In the final book of this explosive Philip K. Dick Award-nominated space opera, the universe is under threat and an ancient alien intelligence threatens to bring humanity down – unless Major Sanda Greeve and her crew can stop it . . .
The code has been cracked. The secrets of the Casimir gates have been revealed. But humanity still isn’t safe. The alien intelligence known as Rainier and her clones are still out there, hell-bent on its destruction. And only Sanda can stop them.
With the universe’s most powerful ship under her command and some of the most skilled hackers, fighters and spies on her team, it will still take everything she has to find the key to taking down an immortal enemy with seemingly limitless bodies, resources and power.
Catalyst Gate is the third and final installment in Megan E. O’Keefe’s The Protectorate series. This is a highly-anticipated release for many, and that is especially true for fans of the space opera trilogy who are looking for the story to end with a bang. If you read no more of this review, know this: to say it went out with a bang would be an understatement.
I try to be particularly discerning with final books of series that I have loved; meaning, I actively look for cause not to give it them a perfect rating. My reasoning for this is that it is the best way to keep myself objective; having already enjoyed the rest of the series, it is human nature to want the finale to be good. So, in order to keep my review balanced, I read with an intent to find something about which I can be critical. In that way, I know I am keeping myself honest. But, honestly, I have nothing to complain about with this one.
The opposite is true; in fact, I have so much to gush about, which I will try to do without revealing too much about the story. I have two objectives for this review: tell you have fabulous the book is and not spoil anything of substance, one of those goals being easier than the other. In any case, that is exactly what I plan to do.
‘My name is Bero. I do not agree with your sentiments.’
What is good about Catalyst Gate is the consistency. The characters that have been here from the beginning persist in their phenomenal roles. Bero. Sanda. Tomas. Biran. Rainier. Okonkwo. Jules. Nox. The list goes on and on, with the point being that the character set has not changed all that much, and I love that. In the course of three books and 1,500+ pages every single one has grown into their role and had their place in the story (and my heart )affirmed. Secrets have been revealed and pasts explored, but every one of them basically stays true to their own. I love that because it has allowed me to grow fonder of each one by the page. I have definitely become invested in all of their fates at this point.
‘Hah,’ Nox said. ‘Got the fuckers, did you, B?’
‘I continue to be the most effective weapon in the known universe.’
Another good thing is the constant action. Pack some extra O2 in your suit because O’Keefe throws you out of an airlock does not allow you to come in for air. But, again, no surprise there as that has been a staple of this series from the very first page of Velocity Weapon. That is what makes it impossible to put down (I broke my self-imposed page restriction every day) is the fact that the story never stops, never even slows, is always accelerating at a breakneck pace. Thrusters at full blast, ready to jump at a moment’s notice. The unceasing need to know what happens next is a huge driver of the story, and it makes for a book that is undeniable.
‘Play nice, now, and we will break a few bones later.’
‘Delayed satisfaction. I can work with that.’
But what makes Catalyst Gate great is the complexity. I thought the first two books had layers (you can read my review of Chaos Vector – book 2 in the series – here), but they were nothing compared to this, the final book in the set. It’s a wormhole, wrapped in a warp gate, inside a supernova. There are so many threads to follow, all intertwined in one big space-timey mesh that it becomes almost impossible to tell where one begins and the next one ends. And that might be my favorite thing about the book (and the series, overall): O’Keefe’s relentless, unforgiving labyrinthian storylines. The author does not go easy on readers, and I am so happy to see it. There is so much to be fleshed out in this story, and O’Keefe accomplishes that in her own way: unapologetically. So, be on your toes, because it gets DEEP quick around these parts. Bring your own shovel and flashlight.
We have established the good and the great of the thing, but I am not stopping there. What makes Catalyst Gate (and The Protectorate Series as a whole) phenomenal is how incredibly well it all comes together. There are so many moving parts and plot twists that at times it was not easy to see a situation where the disparate pieces are connected, and, yet, O’Keefe puts a bow on things in seemingly effortless fashion. By “things” I mean every aspect of the story: the characters and their complicated relationships, past and present behavior and decisions, technology old and new, action and inaction of governing bodies, etc. The list goes on and on, and there are too many “aha!” and “oh yeah!” moments to count.
In the end, Catalyst Gate is one of those books that I was so happy to read but so sad to finish. The Protectorate Series has kept me on edge from the first to the last, and that is the biggest compliment I can give. This book gets my highest recommendation.