I think Anderson is an extremely talented young adult author, she does an expert job of capturing unique and realistic teen voices, as well as having an understanding of very important teen issues. However it seems that she is strongest is when her books deal with harsher issues, like rape in Speak and eating disorders in Wintergirls, as opposed to the normal quest to belong as in Twisted or the stress of applying to college which concerns Kate in Catalyst. That's because Anderson's storytelling has a natural drama to it, and when she is addressing less severe issues it often comes across as unnecessary. In order to achieve this melodrama, Anderson sometimes has her characters do things which don't feel realistic, for example having Kate only apply to one school. Not only that, but Kate lies to her father and friends about it, going so far as to have her dad write application cheques for her safety schools. Considering Kate is the kind of person who does laundry for her family since her mother passed away, lying to everyone like that didn't seem to fit her character. And although Kate certainly has a good chance of getting into MIT, I doubt even a smart student would only apply to one extremely prestigious school.
I actually found Teri to be an extremely interesting character and I was really engaged in her portion of the storyline. Teri has to deal with bullying and a not so happy home life, and she is both strong but not necessarily good, as she steals from Kate, which is an interesting conflict. I think if the book had been told from Teri's point of view instead I might have found it a lot more positive. In the end Catalyst had a lot of the same problems I found in Twisted- where the book wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly considering the stress that had been placed on certain issues throughout the novel. Overall Catalyst was an okay book, but it certainly isn't Anderson's best and I'd pass on this one unless you are a true lover of her writing and stick to Wintergirls, Speak and Chains if you aren't. **
Number of Pages: 232 pages
Published: September 2002
Source: Public Library