Roberta Writes – Book review: The Catalyst by Joy Lennick #readingcommunity #bookreview

What Amazon says

When a terrorist blows up an Inner Circle line train between Liverpool Street and Aldgate at around 8.50 am on 7th July 2005, it leaves seven people dead and many others injured, some badly. In the horrific explosion one of those injured is journalist Ian Grosvenor. Also trapped and wounded is a young mother and artist, Serena Mason. Among the ‘walking wounded’, Ian becomes a reluctant hero by helping other passengers and carries Serena from the train, before collapsing.

Ian and Serena slowly recover from the worst of their injuries, both physical and mental, but are haunted by the memory of each other and what they suffered on that dreadful day. The desire to trace and discover how each fared grows stronger with time, until it becomes almost an obsession.

In all, three trains and a bus were blown up, killing and injuring young and old alike. It was ‘an act of indiscriminate terror’ affecting Britons and non-Britons, Christians, Muslims, and those of other or no religion.

This story covers more than the young couple’s aftermath traumas and recovery; it reveals a dark family secret, and highlights the importance of the love and support of families and friends in times of need. It also illuminates the ever present ‘ifs’, ‘buts’ and ‘coincidences’ which weave in and out of all our lives, and the wonderful power of humour.

Will Ian and Serena ever find each other? And if they do, will they find happiness?

My review

The idea of terrorism on a plane, train, or any other enclosed space is frightening to me. Passengers are trapped and cannot escape the blast and debris. Ian Grosvenor, a journalist, and Serena Mason, an artist with a young son, are victims of such an attack on the Inner Circle line train. The event leaves both of them seriously injured, with even greater post traumatic stress disorder. Ian saves Serena’s life by pulling a seat off her and carrying her to safety.

Both Ian and Serena struggle to put the events of that day out of their minds and both cling to the idea of the other person, Ian wondering how the auburn haired woman he saved is faring, and Serena wondering about her gentle spoken savior. Ian’s attempts to trace the unnamed woman fail and he gets on with life as best he can. With the support of his strong minded sister, Sally, Ian gets a good job working for a men’s magazine and meets good-time-guy Scott, the photographer. Scott encourages Ian to travel and have a good time, but Ian is not able to completely escape his traumatic memories.

I enjoyed the character of Ian very much. He was a kind and considerate person, and did his duty by helping other passengers and saving Serena despite his own injuries and trauma. Ian’s bad experience with a selfish and grasping ex-wife left me rooting for a good outcome for him with his new relationship. I enjoyed the details of Ian and Scott’s work trip to Spain and their meetings with the various interviewees. I learned a bit about Spain in the process.

Serena also has an unfortunate past when it comes to relationships and is divorced from her son’s father. The accident leaves Serena’s face badly scarred and the subsequent plastic surgery has left her with some scars and badly damaged confidence in her appearance. Although it takes her longer, Serena does manage to pull her life back together and get a good job illustrating children’s books. Serena is supported by her father and three good female friends. The descriptions of the impact of the facial scaring combined with the trauma of the incident is well described in the book and very relatable. Serena’s difficulties with her teenage son also put you on her side as she struggles, unsupported by her selfish ex-husband, to keep him on the right track with regards to schooling and behaviour.

This book is an interesting look at the psychological impact of a random terrorist event on the survivors and I enjoyed it very much. There are a few minor editing issues with the book, but they did not bother me or detract from the story.

Purchase The Catalyst by Joy Lennick

Amazon US

Joy Lennick Amazon author page

Amazon UK

39 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – Book review: The Catalyst by Joy Lennick #readingcommunity #bookreview

  1. I love your thoughts on this book and how you focused on the psychological aspect of being trapped in a horrific situation with strangers. Sounds like a gripping story. Thank you for sharing, and congrats to Joy!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not sure I could read this one, Robbie. Even after all these years the horror of that day is a memory I wish I didn’t have. I worked very near to Edgware Road tube station, where one of the bombs went off, and close to St Mary’s hospital. The transport network was closed down and the day was eerily quiet, the silence broken only by the sound of police and ambulance sirens.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. They were both terrible events. 9/11 changed the world forever. Ours was smaller scale but just as shocking for those of us caught up in it. The country was in a state of joy, having been awarded the 2012 Olympics the day before, and then this happened.


          1. Hi Robbie. Yes, it was for us. In less than 24 hours we went from euphoria to horror. The correspondence of the timing, which has been suggested by some to have been deliberate on the part of the bombers, really brought it home to us.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. It must be very difficult to write such a book and more than that, challenging to read it. Only an author like you who writes such harrowing stories could read and enjoy it. I admire your grit Robbie. Your review is interesting and reveals the most relevant element of the book. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Robbie, an excellent review of what sounds like a gripping book by Joy Lennick! Her book’s premise reminds me a bit of Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” in terms of how a terrorist attack affects survivors.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent review of a compelling story, This would not be an easy book to write and more than that, challenging to read it. Only an author like you who writes such harrowing stories could read and enjoy it. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mae, I’m glad you enjoyed this review. A number of readers have said they would find this type of book difficult to read. I think real life situations are often very frightening. I read a lot of war books and it doesn’t really get worse than than from a frightening point of view (in my opinion).

      Liked by 1 person

  6. First and foremost, huge thanks to you, Robbie for your kind review of my book. Although harrowing to write, at times, as I too travelled a similar route to the City and West End of London for several years, the terrible attack had a big impact on me. Good luck with all your various writing and cooking endeavors. Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s