THIS WAS AN INCREDIBLE SURPRISE. I cover judged, okay?! I’m ashamed of it now, but I did. The weird eyeball made me think of Sauron’s non-bloodshot eyeball. And the vague blurb made me squint shiftily. But I actually freaking loved it! Yes, I had to put my analysing brain on mute a few times because the plot logic left a little to be desired, but the characters?! THEY WERE ADORABLE LITTLE DEVILS WHOM I SHOULD LIKE TO HUG. Although they’d probably shoot my face off, so, um, maybe I’ll stand far away and toss them small warm donuts? Yes? Okay.
Anyway. See the similarities? Yes.
I’m sure Sauron had blue eyes on his good days. But clearly the stress of running Morder got to him. BUT I DIGRESS.
SO! It’s actually an ANGEL BOOK! Who’d of thought from the blurb right!? Noooot me. It’s not a traditional angel book, either. It has an apocalyptic military vibe, that wholly swallowed me. Though as to “why” the angels are ruling earth, I don’t have a clue. I didn’t always understand the reasonings behind the plot. Not sure if it as just me, or if the plot was undercooked.
Between being befuddled of the politics of post-apocalyptic-London, I think basically there’s angels + magic humans + non-magic-humans + demons + hybrids. I don’t actually know what the hybrids are. (A cross between angel and demon? Maybe? Except that doesn’t work because you can catch being a hybrid. It’s like a flu that makes you get cranky every 2 months and rip people’s guts out.) Plus all the world-building came in INFO DUMPS. I loathe info dumps. My brain wants to gloss the mega-paragraphs of info and get back to the action.
But despite me going, “HUH? BUT WHY” to a lot of the world-building…I loved the characters. Like really loved them. And everything can be forgiven in the face of epic characters.
It’s (mostly) told by Rose Elmsworth, who’s 15 in this apocalyptic war-torn London. She’s adopted, and her dad is a famous agent. Seriously, this dude is awesome. He’s got an evil past, a dark secret, and he loves Rose fiercely. WELL HOLD MY BLEEDING HEART. THEY ARE ADORABLE. Seriously I can’t even name another book with a GOOD father-daughter relationship! They’re so sweet. And complete psychopaths. Both of them.
And the humour? LOVE IT. It’s subtle and dry and perfect. Actually the dialogue reminds me of Skulduggery Pleasant. It’s got the wittily dry British vibe, which makes my Australian heart glow. I understand this language. I DO.
And despite being miffed about the details and politics, I really loved the setting! Angels and demons? Military? Secret agents? Rebels to be crushed? Monsters? Tests and conscription? Yes please and thank you. PLUS THERE’S A HECK OF A LOT OF GUNS AND WAR STUFF. I love books with army aspects. It reminded me a bit of The Girl with All the Gifts, too. And Rose might be 15, but she’s seriously mature and works part time as an agent under her dad. Usually I go, “Yeah, but like THAT could happen” and snort disdainfully…but it worked here. The author’s writing was solid and her characters were winning and I basically was okay to accept that 15 year olds could be in the army.
And the author is only a teen. SO UM YEAH. If this is only her debut, I’m 100% confident that she’s set for a good writing career. Talent!
I think some of my biggest complaints are a) title and b) cover. Neither make it look like a warish angelish YA book. It looks adult, right? And, um, eyes are VERY central in the book but NOT BLUE EYES. I can’t understand why the cover is a blue eyeball! IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Plus “The Catalyst” doesn’t inspire anything in me either.
So don’t be a deluded eyeball like me! Don’t judge this book on its looks! It is WONDROUS. I had a small bucket of issues with it, but basically it was a) unique, b) surprising, c) detailed in the plot, d) army themed (!), e) magical but not overwhelmingly, f) funny, g) basically zero romance, and h) has one of the best father-daughter relationships EVER. I love reading about families. They melt my cold Vulcan heart. I recommend this one, peoples! Especially if you like angels done differently.
\\ Thank you Hachette for this deliciously wonderful review-copy! The Catalyst by Helena Coggan hit shelves in May, 2015. //
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?