Katya’s World by Jonathan L. Howard
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot (Strange Chemistry)
Release date: November 6, 2012
Series: Katya Kuriakova #1
Source: ARC sent by publisher
Reviewed by: Stéphanie
The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent. Katya Kuriakova doesn't care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career. There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world's future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet.
To tell you the truth, when I first heard of this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it because science-fiction novels tend to be a hit or miss with me. I found the premise intriguing enough to pick it up since it’s a novel set on a planet covered in water. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the movie Waterworld so personally, the premise really caught my attention. But don’t be fooled. KATYA’S WORLD is something quite different from Waterworld and I was surprised when I realized how much I enjoyed it.
Think Battlestar Galactica, but instead of ships in space, you have submarines in an ocean. The main reason the book reminded me of the sci-fi TV series is mostly because of the artificial intelligence that is set out to destroy everything human on the planet. Its sets a very somber and gripping story that I’m sure many fans of the genre will enjoy. War submarines and pirate ships are also main objects of the book that create suspense and intrigue. The whole concept of a military organization that controls the planet is another reason the novel reminds me so much of Battlestar Galactica. While I understand how a people would turn to the military during times of war, I still don’t understand how the people of this water world soon forgot the idea of democracy shortly after their departure from Earth.
Personally, I wasn’t very fond of the prologue, which simply describes the history of Russalka, the water world. It was very dry and cold and I think it would have been more interesting incorporated into the actual story instead of reading it as if from a history book. Sometimes, science-fiction tends to be difficult to understand because of the lack of description. In KATYA’S WORLD, the author gave us just enough information to follow the story and to create are own visual of the the scenes. It wasn’t overly detailed but there were a few scenes where more description could have been appreciated.
The characters, while numerous and sometimes hard to follow, are very well thought out. I love how some of the “bad guys” have redeeming qualities and I really enjoyed having to guess who was on who’s side. However, I will warn you that many of the characters are killed throughout the story, so don’t get attached to your favorite too soon. The main character is Katya is a newly license submarine navigator who, at the beginning of the novel, is making her maiden voyage as part of her uncle’s ship’s crew. Unluckily, things go wrong from the beginning as the ship is commandeered by the military. Then the crew keeps getting into more and more trouble which eventually leads to structural damage to the ship. I don’t want to reveal to much and spoil the story, so I’ll just leave it at that. Katya is very mature for her age and I think her intelligence and her quick thinking are the character traits that make her such a great heroine. I really hope we get to see more of her in the rest of the trilogy because she’s what makes this book so enjoyable.
Overall, I think this is a great beginning to a promising trilogy. KATYA’S WORLD is one of the debut books of a new YA imprint called Strange Chemistry, that features science-fiction and fantasy novels. If all the books from this imprint are as enjoyable as this one, then I can’t wait to read them all!