Review: Catalyst by Lydia Kang

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Catalyst by Lydia KangCatalyst by Lydia Kang
Series: Control #2
Published by Kathy Dawson Books on March 24, 2015
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover
Source: the publisher
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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.

Initially, I was reluctant to read Catalyst. I wasn’t a huge fan of Control (which was disappointing, since I had hoped to love it!) and it took me a few weeks before I decided I was ready to pick up Catalyst. Though it wasn’t without its faults, I definitely enjoyed the plot, connected more with the characters and felt satisfied with the ending.

Zelia ended up having a lot of character growth in the end, which was nice since she didn’t have too much growth in Control. She had a lot of personal revelations and a lot of things she went through in Control, don’t get me wrong. But she didn’t grow much. In Catalyst, I felt like she had to focus and take charge more. She couldn’t make the rash decisions she made in Control. More people were depending on her this time around.

Once again, I feel like we didn’t see much of Dyl. Though we saw enough for me to know she also had some character growth, I can’t say how much or exactly why. I was really hoping to see more of her in Catalyst, but I enjoyed the parts we did see her in. First of all, she was in a better, safer environment. So her health was better, as was her mental and emotional state. She was very focused on the tasks given to her and she had to be incredibly mature to get through some of the revelations that were thrown her way.

Once again, Cy annoyed me for the first half of the book. He refused to open up to Zelia and seek her help. He kept everything to himself, believing it would somehow protect her. I’m so sick of male love interests who think they can “protect” someone by keeping secrets. And even once he started “opening up” and being kind to her again, I still had a hard time liking him because I couldn’t get past how he treated Zelia previously. Again, re: Arin from The Winner’s Curse!

I know we probably weren’t supposed to like or trust Caliga, but I definitely felt sorry for her and she definitely grew on me. Of all the characters, I loved her growth the most. She became one of my favorite characters. On the other hand, Micah was.. Frustrating. Every move was calculated, meant to put him on the winning team. I wanted to like him so, so much. But I just couldn’t trust him, so I could never fully like him. But then that ending.. Wow.. I really didn’t expect that.

And then there was Blink. Well. I never liked her and I never trusted her. And I’m not entirely shocked by the way things ended with her.

The revelation with Kria didn’t surprise me at all. I think that reveal was supposed to be A Big Deal. But it felt really anticlimactic, honestly. And the revelations with Zelia and Dylia’s father.. That made me sad, too. But I loved, loved, LOVED Marka and who she was to all the kids in their little group. She was the mother figure they all needed and I adored her.

The plot was definitely more intriguing in Catalyst than it was in Control. Catalyst is broken down into three parts – Part one was my favorite. I loved the events in part one, as well as the excellent pacing; part one just flew by! Part two had some interesting revelations and a few intriguing events took place. But otherwise, part two was my least favorite; it was slow-paced and it dragged. Finally, while part three was better than part two, it was still a bit meh. The idea of Wingfield was awesome in theory, but poorly executed. And in the end, it was a moot point.

The ending felt a bit rushed but it was interesting. I know this was the end of the duology, but I’d kinda like to know what happens next, see how things turn out for everyone. I don’t know if a third book is necessary, but maybe a short sequel novella or something. I’d definitely read that!

So, with all the negatives listed above, I’m sure you’re curious why I rated this 4-stars. Because, despite some complaints, I really did enjoy Catalyst a LOT more than Control. The plot was more intriguing, the pace picked up (especially in part one and part three) and I connected a lot more with the characters, even when they frustrated or annoyed me. I still liked them and felt for them, way more than I did with Control. And despite the rushed ending, the ending was very intriguing. Though I still have questions and would love to see what happens next, the ending felt like it wrapped up in a realistic way that was appropriate for the characters and where their story was by the end of the book.

If you loved Control, you’ll definitely enjoy Catalyst. And if you were on the fence about Control, then I’d definitely give Catalyst a chance – It just might surprise you!


Review: Control by Lydia Kang

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Control by Lydia KangControl by Lydia Kang
Series: Control #1
Published by Speak on December 26, 2013
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

"Control blew me away. The twists and turns and suspense made for a thrilling ride . . . Highly recommended" - James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner

Set in 2150 -- in a world of automatic cars, nightclubs with auditory ecstasy drugs, and guys with four arms -- this is about the human genetic "mistakes" that society wants to forget, and the way that outcasts can turn out to be heroes.

When their overprotective father is killed in a terrible accident, Zel and her younger sister, Dylia, are lost in grief. But it's not until strangers appear, using bizarre sensory weapons, that the life they had is truly eviscerated. Zel ends up in a safe house for teens that aren't like any she's ever seen -- teens who, by law, shouldn't even exist. One of them -- an angry tattooed boy haunted by tragedy -- can help Zel reunite with her sister.

But only if she is willing to lose him.

Control is a difficult book to review. I enjoyed it but it didn’t grab me and pull me in the way I’d hoped it would. The pacing, especially in the first half of the book, was slow. The characters were hard to connect to. And though the plot was fascinating, I had trouble understanding some of the scientific mojo, which left me confused and lost for a good portion of the book.

For the most part, I liked Zelia. She was an interesting character, very headstrong and stubborn. She was incredibly loyal to her sister, but sometimes that caused her to make stupid decisions. I really wanted to reach through the book and shake some sense into her! Though I liked that she was a take-charge person and refused to sit on the sidelines and let others do her dirty work, I also think her hastiness cost her more than it gained her. If she had slowed down and enlisted help, things might have turned out differently.

In the first half of the book, Cy annoyed the crap out of me. He was so mean to Zelia, though not without his reasons, I suppose. But he kind of reminded me of Arin from The Winner’s Curse. I wanted to like him so much, but his attitude and the way he treated Zelia.. Nope. But then in the second half of the book, he started to change and open up more. He treated Zelia better and, wow, major swoons and all the feels!

Dylia was.. Well, honestly, she was a brat and it felt like her only role was to be a pawn who set the book’s events into motion. There didn’t seem to be any other purpose for her. I’m hoping we see more of her in Catalyst and that she gets a bigger role, so we can see more of her personality. I’m hoping for a lot of character growth with her.

There was a huge cast of secondary characters in this book. In the beginning, it was impossible to keep track of them. I had to write their names down with their traits and my initial feelings. I pictured Hex as the protective big brother of the group. Oddly enough, I saw him as Kellan Lutz, a.k.a Emmet Cullen. Except with four arms.

Initially, I liked Wilbert. He was a bit immature, but nice, smart and reliable. He reminded me of the kid brother of the group. But then the ending… Wow. Didn’t see that coming!

I really liked Vera, though she was cold and bratty in the beginning. By the middle/end, she calms down and cools off and I really like her. Finally, I never fully trusted Marka. She almost seemed too perfect, like she was trying too hard in an attempt to hide something. I think one of my favorite characters was Ana. I’d love to see more of her story in Catalyst!

Then there’s Micah. I don’t even know if I can talk about Micah without getting all ragey. I absolutely adored him and then.. Ugh. I can’t, spoilers. But when you read it, you’ll know. The best I can do is compare him to Maven from Red Queen, so if you’ve read that, you know why I’m filled with rage.

There are a few more characters that I couldn’t stand – like Zelia’s father, SunAj, the whole Aureus crew.. But really, there’s not much to say except that they were evil and horrible and I can’t stand them. So that’s that. The only other thing I have to say is, Zelia’s dad might have thought he was protecting his daughters… But he really went about it the wrong way and probably made things a whole lot worse.

As I mentioned, the pacing was very slow, especially in the first half of the book. Though I read the first half very quickly, it still seemed to drag. Then it took me days to really get into the second half, though the second half picked up a lot. The weirdest thing, though, was that once I started reading, I was fine and could read huge chunks in one sitting. But once I put the book down, I didn’t really want to pick it up again and sometimes went days without reading.

There was a lot of scientific talk that I didn’t understand at all. I don’t think Kang could have dumbed it down at all, because it seemed like most of it was as basic as it could get. Maybe it was just me, but I just couldn’t understand it and that distracted me from the overall story.

The plot was definitely fascinating and, above all else, it was what kept me reading. The plot felt like a believable, real thing that could actually happen in our near future. It was both interesting and terrifying to think about. I was desperate to see how it all ended. Plus, there were some epic twists that I didn’t see coming.

The end was a bit crazy and disorganized, not to mention a little bit rushed. But it also broke my heart. For just a little while, I was convinced that the characters would get a happily ever after, then Kang yanked the rug out from under me and chaos ensued.

Overall, though the pacing was slow and I had trouble connecting to the characters, I enjoyed Control. The second half of the book picked up enough that I’m interested in reading Catalyst to see what happens to the characters (that I grew to love) and to find out how they get out of the mess they’re in. I’m also dying to see what happens next for Cy, not to mention crossing my fingers for more Zelia + Cy (do they have a ship name?!?!) feels!

I would recommend this book to those who like futuristic thrillers with genetic modification and lots of science. If you like that sort of thing, you’ll love Control!