against it, with the group to help the environment. It would have been a wonderful opportunity to learn more about indigenous culture and how they respect the Earth. That would have been more impactful for me and would have felt less … appropriating.
All in all, the book had a lot of potential but fell short for me. A lot of the things I mentioned are probably personal preference and I really liked the theme of trying to stop destroying the environment and how each and everyone can help make a change. I think that’s an amazing message to have in a book and I’m glad there are books being written about it. Also the few scenes we got at the Angel Mound dig site were really interesting and I would have loved to read more about that!
The paranormal / science fictions aspects threw me off though, they were a bit too bizarre for me to like (and I had to text my friend every three sentences because I needed someone to talk too) but it was a quick read and certainly makes you think about some things!
Tracy Richardson wasn’t always a writer, but she was always a reader. Her favourite book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In a weird way, that book has even shaped her life through odd synchronicities. She has a degree in biology like Mrs Murry, and, without realizing it, she named her children Alex and Katie after Meg’s parents. Tracy uses her science background in her writing through her emphasis on environmental issues, metaphysics, and science fiction. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her doing any number of creative activities — painting furniture, knitting sweaters, or cooking something. She lives in Indianapolis, and, in case you’re wondering, yes, she’s been to the Indianapolis 500.