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Monday, January 26, 2015

Review: Catalyst (Insignia #3) by S.J. Kincaid

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: October 28, 2014
Pages: 432
Source: For Review From Author
Rating: 4 Stars


Tom Raines and his friends are eager to return to the Pentagonal Spire to continue training for the elite Intrasolar Forces, but they soon discover troubling changes: strict new regulations and the revelation that the Spire is under new military control. What begins as an irritating adjustment soon reveals a dangerous shift in reality. Those now in control are aligned with corporate sponsors and their ruthless agendas. And when the military academy begins welcoming new cadets with suspicious neural processors, the first step in a plan with horrifying worldwide ramifications, Tom is desperate to stop it, even if that means keeping secrets from his closest allies.
Then a mysterious figure, the other ghost in the machine, begins fighting against the corporations, but with methods even Tom finds shocking. And when the enemy comes for Tom, how much can Tom endure in the battle to save himself? He must decide if he can still fight when the odds of success seem to be sliding from his grip.

This review is spoiler-free

In short: Catalyst by S.J. Kincaid is a fantastic finale to a very entertaining trilogy.
And so ends another much beloved series. I've been anticipating the ending to this high-action, high-stakes dystopian sci-fi for a while now - and thankfully this finale doesn't disappoint! The Insignia Trilogy follows gamer Tom Raines who, upon being recruited by the Pentagon and having a chip implanted in his head, can control fighter ships remotely in space as part of an intrasolar World War III. It's Ender's Game for a new generation and it's AWESOME.

Catalyst is the darkest book yet in this trilogy - the stakes are at their highest and the plot is at its most perilous. S.J. Kincaid takes risks and introduces twists and I have to applaud her for them as that's exactly what I want and NEED to see in a finale to a series like this. This series is also memorable to me because of the many moments of hilarity it induced while reading - and while Catalyst is the darkest and least playful of the trilogy, there was still some room for S.J. Kincaid's brilliant humour and I welcomed that.

As with Insignia and Vortex, I will say that the plot reaches almost ridiculous levels - complexity-wise and plausibility-wise - in Catalyst. The reliance on technologically-related plots sometimes goes over my head, while the political inferences are sometimes a bit on the nose. This series isn't about subtlety, it's about that entertainment factor and it definitely delivers on that. I will be sad to say goodbye to the greatest friends Tom, Vik, Wyatt, and Yuri, but I am pleased at least that Catalyst was a satisfying ending to an exciting series.

Previously, my reviews of Insignia and Vortex.

Other Reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine
Planet Print

Author Links:
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21 comments :

  1. I'm glad it ended well! There is nothing worse than investing 3 years in a series and have it go out with a whimper.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. Definitely! And I've been burned many times now...

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  2. I've heard a lot of great things about this series, Aylee, but haven't had a chance to pick it up. I did order all three books for my library since I think many kids would be interested in it. Hope to get to it soon.

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    1. Cool! If I worked in a library, I would definitely want to order them because I feel like both genders could enjoy them in equal parts.

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  3. I love complexity! I must admit that I've seen this series once or twice around, but never feeled interested in perhaps picking it up - until today that is. Good job, girl!

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    1. Heh, cool! Maybe you can get to them all now that they are all released.

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  4. I must read this series! And seeing how it ended on a high note for you is all the motivation I need to get going with these. The humor is absolutely a selling feature for me here, especially when dealing with technology and plot-complexities heh. Books that are entertaining just for the hell of it are needed from time to time :)

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    1. Awesome! And the humour is pretty great. You would not expect it from this kind of book about WWIII, so it's a nice surprise and it WORKS.

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  5. I haven't read this series, but I know many people who like it. It sounds really fun!

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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    1. Yes, it is! Lots of cool technology.

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  6. I remember being curious about the first book, but I haven't read any of these. I'm glad you loved the trilogy and thought it ended well though.

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    1. I would recommend them sometime if you ever get the chance!

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  7. Oh man this reminds me how I still haven't read book 1 even though I have it and planned to for ages eek! I love how the whole series seems to have really kept being great and made darker, too. I find that's always great for character growth and intensity overall. I mean look at how dark the Harry Potter books get! I really need to get this one off my TBR and read it, STAT (well book 1 to start! >.<)

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    1. Heh, don't worry - I can think of about a bazillion books like that on my TBR. Increasing darkness and intensity is definitely expected in all series finales, so I really appreciated seeing it with this ending.

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  8. Ender's Game for a new generation? I really DO have to start reading this series soon, especially since I love the premise given in the first book so much! WORLD WAR III... IN SPACE. You know me, I can't resist anything that sounds like an awesome sci-fi read. So I'm really happy the the final book was a great end to the trilogy, too.

    I like how the last book is the darkest one. It really shows how far both the plot and the conflict have developed, and of course makes the entire series ten times more exciting. And there's HUMOR?? *fist pump* It isn't often I see YA novels (especially non-contemporary ones) with humor in them, so these kinds of books are definitely huge gems. :D

    Too bad about the implausibility of the books, though! I like my science-fiction to have some degree of realistic-ness to them, so it always kind of bugs me if authors blow things so out of proportion that they're hard to believe. And I think I would actually enjoy how straightforward the series is. Shows that the author's got guts. xD

    Awesome review, Aylee!!

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    1. YEAH!! World War III in space and fighting remotely with computer brains!! Doesn't get cooler than that, heh. It's definitely up there as one of my most favourite sic fi reads because of the awesomeness and ingenuity.

      Right?? It really is so rare that we get humour in these kinds of reads and that is why this series is such a standout in my mind when I compare it to similar-sounding YA reads out there.

      Heh, it's true that the rather blunt political messages show that the author has guts! Thanks for the awesome comment, Megan!

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  9. Oh man, I still need to give this series a try! I'll have to keep it in mind for when I'm in a reading slump because hopefully the entertainment factor will help me get out of that situation. I'm glad the final book ended on a satisfying note :)

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    1. Ooh yeah that's a good idea! I know I would use it for that means if I could too!

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  10. Oh, I have been seeing this series around so much, but it doesn't really sound like my kind of read, so I never gave it a try. You have slightly- if not entirely- changed my mind though. The World War III concept sounds so interesting! It's really great when a series wraps up well and answers all your questions, and I'm so glad that Catalyst managed to do that. Nice review, Aylee!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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    1. Heh, cool. I'm really not sure that this would be the book series for you... very complex technologies and plots and next to no romance. Still, if ever you get the chance to try it out from the library, then I would say go ahead!

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