Publication Date: August 31, 2012
In Catalyst – Book 1 of the Ronos Trilogy by Tyler Rudd Hall, Mac Narrad is home on leave from the military when the city of Northgate is destroyed and his family murdered. At first blush, it seems that the attack was of alien origin, but Mac soon learns that there’s more to the war and this attack than meets the eye. Teaming up with a few choice allies, Mac must get the word to the people that the war is a hoax before the evil forces destroy all those who might care to fight back.
I have always been the person at the back of the University English class who instead of looking for symbolism in stories raised their hand and said, “Maybe the author was just bored that day?” In the case of Catalyst – Book 1 of the Ronos Trilogy, I kept seeing social commentary where perhaps there wasn’t any. Citizens opted to have multi-media devices inserted in their brains known as “Imps” that could control their very view of reality. Was this a comment on social media and the way it shapes our outlook? A group of people opted to stand apart and not have those machines implanted and within the story, they’re known as “Luddites.” Any student of history will remember the nineteenth-century textile makers who were against machinery brought to their industry by the Industrial Age. They felt that machines would allow non-skilled workers to do what they did at a lower wage. In the storyline, Mac is essentially looking to control the motivations of the people through fear of aliens and a far-away war that may or may not have been happening.
The plot flow in Catalyst – Book 1 of the Ronos Trilogy was good. We have two storylines which came together in a very logical sense. Lynn is looking for her husband, Scott, who has been institutionalized when he attempted to expose the war as fake and refused to sell the government ammunition. Mac is at home with his family and it seems, as someone able to think for himself, he’s been kept pretty far away from the front line. When the explosion happens, survivors are being slaughtered. Lynn manages to reconnect her Imp long enough to send a video to social media which goes viral denouncing the war and showing the carnage after the explosion. Mac escapes with a fellow soldier to find his family. The two decide that they must find Lynn and see the proof she has that the war has been faked. Mac has some things to do before he goes into custody and then the two stories merge.
Some of the action in Catalyst – Book 1 of the Ronos Trilogy is a bit too easy. Mac’s initial escape and his ability to hide from the enemy, both a little too simple. But then, we’re led to believe that these are people who rely heavily on technology. The action propels the story in a way that makes sense but more than once I thought, “I’d like more of a challenge on that.” I suppose that doing so could make a novel last for years and it’s up to authors to make those hard choices, but as a reader, it would have been nice to have that choice made once or twice. Another challenge is that there’s a lot of telling instead of showing. For example:
Orange put the gun away. As much as he wanted Mac to be guilty, he knew there was nothing he could do right now. (Kindle Location 431)
We don’t know this guy’s name and we’re in his head. For me as a reader, it would have been perfectly okay for Orange to have said the quoted line and maybe had more impact because he’s showing Mac how he feels.
The end of the Catalyst – Book 1 of the Ronos Trilogy is really compelling and promises quite the ride for the next novel. This story is what I would call “clean science fiction” and is suited for all ages but I’m not sure I’d give it to my 10-year-old to read as the scene in which Mac finds his family, though not terribly graphic, maybe a little mature for her. Oh yes, and the junkies of the future? They are addicted to an alternate reality through their Imps. Who doesn’t know someone who can’t go 10 minutes without Facebook? Food for thought.
Looking for the review of the second novel? Then check out Beacon – Book 2 of the Ronos Trilogy by Tyler Rudd Hall.
Read an excerpt and buy Catalyst – Book 1 of the Ronos Trilogy by Tyler Rudd Hall on