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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Saga of the Radicals: Catalyst

Author: Matti McLean
Originally Published: 2011
Publisher: Brighter Books Publishing
Source: Purchased at FanExpo 2011

The Story

From the publisher’s website:

Micah lives a perfectly adequate life in an orderly, predictable world, filled with government rules designed to control the people and prevent uprising. He is a loner, not by choice, but by circumstance; his mother died when he was young, and his father was never in the picture. Having friends would imply Micah had free time, but his constant work at Jericho ensured he had none.
Until one Tuesday evening.

After a surprise encounter in a dark alley, Micah’s life begins to quickly change, and he starts to question the seemingly perfect world around him. He soon finds out no one is what they seem to be… and that includes himself. Catalyst is a fast-paced sci-fi about a dystopian society which controls their inhabitants out of fear of what they may be able to accomplish. Micah’s world is full of clones, cyborgs, super powers, mutants and advanced technology. Catalyst, and its sequels, will delight young readers everywhere and bring up the question: Are you reaching your potential?

The Response

Decided to pick this up after listening to a 30 second pitch from the author at FanExpo about how this was like Nineteen Eighty-Four meets X-men. Love dystopian fiction, and love the X-men, so obviously I needed this. Obviously. Started reading it as soon as I got home from the con on Saturday night and finished it the next day.

This is the author’s first novel, but he has written a number of written plays. It is obvious that the author has had a lot of experience writing – it is extremely well constructed, character development is extremely well done, and the plot pulled me in immediately. That said, it’s also obvious that this is the author’s first novel &nadsh; specifically in the sentence structure, which had very little variety (about half of the sentences started with “he” or “Micah”). As the plot pulled me into it right from the first page, this thankfully didn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the book, like it typically would do.

I really did thoroughly enjoy this one. Loved the characters, loved the story, couldn’t 100% tell who the good guys actually were until well into the book, and now I really wish the next one in the series was already out. As well as being a cross between Nineteen Eight-Four and X-Men, it is also reminiscent both of the first Matrix movie and of Mark Millar & J. G. Jones’ Wanted comics. This very much made me quite happy, as it was elements that I enjoyed from both that were present in this novel.

I think what I liked best about this novel, however, was how gritty it was; this is something I’ve always really enjoyed about dystopian fiction. McLean doesn’t make his book overly bleak in the grittiness, but it still shows how oppressive society has become. Almost chilling, really. Makes you thankful that you don’t live there. I really hope that this portion of the world is explored more in future novels in the series.

The Bottom Line

Am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the books in this series. Highly recommended to fans of dystopian fiction.

Other Reviews

DJ’s Life in Fiction. Have you reviewed this book on your blog? Let me know and I’ll add your link.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:31 am August 31, 2011.
Category: Young Adult
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  • http://awakeninglisa.net Lisa

    Nineteen Eighty-Four meets X-men basically makes it a MUST Read for me.