It’s been two years since Lydia Kang’s debut novel Control, a sci-fi story with its compelling take on genetics came out. And even though it wasn’t the type of novel that I usually gravitated towards, I did enjoy it exceedingly. Going into Catalyst, I was slightly worried since it has been awhile since I read Control. Thankfully, Catalyst made it incredibly effortless to jump right back into the world Kang has created.
Catalyst takes place a year after the events of Control and I love that it immediately gets into the action and adventure as the characters are once again forced to be on the run and to separate from each other. This gives us readers, an opportunity to explore the rest of the world that Kang has created. And as a Canadian, I found it interesting how the Canada in this world was portrayed as a safe haven for refugees including those with mutations.
Anyway, unlike Control, the romance takes a backseat in Catalyst. While it is alluded to, the romantic relationship doesn’t overwhelm the core story. Instead Catalyst has the protagonist, Zel spending the majority of the book attempting to reunite with those she’s been separated from, all while fighting for basic human rights for all those who are viewed as “alien” for the reason that they have mutated genes which were the result of someone else’s experiments. This lets us get a glimpse of just how capable Zel is outside the lab, since we already are aware of how much of a genius she is in the lab. I really liked how it’s shown that both Zel and her sister, Dyl are excellent scientists and that it is something that is viewed as a marvelous ability on its own.
In fact, I consider the greatest strength of Catalyst is the portrayals of strong, female relationships. For instance, the friendship that slowly develops between Zel and another girl who had initially been her enemy was realistic and it was nice to observe them both slowly begin to truly care about what happens to the other. I also adored the mother-daughter relationship between Marka and Zel as it was nice for Zel to acknowledge that Marka was the closest thing she had to an actual parent especially after what she found out concerning her father.
Overall, Catalyst was a book that I blew through fairly quickly to my surprised. In fact when I reached the conclusion, I was surprised that there wasn’t anything further to read. However, I did find Catalyst to be a satisfying conclusion to this duology and I loved the message it had regarding genetics and what it truly means to be human.
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.