Hi guys! Today I am doing two mini-reviews of two dystopian books I have recently read: The Government by Peter Gulgowski and Catalyst by Kristin Smith. Since I am very backed up on reviews, you’ll see me combine many of them into single posts which would either include two mini-reviews or two full reviews, depending upon how much I want to talk about the two books. So, I hope you enjoy this Double Dystopian Review Post!
*THERE WILL BE SPOILERS, SO PLEASE BE WARNED!*
About The Government
Fifty years ago, the government was taken over by a new world power called The Second Founding Fathers. In that time, they also began the extermination of the undesirables.
Now, in the present, a country led by Gloria Chambers allows for only the desirables to live. The others are sent to massive extermination camps where they are disposed of to cleanse society.
Aria, Ethan, and Zeke are three teenagers who are being held in a detention zone located in modern-day Chicago. When it is learned that they are next for extermination, they enlist the help of a government soldier who offers to help them escape.
But they won’t be alone. A lone survivor group who has fought for the survival of the undesirables, the Resistance, is out there hiding. It’s up to them to find it.
The stakes for restoring order and justice to the country could not be higher. Can the three join forces with the Resistance and stop Gloria Chambers and her rule once and for all, or is it already too late?
Debut author Peter Gulgowski bursts onto the literary scene with a breakneck dystopian thriller, filled with breathtaking moments, betrayals, stunning revelations, and an unforgettable villain who will haunt you long after the last page. For fans of the Divergent and Hunger Games series, ‘The Government’ will be a new favorite.
Disclaimer: I received a free signed copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my thoughts or feelings in any way.
For me, this book started off very strongly. It was haunting, and it chilled me to my bones when I thought about the world the author created. His post-apocalyptic United States and how the government gets rid of “undesirables” will keep you up at night. The beginning was very strong, and I was hooked from the first few pages. I loved the world-building so much; it was the book’s strongest characteristic. Plus, I felt so connected with the characters that whenever something bad happened to one of them, it broke my heart.
From the middle, I started to lose my interest in the book, and some of the events seemed a bit too stretched and coincidental. Some of the events lined up so perfectly that it felt too good to be true. I know that these things happen but everything felt too “perfect” for the characters on their quest for the Resistance. Then the plot started to take a turn in what I like to call the “Dystopian Structure” that is commonplace in most YA dystopian books nowadays. With the rise of The Hunger Games and Divergent, you see a lot of similarities from those books with ones that are popping up right now.
If I thought about the book before I read it, I could have predicted that it would go “1) MC realizes government is corrupt, 2) MC meets someone in the resistance, 3) MC joins resistance and/or escapes, 4) Resistance is bombed, infiltrated, etc. and/or someone close to the MC is killed/captured, 5) MC is captured by government leaders or MC infiltrates government headquarters, 6) MC saves the day when odds are against him/her, 7) Possible cliffhanger.”
Really, most dystopian books nowadays follow that formula. That happened in Configured and it also happened in Catalyst. Now is it inevitable? Possibly. But I want to read a book that masks it. Like Shaila Patel said in her guest post on the blog, we need to mask these tropes to present them to the reader as if they’re new. Contemporary books with romance always end in some sort of fight at the end (yes, there has to be some sort of climax), but what makes such book stick out is that it makes me surprised that it happened, that it was not going to come. Books such as Caraval feel super original and different from others that are available. With dystopian books such as The Government, I see this formula too prominent, and it scares me now. The Government had so much promise for me, but it just didn’t wow me like The Continuum Trilogy did. If you want to read a nice dystopian novel, The Government would be for you! It just did not click with me the way I wanted it to, but hopefully when you read it you will love it.
*Another spoiler here*
Another note was that I had a copy where the synopsis wasn’t updated, in which it did not mention anything about Ethen or Zeke, which kind of gave away what would happen to them later on through the book. That also did affect my view on the story since I knew that only Aria would live.
Too pretty. Too smart. Too perfect.
In a crumbling, futuristic Las Vegas where the wealthy choose the characteristics of their children like ordering off a drive-thru menu, seventeen-year-old Sienna Preston doesn’t fit in. As a normal girl surrounded by genetically modified teenagers, all of her imperfections are on display. But after the death of her father, everything she’s ever known and loved changes in an instant.
With little skills to help provide for her family, Sienna clings to the two things that come easily—lying and stealing. But not all thief-for-hire assignments go as planned. When a covert exchange of a stolen computer chip is intercepted, she becomes entangled with a corrupt government official who uses her thieving past as leverage, her mother as collateral, and the genetically modified poster boy she’s falling for as bait.
In order to rescue her mother, there may only be one option—joining forces with the Fringe, an extremist group, and their young leader who’s too hot to be bad. Problem is, these revolutionaries aren’t what they seem, and the secrets they’re hiding could be more dangerous than Sienna is prepared for. In the end, she must be willing to risk everything to save the one thing that matters most.
Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This will not affect my thoughts or feelings in any way.
I had a ton of high expectations for this book, but unfortunately, it did not live up to them for me. I wasn’t very connected with the story, and I was more focused with trying to finish it than actually enjoying the story. It also followed the infamous “Dystopian Structure” (see my review of The Government by Peter Gulgowski) really well. If I compared the plot of this book with other dystopian novels I have read in the pst, they are super similar to each other. Catalyst does not have the originality and the masking of the tropes that I am looking for in a book.
The pacing also felt really fast, which made it a bit underdeveloped. I encountered a few speed bumps and plot holes that made me confused and had to stop and figure out what was going on. If the story was a tad slower, the relationships between the characters and the events in the story would have been more rounded out and felt more complete. Some of Sienna’s decisions were too out of the blue for me; I thought there should have been at least more evident motivation or a good reason to do that action.
*Warning there are some spoilers in this paragraph*
The love triangle also didn’t work for me. Love triangles for me is the big make it or break it trope for me, and sadly it wasn’t executed that great. I wasn’t rooting for either guy because the individual connections between each of them and Sienna felt too stretched. (If you know me, I prefer slow burn romances than insta-love.) The love triangle just did not feel right. She also kissed two guys in the same day… That’s a bit too much. What got me was how she didn’t have the “choice” between the two guys at the end. Something bad happened to one of them and he ended up losing his memory, so Sienna decided to be angry and give up on him (which I didn’t see a reason for).
I personally will not be continuing the series since it’s not one that I’ll be looking more forward to. This story was not for me. I think it was too underdeveloped and it did not execute the love triangle as well as it could have. But hopefully this book is for you! Remember, just because I do not like a book doesn’t mean you won’t like it. Maybe you might like this book better than me.
Have you read these two books? What is your take on dystopian novels?
Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!