Catalyst

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4.0 (15)
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Catalyst
Publisher
Age Range
12+
Release Date
September 30, 2002
ISBN
0670035661
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Meet Kate Malone-straight A science and math geek, minister's daughter, ace long-distance runner, girlfriend, unwilling family caretaker, emotional avoidance champion. Kate manages her life by organizing it, as logically as the periodic table. She can handle it all-or so she thinks. Then, like a string of chemical reactions, everything happens: the Malones' neighbors get burned out of their home and move in. Because her father is a Good Man of God (and a Not Very Thoughtful Parent), Kate has to share her room with her nemesis, Teri Litch, and Teri's adorable, troublemaking little brother. And through it all, she's still waiting to hear from the only college she has applied to: MIT. Kate's life is less and less under control-and then, something happens that blows it all apart, and forces her to examine her life, self, and heart for the first time. Set in the same community as the remarkable Speak, Catalyst is a novel that will make you think, laugh, cry, and rejoice-sometimes at the same time.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

What Amazing Writing
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
After my last read, not to be confused with my last review, I needed something powerful and beautiful and character-driven. Catalyst turned out to be a perfect choice. Until now, my experience with Laurie Halse Anderson consisted solely of Speak. At that time, I didn't really read much realistic fiction, and I mostly steered away from unhappy books. As such, I really was not sure what to make of it, and could not appreciate it as much as I know I could now. Having read and super liked Catalyst, I'm pretty sure I need to reread Speak soon.

Speaking of Speak (which is published by Speak), Catalyst actually takes place in the very same high school, and Melinda makes a brief appearance. The Melinda here seems pretty happy and is still doing her art. Yay! Of course, she was only in for a page, but, hey, it was nice to see her and to get the sense that she's actually recovered. I really love when authors reference previous works.

Laurie Halse Anderson's writing makes me want to spin around Julie Andrews style because of how freaking wonderful it is. Seriously, if I had to quantify my favorite writing style, it would be one that is dark, funny, and dripping with wit. Her writing here fits in perfectly with John Green's and A.S. King's, in the category of writing so good that it kind of makes me never want to write anything, since I can never be that good at putting things into words.

Of course, Anderson does not merely excel at writing. She backs it up with characterization. Kate Malone bursts with personality. She has both teenage hubris and insecurity in spades. Her voice is powerful and acerbic. A pastor's daughter, she has developed a dichotomy within herself of how she's supposed to act and all the things she wants to say: Good Kate and Bad Kate. While this technique can be awful when done wrong, Anderson used it effectively. It just fit Kate and her rigorous need to be perfect warring with her judgmental personality.

Kate loves math and science, dreams of attending MIT, her late mother's alma mater. She's done everything she can: earned the grades, taken the tests, filled her life with extracurriculars, excelled at a sport, volunteered at her father's church, and worked part-time at a pharmacy. She's a shoe-in, right? Well, she told herself that anyway when she decided to apply only to MIT and nowhere else...even when she wasn't accepted early decision.

With the letter, hopefully the fat one, from MIT due any day, Kate cannot sleep, spending most of every night running or performing household chores. The own stresses in her life are put into perspective by a larger tragedy that forces her into a relationship with her childhood tormenter, Teri Litch. The main detractor in the novel was that I felt like Kate forgave Teri much too easily and let her get away with too much. The whole time I kept yelling at her to get the watch and necklace (both with sentimental value) Teri stole from her back.

Another wonderful thing about this book: the romance. Unlike most YA, it's not about Kate's relationship, nor does it include a new love interest. She already has a boy, Mitchell, her former rival, who she argues with a lot less now that they spend quite a bit of time kissing. Also setting this book apart, Mitchell is not the kind of guy most girls would find attractive, but Kate still thinks he's hot, which was so cute and refreshing. Their relationship definitely reads like one that will not last long once they go to college, and it was so much more authentic than all of these soulmates confessing their love on a first date.

While I do think some of the plotting elements were a bit rushed, I loved this book for the characterization, the writing and for completely surprising me. Seriously, there was a twist I did not see coming at all. Anyway, Anderson is brilliant, in case you didn't know that already.
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Overall rating 
 
4.0
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4.0  (15)
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Moving, powerful
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Dede

Kate is the preachers daughter and struggles to be the good Kate that every one expects her to be.  She has a bad Kate side to her that she feels at times.  Kate is getting ready to graduate and she only applied to one college, MIT, because that is where her mother went to college and it's the only place she wants to go.  (Her mother died years ago)  Kate is popular and outgoing, the total opposite of Teri, who is an angry outcast and a thief and takes care of her little brother and out of sync mother after her father was jailed for beating her mother up.  I didn't like Kate's character very much at the beginning, but as she grew outside of her comfort area and looked at the world through other people's eyes, I began to feel more for her.  When her letter from MIT arrives and it's a rejection, she panicks and feels like her life is over.  When Teri's house burns partially down, Kate's dad takes Teri and her little brother in until volunteers can fix up their house.  Kate slowly gets to know Teri better and starts to understand her.  Then a catastrophe happens which opens up a whole new reality for everyone.  Kate runs alot starting in the beginning of the book and it's interesting to learn why.  This book will make you look at things differently.  It may have been even more powerful if the author would have switched perceptions/stories from Kate to Teri after the catalyst happened, but this is still a very powerful book. 
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great book
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Hillary

Catalyst is one of my very favorite books. It was written by the author of Speak, Fever 1793, and several other books. Her most recent book is Twisted which I am not so patiently waiting for it to be released in paperback. Darn books, why can't they all just be the same?

This book is about a high school girl named Kate Malone. Throughout the book, she's waiting to get her college acceptance letter from her first, and only, choice college. All of a sudden, something horrible happens and everything changes. Her entire lifestyle gets a total makeover and she doesn't take it very well. She still tries to keep up her grades, life, and sanity but everything seems to be falling apart. By the end of the book she seems to have gone through so much emotional turmoil that a normal person would have checked themselves into a hospital but she seems to hold it all together pretty well. The ending to the book tied it together quite nicely in my opinion.

The book was wonderful. I could really relate to the main character. She was very likable. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a more serious book to read. Though it isn't a mainly funny book, it had some moments where I couldn't help but laugh, no matter how weird it looked. I liked it so much that I made my sister read it. She enjoyed it too, even though she doesn't normally read that much.
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Touching... and relatable!
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Matt Hill

In this novel, Kate Malone, a high-school senior, a minister's daughter, and an excellent scholor & scientist, has been waiting and waiting for acceptance into MIT - the school that her mother, now deceased, went to. But, in the midst of all this, her enemy's barn and house caches fire, and her father takes the family in, much to Kate's dismay. But, as far as problems with Teri are concerned, she eventually gets to know her better, and they reconcile, if only for a little while! I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially if you are in high school, or deal with the college acceptance stress a lot. This is a great read; go out and get it today!
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Losing Control Isn't All That Bad
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Megan

Overachiever Kate Malone has one major wish for her senior year: to be accepted at MIT, the only school she applied to. However, she didn't expect for her neighbor's house to catch fire... or for her worst enemy Teri Litch to have to move in with her family. Once she finds out that she was rejected from MIT, she almost falls apart... until a huge tragedy puts her life into a better perspective. Laurie Halse Anderson delivers a stunning novel once again.
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A great story
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by linda

From the author of "Speak" comes a story about a "good girl" who's only wish is to get into MIT. Kate loves science and was hoping MIT would ignore her horrible entrance essays and allow her in but things don't turn out the way she expected them to. Her father is a preacher and feels that it is his duty to offer their house to a teen and a child whose house has burned down. Unfortunately the girl is Kate's enemy and though they don't really become friends in the end, Kate helps her go through a very tragic time in her life. Kate realizes that there's more to life than MIT.
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must read!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by The Lit Chick

i like this book because it tells the inside story of a braniac like kate. so she's smart, but that doesn't mean life for her is an easy ride or a sure thing. laurie halse anderson uses her signature first person view and that gives readers insights into kate's minds. so the emotion's there.
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nothing new
Overall rating 
 
1.0
Plot 
 
1.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by artemis

I can't believe I wasted my time with this book. It's very slow and the plot takes forever to develop. It wasn't interesting in the slightest bit and a found the girl who Kate decides to take in very cruel. It was predictable, unrealistic and similar to others I've read on this subject. So glad I borrowed it from the library.
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Not enough
Overall rating 
 
3.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by FxOxG

Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson was not too interesting to me yet it may be different to you. I read the book because I thought Speak was amazing yet was a little let down.
Catalyst is about Kate Malone who stresses about getting into the college of her choice. She applied to MIT and no other, now she must deal with the stress of her every day life and the worry of not getting accepted to her dream college.
I reccomend it to some people because soem of my friends did enjoy it yet it might be too boring for some.
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Has some good morals
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by Nicki

Kate is a preacher's daughter and a high achiever in high school, particularly in math and science. All her friends are also high achievers; her boyfriend got into Harvard. Kate's dream is to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where her dead mother went. She applied only to that school and was devastated at her rejection. At the same time, one of Kate's childhood enemy's house burns down, and the bully and her family move into Kate's house. She has to cope with all of this and figure out what to do with the rest of her life.
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Astonishing!!!
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
0.0
Writing Style 
 
0.0
Reader reviewed by BoogerCoatBrady

Catalyst was awesome, I loved how it opened with her running at night. It was so sad how her mom died, and she nor her dad wanted to talk about it, but her brother wanted to know all about it.
It was really nice of her family to share their home with someone whose house had burnt down.
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