Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: Catalyst by Lydia Kang


Author: Lydia Kang
Release: March 24th 2015
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, YA
#2 in the Control duology
Series: Control (#1)


For fans of Uglies and The Maze Runner comes a complex, thrill-filled love story that will make you question exactly what it means to be human

In the past year Zel lost her father, the boy she loves, her safety, and any future she might have imagined for herself. Now she, her sister, and the band of genetic outcasts they've come to call their family are forced on the run when their safe house is attacked by men with neural guns. But on the way to a rumored haven in Chicago, Zel hears something--a whisper from Cy, the boy who traded himself for her sister's safety. And when she veers off plan in order to search for him, what she finds is not what she expected. There's more to their genetic mutations than they ever imagined...aspects that make them wonder if they might be accepted by the outside world after all.


Control was one of my best reads of the year in 2013, and is still one of my favorite books to date. It was probably the very first debut I have ever truly anticipated with baited breath, not knowing whether it'd be good or not. So, suffice it to say that this duology holds a special place in my heart. 

After the disaster that was Unleashed which I had just read a day ago, I can't tell you pleased and satisfied this sequel made me. It contained none of the shenanigans that one had, and delivered everything I could have ever wanted from a sequel like this. 

I know that a lot of people had some issues with Control — and rightly so. I'm not going to undermine those problems or try to find excuses for them. They're there, yes, but I still had one hell of a time reading that book and I'm not going to deny that. Nevertheless, Catalyst, in my eyes, sort of tried to make up for those mistakes and address them. 

Because we finally get to know our enemies. Or, former enemies. Faces like Caliga or Micah make re-appearances and try to make amends on their own terms. I especially loved the newfound camaraderie and friendship between Zelia and Caliga, which developed so naturally and realistically, with them supporting each other and helping each other at every turn. And it was so damn endearing. But not only theirs was great, the whole book's character's relationships were epic. Because they really are one big, dysfunctional family so to speak and they all get along on some level or another. I loved seeing all of that and the trust and loyalty shared between each and every one of them. There was no slut-shaming, talking bad about or bullying anyone anywhere. Everybody was treated with love and respect, which in and of itself sent a powerful message about acceptance, generally, the whole book with its premise taught a strong message about that topic.

Other than that, I still loved the characters. As I said, the former enemies take up much of the spotlight, with a lot of the old characters stepping aside in order for those to shine, and there are also new characters introduced. The development and evolution of those were spectacular and fascinating to observe; Kang did such an excellent job of slowly thawing the reader as well as Zelia herself to them. Or at least I think so. I'm sure a lot of people won't share my opinion on this matter, but I thought that there were lots of raw emotions hidden in this novel. 

The ending was as satisfying as it could have been. Of course, I would have loved to see more of this world and its inhabitants, but if it had to end, I'm glad it did this way. Because it tied everything up with enough openness that I'm left to wonder about all of it, but at the same time with enough closure that I know they'll be okay. And it's been hard won, with struggle and casualties along the way, so it feels like it's meaningful. And I think that's true for a lot of the novel — as I already said, acceptance was a huge theme of the book, but it also dealt with other important issues, like whether we really are just the product of our genetic makeup or whether he have a choice in who we are, it teaches us about family and forgiveness and companionship. Its themes are powerful, and they show in every pore of the novel.

I simply have no words for how much I really, really love this duology, and I'm so sad that it's already ended now. These characters, all of them, have crawled into my heart, which, to be perfectly honest with you, is a novelty for me these days. I have read so many books already, and finding new favorites where I truly and actually connect with the characters on a deep emotional level is so rare, it's almost never happened. I have my crew of favorite characters and books around me that have been around since I first started reading books as much as I currently am and back when I was still much more impressionable, and those have stayed with me always. So, letting new books and characters in ... it just doesn't ever happen. But it did with this duology, for which I'll forever be grateful and I'll forever protect these two books and all of their flaws with all I have. 

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