Item description for Me & You Too - Catalyst: The First FULL-COLOR novel by Bob Harvey...
A recent transplant to Texas steps from charred ruins to become the reluctant hero in a place about to change forever. Experience the joy of pet cohabitation and the wonder of animal sense perception as a miraculous stray cat named You Too and his human companions battle to develop the first eco-Homestead, where no people are allowed without pets. FIC002000
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6.3" Height: 0.9" Weight: 1.3 lbs.
Release Date Oct 1, 2006
Publisher Synergy Books
ISBN 1933538384 ISBN13 9781933538389
Availability 0 units.
More About Bob Harvey
Bob Harvey is a specialist in business communications and business skills. He runs workshops and seminars for companies from different industries around the world. He lives in Tunbridge Wells.
Reviews - What do customers think about Me & You Too - Catalyst: The First FULL-COLOR novel?
A Full Color Novel for the 21st Century Sep 23, 2007
I love the visual design of Bob Harvey's Catalyst. I've long wondered why adult fiction couldn't be as beautifully designed as children's books are. Polls show that 25% of Americans hardly read at all anymore, but I find when I introduce this book to my undergraduate college students, most of whom are not traditional readers, they love it, and report that the colors help them to understand better and to keep reading. Visual design is key to the new generations of this century who grow up with computers, movies, and video, and I believe Catalyst is a great example of how books can evolve along with these young minds.
Good packaging, mediocre story Aug 9, 2007
Story: The plot here is actually fairly basic. A townhouse complex in Texas burns down, right at the beginning of the story, and the book is about solving the mystery of why the fire happened, and the plans of the residents to band together to rebuild the complex within an eco-friendly framework. A key part of this is that the noble troop of residents are all animal lovers, and a cat named "You Too" (or "Tu Tambien") is their inspiration, as You Too helped rescue one of the residents from the fire.
This relatively simple plot is used as a platform to explore and espouse different social ideas and values. Politically, the Green Party would love this book, unless they read it carefully, as many eco-friendly ideas are championed, but the characters also go fishing on a huge yacht, travel by personal planes, and speed around in old sports cars. Some traditional Native American ideas are introduced, but not given much more than an introduction. Some of the most innovative ideas involve the architectural design of the new "homestead" the fire survivors plan, fight for, and build. They have fun mixing the best aspects of many different schools and traditions, with interesting results.
Early in "Me and You Too: Catalyst," the protagonists get very excited about planning their new home, with a deliberate goal of "thinking outside the box," and I thought the book was headed for some creative world-building, like you find in Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars (Mars Trilogy) and its sequels, or in Robert Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, albeit on a smaller scale. But, after the flurry of creativity sets a nice foundation for a story, "Me and You Too: Catalyst" fades away quickly, to be replaced by the protagonists developing romantic liaisons, sometimes very unwisely, and with occasional updates on the progress of the homestead project. Without much detail of the work involved in the homestead, the initially-interesting planning seems increasingly unrealistic, and the project loses much of its meaning for the reader.
As I stated, this story has a strong emphasis on the role of animals and how they make our lives better. Pets have long played a big part in my life, including a rescued Miniature Pinscher who currently tries her best to keep our house running to her standards. I am also a big fan of books that feature anthropomorphized animal characters, with prime examples being Rannock in David Clement-Davies' Fire Bringer (Firebird), Fishmael the narrator of Jay Nussbaum's Blue Road to Atlantis, and Nighteyes the wolf in Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy, Book 1). However, in "Catalyst," You Too is revered, and did play a role in rescuing another character from the fire, but is otherwise a figurehead who is worshipped, a la ancient Egypt, for just being a cat. The worshipping becomes pretty meaningless, when there is no basis for it.
The presentation aspect: "Me and You Too: Catalyst" is described as "The first FULL-COLOR novel" and it is made differently from other books I have seen. None of the pages are standard white paper, but are instead very glossy, and have a background image, that changes with each short chapter. Examples of the images used as background are: raindrops on a window pane, morning sunlight slanting in (with the "4" of Chapter Four casting a shadow), and a computer circuit-board. But, that's not all. Many key words are printed in different colors and/or with different traits. Examples are: "fire" is in red, "frozen" is blue, "arched" is written as an arch, and "shattered" has cracks in the letters. The author has trademarked this and calls it "KaleidoScript". The author also gets carried away with this feature, like a little kid with a new toy. When one of the protagonists describes the greenbelt around his townhouse, he provides a long list of songbirds and wildflowers to be found there, with each bird or flower printed in a color-coded way, to match the bird or flower. I initially liked "KaleidoScript," but realized quickly that it was overdone, very distracting, and greatly slowed my reading pace. If it were used here and there, it would be fine, but it was not unusual to find thirty words on a page that were non-standard, and the above-mentioned listing of birds and flowers took up half a page. The color backgrounds were good, but the "KaleidoScript" ended up being a definite negative for me. It makes the novel into a novelty, but severely damages the reading experience, or it did for me.
Conclusion: So, what do we end up with? A fairly simple story with a lot of promise, but very erratic and generally weak follow-through. This book is like a child's Christmas gift, with a mediocre toy (the story) in a very nice box (all the creative ideas mentioned) and wrapped in colorful, albeit garish wrapping paper (the "KaleidoScript" font).
Me & You Too - Catalyst Jul 18, 2007
Usually, my reviews focus on the premise of the book and what I thought about the story. However, Catalyst is unlike any other book I've come across.
A great deal of effort has gone into the look and feel of Catalyst. Instead of the regular white pages normally seen, this book has magazine-like pages. These full colour sheets contain a different background for each page. Each chapter follows a particular background theme. Most of the text is either black or white depending upon the background colour. However, portions of the text have differential font types, sizes, or colour for emphasis. Sometimes, whole bit of the story fall off the line or have an alignment that varies from the rest of the words on that page.
These aspects create a really unique feel. This lends to a sort of artsy attitude with a big doze of creative imagination. I believe that this atmosphere does indeed add to the ambience of the actual storyline which is fantastical in nature.
Unfortunately, I felt that I didn't get to experience the whole story completely because of the dramatic look of the pages. I found I could only read about 20 pages at a time because of severe eye strain caused by the backgrounds and differing fonts. Therefore, I could never really get into the story, like it deserved.
Will get the reader looking at their pet in a different light Apr 20, 2007
Set among the mega-population growth of present-day Texas, this novel is about a group of ordinary people who are thrown together under extraordinary circumstances when their townhouse complex is severely damaged in a fire.
Javier is an ex-boxer who now works in construction, and his wife, Caressa, is recovering from a stroke. Dakota is a lady professor of archaeology, and Justin is a recent transplant from Philadelphia. He seems to have been accepted by a unique cat that Justin named You Too. The cat is already famous, leading rescuers to Geri, a deaf former Army nurse, the night of the fire. He also senses Caressa's physical infirmities, because You Too thinks nothing of jumping on her lap, working himself under her damaged hand, and repeatedly moving it, like she was in physical therapy.
The group comes up with a plan to buy the land on which their townhouses sat, and build an eco-friendly co-housing complex. As much as possible, it would be made of recycled materials, and include a Native American longhouse. One of the major requirements for new tenants is not that pets are accepted, or even welcomed, but that pets are required to move in. Their opponent, construction tycoon Baron Barkley, and his adult son, Kyle Ray, are not about to give up without a fight.
Justin and company suffer a series of "mishaps" that threaten to destroy their good works. Dakota receives an envelope of adult photos of her, taken secretly by Kyle Ray, photos that are guaranteed to be misinterpreted. She decides that a one-year sabbatical in China is suddenly a good idea. Javier is jailed on a trumped-up assault charge. He beat up a couple of kids that broke into the construction site with vandalism in mind. More than once, Justin follows Kyle Ray, intending to do him great bodily harm.
The other notable thing about the book is the book itself. Printed on thick glossy paper, each chapter has a different colored background or photo. On each page, various words are printed in a different font or color. To slow a slide in reading among the young, the intention is to make this book more like a graphic novel. That is a very worthy objective, but for the rest of us, this is either a bold move in the publishing field or an unnecessary distraction.
This story about the power of animals takes a while to get going, but once it does, it's pretty good. It will get the reader looking at their pet dog or cat in a whole new light.
Truly a gift from start to finish Dec 12, 2006
From the time I was a child, reading was one of my favorite pastimes. In this generation of computers, when much of what we read is "on screen", I've come to appreciate, more than ever, the pleasure of holding a good book in my hands. And Catalyst is truly a joy to be'hold'. As an animal lover, the concept of the Homestead is inspiring - throughout the story, I found myself thinking "if only" and wondering, "could this really be?" As a book lover, the pages are rich to the touch as well as the eye and each page can be enjoyed as a piece of art. I must admit it took me an extraordinarily long time to read the book - I felt compelled to stop and appreciate every bit of the kaleidoscope print as well as admire each beautiful page and its relationship to the narrative. By the time I was done, not only had the story become a part of me, but the pages on which it was written had, as well. The entire concept of Catalyst deserves, at the very least, a tetralogy, though I doubt Bob Harvey's fans will be satisfied with that!