Monday, December 26, 2016

Catalyst Moon: Incursion by Lauren L. Garcia

The first ever winner of the writing contest on Inkitt, a website that allows you to read and write fresh new stories from new authors, brings us Catalyst Moon: Incursion. As a member of Inkitt, I was granted a free copy of the story and decided to give it a shot. I've read a lot of good stories on the site and so, as the first ever book from the site to receive publication based on the site's database, I just had to give it a read. Sadly, I'm not impressed. Let me explain.

The story is of a mage named Kalinda "Kali" Halcyon, who is being escorted from one mage stronghold to another by a group of sentinels, soldiers whose job is expressly to keep the mages in line. But when their group is attacked, Kali manages to escape with a sentinel named Stonewall to make it to the stronghold in peace. Meanwhile more strange attacks take place, plots for mages to escape their captors, and emotions and things just all kind of happen at the same time.

Yeah, I can't summon a lot of energy for this one. For as long as this book is very little actually happens in it. Aside from fight scenes that take way too long and plot lines so barely explored you don't really know what the point of them is, the story is just a romantic road trip story trying to take place along side a recycled rebellion plot dripping with soap opera drama. The first problem is that there are way, way too many characters in this book. That's fine and all, but you're supposed to remember each and every one of them and what they're doing in the story and how it adds to the grand scheme. This is a problem because these characters are just not memorable! Too many names and not nearly enough details left me struggling to remember who they were, why we're supposed to care about them, what they contribute, whether they are male or female, etc.

The main character, Kali, has a wealth of potential for a character; a magic user whose hasn't seen much of the world that's been crippled since birth. But she never does anything! Her journey with her potential boyfriend is a side quest in her own story. It's the generic "girl unlike any he's seen before" who attempts to "get him to lower his defenses" (geddit? His name is Stone-Wall. He's guarded!) that we've seen over and over again. Only one time does something legitimately interesting happen to them, a fight with some possessed barbarians, but it goes on for so long even that got boring. For her to be the star of this show, her path is way too easy and much too uninteresting and I just couldn't get into it.

The only other characters I remember at all are this pair of twin sentinels that we follow for reasons that I still can't figure out. I mean it! I don't think they contributed anything to the story. They could be cut out entirely and the plot wouldn't miss them. At all. I only remember them because they made me so angry that if I was reading this on anything other than my expensive Kindle, I'd have thrown it across the room. The brother is seriously overly keen on his sister, to the point where it's almost a bit uncomfortable. Brothers don't think about their sisters nearly as much as this guy does. It's unhealthy. It's even more unhealthy when the sister is a horrible piece of human filth that deserves to die! I'm serious, this woman is just despicable! The guy she's sleeping with gets killed and she so she tells her brother, the only family she has left in the world mind you, and says she wishes that he was the one who died and wishes all manner of cruel and horrible fates upon him for having the gall to not have died. And she's all like, "Oh, gee, I'm sorr-well, not really sorry but I was hurting at the time so we're cool, right?" No! No, you're not cool! I don't care if you apologize! I don't care if you cure cancer! Saying horrible things like that is never going to make people relate to or like you! I couldn't stand her and it just left me angry for the wrong reasons.

Also when this plot isn't going at a snail's pace, it's jumping around all over, making the story hard to keep track of and making it even harder to remember already unmemorable characters! One minute we're over here with Kali, next we're with these mages trying to escape, next we're with these fifteen sentinels whose names we're all supposed to remember. The mages are so bland that I can't get behind their cause, and how are we supposed to get behind them when we're also supposed to want the sentinel's to win. That and some borrowed details were really distracting. For example, there's an offensive name for a mage in this world and that's "moon-blood". Hmm, does that sound familiar at all to you? Well, it should. Also, there's this one deity that they keep swearing on, but the swears come in the forms of "Ea's tits" and "Ea's balls". Okay, either A. this is some kind of transgender deity or B. this is just inconsistent. I'm betting on B. Lastly, this book has no climax. None. At all. It just builds and builds and...ends. They want to get to the place and they get to the place. The end. Not twist, no conclusions, no cliffhangers, no answers, no...nothing! There's nothing that makes me want to continue the story, nothing that makes me long for the next installment. It's just...done. Whatever, at least I can be done.

Final Verdict
I'm sorry but I can't see how this won any kind of contest. I was bored and then I was mad and then I was mad because I was bored. I've read some great stories on Inkitt that deserve a chance to be read and looked at! There really are some good things to be found on the site and how this is the one that got selected for publication just baffles me. There are some other books from the site that were published that I intend to check out in the future, but this one? For me, this book belongs in the Wastebin of Despair.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts.

Next time: The New Year is upon us and I've decided it's time to delve into new territory: sequels!

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