Welcome to day seven of the Catalyst blog tour! Below you will find my book review for this young adult science fiction novel by author Tracy Richardson. I will not be revealing any spoilers in my review.
Many thanks go to The Write Reads for putting together this tour, and for inviting me to participate alongside a [great] number of talented bloggers. You can find information on the author and where to get a copy of the book at the bottom of this post.
Marcie Horton has a sixth sense. Not in the “I see dead people” way, but . . . well, maybe a little. She feels a sort of knowing about certain things that can’t be explained—an intuition that goes beyond the normal. Then there was that one summer four years ago, when she connected with a long-departed spirit . . . But nothing that incredible has happened to Marcie since.
This summer, Marcie is spending time working at Angel Mounds, the archeological dig her mother heads, along with her brother, Eric, and his girlfriend, Renee. The dig is the site of an ancient indigenous civilization, and things immediately shift into the paranormal when Marcie and her teammates meet Lorraine and Zeke. The two mysterious dig assistants reveal their abilities to access the Universal Energy Field with their minds— something Marcie knows only vaguely that her brother has also had experience with. Marcie learns how our planet will disintegrate if action is not taken, and she and her team must decide if they are brave enough to help Lorraine and Zeke in their plan to save Mother Earth, her resources, and her history.
It looks like the summer just got a lot more interesting.
In this follow up to The Field, Tracy Richardson offers a continuation that can be read as if it was a standalone novel; however, this reviewer would recommend reading The Field first. Catalyst begins with important establishing scenes that require the reader to be placed right into the action, which I’m not sure I would have appreciated if I hadn’t already read The Field. Doing so allowed me to prepare myself for anything; I was already grounded in the world and familiar with the characters, so the abruptness of the action was not as shocking as I think it would have been had I not read the first book in the series.
My preferences and advice aside, Catalyst is a great example of a young adult story that presents an exciting tale and like a lot of (if not all) science fiction, addresses real-world issues, complexities included. More specifically, energy and fracking play different but related parts in Catalyst, and the characters act as a bridge between the two. It is always exciting to see how an author uses fictional elements and ideas to emphasize the importance of topics people have a chance to effect in the world outside the pages of books, and this book is no exception.
With short, concise sentences, Tracy Richardson leads her readers along into the depths of the plot; the pacing is steady and consistent, moving the action at a realistic yet quick pace. There are some moments, though, that I wish had been stretched out a bit more – like certain intimate conversations between characters and Lorraine and Zeke’s teachings – in order to put more emphasis and weight on those important scenes. In these cases, the consistent pace was a bit of a drawback; since many of the crucial, knowledge-building scenes were written in a similar tone and with a similar pace as the more “every day” scenes, the story line fell a bit flat in some chapters.
Despite this, the characters face conflict that keeps anticipation high, as well as challenges and questions that will resonate with many readers. How can we overcome our own insecurities about affecting problems on a grand scale? How much of our own destiny do we control? Or is everything in the hands of fate? What are the risks of speaking up compared to those of not speaking up? Marcie considers all of these questions and scenarios as she learns from her parents, her new mentors, and works through figuring out where she fits into her surroundings in Indiana and where she fits into the bigger, worldly picture. When presented with new information and hard-to-believe realities, Marcie is believably overwhelmed and struggles to come to terms with certain facts. In other words, Tracy Richardson did an excellent job showing Marcie’s insecurities as well as her strengths in friendship, kindness, and sticking up for what she believes in, even when doubt and loud naysayers rear their heads.
“Maybe this is what I’ve been waiting for: a mission and a purpose, connecting with the collective consciousness. I feel a little like I’m stepping off a cliff into the unknown, but if I don’t move forward, I know I’ll regret it.”
ABOut tHE AUTHOR:
Tracy Richardson wasn’t always a writer, but she was always a reader. Her favorite book growing up was A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In a weird way that book has even shaped her life through odd synchronicities. She has a degree in biology like Mrs. Murry, and, without realizing it, she named her children Alex and Katie after Meg’s parents.
Tracy uses her science background in her writing through her emphasis on environmental issues, metaphysics, and science fiction. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her doing any number of creative activities — painting furniture, knitting sweaters, or cooking something. She lives in Indianapolis, and, in case you’re wondering, yes, she’s been to the Indianapolis 500.
Catalyst will be published on June 2nd, 2020 (Brown Books Publishing Group). You can purchase the book here or here. If you would like to hear more about the book that came before Catalyst, you can read my review for The Field here.