Review | The Catalyst – Helena Coggan


  • Hardcover (Hodder & Stoughton, 448 pages)
  • Published February 2015
  • Rating on Goodreads: 2 stars
  • Review copy courtesy of Bookbridgr

“Rose Elmsworth has a secret. For eighteen years, the world has been divided into the magically Gifted and the non-magical Ashkind, but Rose’s identity is far more dangerous. At fifteen, she has earned herself a place alongside her father in the Department, a brutal law-enforcement organisation run by the Gifted to control the Ashkind. But now an old enemy is threatening to start a catastrophic war, and Rose faces a challenging test of her loyalties. How much does she really know about her father’s past? How far is the Department willing to go to keep the peace? And, if the time comes, will Rose choose to protect her secret, or the people she loves?”

Disorganised mess. Nope. Just. No. It really shows that the author was only thirteen when she first conceived the idea – the writing is disjointed, and jumps between styles. The descriptions are cliche, and the characters don’t jump out of the page. Nobody is really fleshed out; Rose is your stereotypical protagonist – not too pretty, not that attractive – oh but she has a GIFT. SHE’S UNUSUAL. IMPORTANT. WILL SAVE THE WORLD or some other plan like that.

I really admire Coggan for being published at 15 – after all, isn’t that every writer’s dream? – but I don’t think she has enough life experience to be able to give different characters different, cohesive voices. The adults don’t sound like adults. The younger characters sound like they’re trying to be adults. I just… I really wanted to like this. I really did. But it turned out to be every dystopian cliche in the book. I don’t recommend this. I really don’t. It’s a shame. It could have been fantastic – there are flashes of promises within – and yet, it isn’t. It really isn’t.


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