Review: The Catalyst by Chris Reher


I’m….not too sure where to start. I guess I should start it with a simple Q and A with myself.

Q: Did I like this book?

No…well…yes…some parts of it. I really dug the action sequence but the plot was a bit bland and predictable.

Q: So you hate this book?

No! I never said I hated it! I actually read it all the way through! It took me forever to get through it because I kept questioning so much about it. Some parts dragged on, some parts were so fast paced that I wasn’t sure what the heck was going on. Yet I still kept going back to the story. I finished it awhile ago but I’m still thinking about it.

Q: So, what’s your problem?

I never said I have a problem.

Q: First step is denial. Don’t walk away from this ::Mental door slam::

I really wanted to love this story. Many people have put up reviews on how much the writing was so well done and the story was fun but I didn’t see it. Voracious readers will feel my pain here: you read the story that everyone loves but your not feeling it.  Nothing wrong with that, even if you drive yourself mentally crazy trying to figure out if something was wrong with you.

Let’s start on neutral grounds here. “The Catalyst” is a space opera involving different parties vying for access to a planet that produce s a very valuable by-product, Ash (Smells like Dune doesn’t it?). Caught in the political hell fire is a military pilot named Nova Whiteside. After a ship that she was in charge of protecting gets ambushed by pirates, she’s  shanked by a squid-like alien that transfers a catalyst agent into her system. Later she finds that the catalyst she carries inactivates Ash. Ash is a deadly respiratory agent but is valuable to certain alien species. With the catalyst, it’s render it useless.

Thanks to her ex-boyfriend, Sethran- a rebel/pirate/bad ass, she is whisked away from danger only to figure out pretty quickly how f**d up her situation is. To break it down there are two situations going:

1. She has the catalyst that can make a valuable product useless. This can be used as a weapon or a blessing.

2. There  is an unprotected planet containing a valuable product.

And this folks, is what spurs on the plot.  As a space opera, Nova and Seth are the romantic couple caught in all the political shenanigans. Nova now carries a catalyst that will render that Ash useless. Many parties want that catalyst from her. Those that control the catalyst controls the power of the Ash (My nose is tickling from all that Dune smell)

A space opera is romance set in outer space, with the conflict being politics. The novel completed those requirements.The characters in the story filled out their roles. There is the romantic couple.The shady, political evil guy. The unfortunate victims caught in the crossfire. An awesome sidekick (who I wished came into play sooner. He was waaaay more fun). Overall, I felt that I got a bunch of characters reading their parts. Sometimes well, most of the time overly dramatic. Anyone ever watched “Dungeons and Dragons”? Kinda like that. (Pst, I love watching “Dungeons and Dragons”)

As for the romance, the pulp of what a makes a story fun (in my humble opinion), there wasn’t really any. A blip. One tussle in the cockpit. That only further marred Nova’s character for me. I didn’t get a sense of love or attraction between the two. Nova had a grudge, Seth was off having an adventure. Then they meet and the fire is reignited I guess? If there was a fire? I would have loved more insight on what was the attraction.  Was Seth the sexy bad boy that all the girls wanted? Why did Nova choose him? All I got was that they went to school together and he was her first.

The main draw that had me hooked to the story was the action. How Nova escaped by the assassin in the hospital was BAD ASS. How they ran from the creatures on the prison planet (which I really dug. I kept imagining ridiculous looking pit bulls) was BAD ASS.

So why in the love of cookies does a bad ass person like Nova become an absolute wet blanket when Seth comes rolling around? Why pout and cross your arms when you bring up the past? Maybe I’m being one dimensional here but it doesn’t mesh well with how Nova is being pictured. When I read the blurb about the book, my mind automatically went to Farscape casting Nova as Aeryn in my mind.

I know I’ve gone on quite a bit on this but I’m frustrated that I didn’t come away with loving this story. It’s happened many times and it will happen again.  I connect well with characters that I would want on my team defending me from all the evil-doers in the world then lolling around a campfire afterwards. And being a woman, I place alot of faith on the woman characters.


If your looking for an action story, then reach for the book.

Length: novel

Primary Book Format: e-format

Publisher/Imprint: self published

Blush Quotient: pale with a hint of pink

Smart Girls Rating: 2 star