Catalyst by S. J. Kincaid

January 13, 2015 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Catalyst by S. J. KincaidCatalyst (Insignia #3) by S. J. Kincaid
Published: November 6th 2014 by Hot Key Books
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
Genres: Science Fiction
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

It's time to defeat the impossible ...

Tom Raines is reeling from the shocking events of his year training to join the Intrasolar Forces, and more than ready to head back to the Pentagonal Spire. From now on he's determined to keep his head down and stay out of trouble.

But trouble is out to find him.

A horrifying plan is unravelling at the Spire - one with deadly global consequences. Tom will have to decide how hard he is willing to fight for what he believes in.

Catalyst is the final instalment of the amazing science fiction series that began with Insignia. Tom Raines faces new challenges in this book and faces them with his usual combination of bravery and brashness.

The world-building in this series has always been one of my favourite things, and this book impressed me with how much it explored the consequences of everything in it. Tom Raines is one of a small group of teenagers picked to train as Combatants in WW3. This war is waged off-Earth – unmanned spaceships and drones battle in space, piloted on Earth by teenagers that have brain implants in their heads that help them perform complex calculations and interface with machines. There are new alliances in this world, and the war-effort (and thus the world) is controlled by huge corporations that own the spaceships, drones, and Combatants that are used in combat.

Catalyst explores how dangerous it is to have the corporations in charge of everything, and how destructive the brain-implants can be in the wrong hands. Tom Raines begins the book as an Upper within the Spire, but ends it a hero who has saved the world from a terrible fate.

Tom’s character growth caught me off guard in this book. I spent most of the second book, Vortex, being exasperated and angry at his immaturity and stupidity, but Tom’s learnt a few lessons since he was fifteen and it shows in his conduct and the decisions he makes in this book. He’s always been brave, but now he takes the time to think through what he’s doing and examines the consequences. He’s also a lot less selfish and self-centred, which was great (for me anyway).

I’ve always loved the secondary cast in this series because they’re so realistic and awesome! Tom’s best friend Vik deserves a special mention for how he looks out for Tom (he didn’t do a very good job in Vortex). Wyatt’s story-line surprised me but her relationship with Yuri made me very happy! And Yuri’s still amazing 🙂

Vengerov is one of the most nuanced villains I’ve had the pleasure of reading, with a believable history and motivation. I especially loved the twist near the end! However, the award for best supporting actor must go to Blackburn! I also liked the way the romantic storyline between Tom and Yaolan turned out. It’s super sweet and cute!

Catalyst is a stunning conclusion to one of the best YA science fiction series around today. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my journey with Tom and the gang and highly recommend the series to readers who enjoy the works of Michael Grant.

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