Monday, December 21, 2009

Book Review: Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

Summary from Goodreads:
Chemistry honors student and cross-country runner Kate Malone is driven. Daughter of a father who is a reverend first and a parent second ("Rev. Dad [Version 4.7] is a faulty operating system, incompatible with my software.") and a dead mother she tries not to remember, Kate has one goal: To escape them both by gaining entrance to her own holy temple, MIT. Eschewing sleep, she runs endlessly every night waiting for the sacred college acceptance letter. Then two disasters occur: Sullen classmate Teri and her younger brother, Mikey, take over Kate's room when their own house burns down, and a too-thin letter comes from MIT, signifying denial. And so the experiment begins. Can crude Teri and sweet Mikey, combined with the rejection letter, form the catalyst that will shake Kate out of her selfish tunnel vision and force her to deal with the suppressed pain of her mom's death? "If I could run all the time, life would be fine. As long as I keep moving, I'm in control." But for Kate, it's time to stop running and face the feelings she's spent her whole life racing away from.

My thoughts: I've read Speak by Laurie Halse Andersen a couple of years ago in Finnish. Reading Catalyst in English was a total different exprerience since the book was on it's original form, not translated to some other language. Andersen's language is so vivid and beuatiful and noticed that I was constantly analyzing the text by different ways. Someway Andersen's language reminded me a lot of Chuck Palahniuk's language in Fight Club. Andersen also uses a lot of short sentences to mimic the way Kate talks and thinks. In Fight Club listing is also used as a element to bring some order to the chaos and I was suprised to notice that someway the lists Kate makes in Catalyst also bring order to the chaotic life of Kate. Andersen also uses some type of black, sarcastic humor in this book which reminded me about Palahniuk.

Kate is the star student, the perfect daughter and girlfriend. Since she was young she has been dreaming about MIT, the school her mother also went. When MIT disapproves her and Teri and Mikey move to her room everything changes. Teri has been Kate's "enemy" since elementary school and living with her is hard. Kate opens her heart to new people, especially to Mikey, and notices that everything she thinks she knows can change just in a blink of a eye. After an shocking accident Kate has to start to think about her past, her mother and especially about her future. Is everything she wants to do just a flick of imagination? Does she even know what she really wants to do with her life?

I throughly enjoyed Catalyst by Laurie Halse Andersen. The beautiful use of language made me speecless, the character became familiar to me and I somehow were able to feel what Kate is going through. Catalyst is a young adult book with a deeper message and I promise it will make you think about your own life and the things that are important to you.


  1. Another brilliant review. Every happiness to you and your in the new year. I've enjoyed getting to know you.
    Warmest regards,

  2. I hadn't heard of this one but my daughter likes Anderson's books so I'll have to look for it.

  3. Oh, now I see that you've read Speak already so disregard my previous comment. ;) Thanks for the review of Catalyst, I haven't read it yet but it sounds really good!


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