I wanted to make sure to read this prequel novel before I went to the theater to watch Rogue One. I feel that after reading this novel that it’ll make me enjoy the movie more because I’ll have a much larger understanding of the overall story but as a standalone novel, this just doesn’t work. I feel that Catalyst doesn’t stand on its own as a story without Rogue One.
Catalyst is about Galen, his wife Lyra, and their daughter Jyn. Galen is a scientist working on being able to harvest the energy from Kyber crystals to create an efficient and powerful source of energy. Orson Krennic is an engineer for the Republic, soon to be Empire, that is building a super secret battle station for Palpatine, called the Death Star. Krennic wants to turn the Death Star into a superweapon by using Galen’s research and so Krennic devises an elaborate scheme to have his old university friend help him. We also follow Has Obitt, a smuggler, as he goes from a man looking out for just himself to one of the first leaders of the rebellion.
The whole focus of the book is Krennic manipulating Galen into helping him provide his research. At this moment in the Star Wars universe, the war between The Republic and The Separatists is winding down. This is the very beginning of when The Empire is created and people still believe that first The Republic and now The Empire have their best intentions. Krennic is able to lie to Galen successfully because the government is not overtly a bad thing yet. Lyra, his wife, sees through Krennic and is the voice of reason throughout the novel.
I think that where I really enjoyed this book was learning about how the Death Star was built and taking Krennic and Galen’s relationship background into the movie. I was surprised to learn that the Kyber crystals that Galen uses in his energy research, and ends up being used to power the Death Star, are the same crystals that power Jedi’s lightsabers. This is a crystal that isn’t entirely inorganic and I found this interesting. The Death Star being created by a large alien population of hive mind insect-like aliens was really interesting too. This focus on filling in gaps within the Star Wars universe was the strength of the book. A lot of those nerdy conversations about the Death Star that you have had over the years were answered in this book.
However, in the end, not a whole lot happens in this book. A 3-minute background scene in the movie could explain everything that happens. Sure, having that extra connection to Jyn’s parents and Krennic will make the movie better, but this isn’t a must read before the movie. This isn’t a bad book, just a rather uneventful book, and I can’t recommend someone take time away from other books to read this.
2 – Plot
2 – Characters
2 – World Building
2 – Writing Style
2 – Heart & Mind Aspects