Book Review: Katya’s World by Jonathan L. Howard

Posted November 2, 2012 by Lori in Books, Reviews / 1 Comment Tags: , , , ,

Book Review: Katya’s World by Jonathan L. HowardKatya's World by Jonathan L. Howard
Series: Russalka Chronicles #1
Published by Strange Chemistry on 2012-11-06
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 339
Source: the Publisher via NetGalley

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.

Katya’s World was one of those books that after reading it didn’t quite match up with what I thought it would be before reading it. The summary felt a bit dystopian but the book felt super sci-fi to me. It is set on a different planet that is completely covered in water. Citizens have had to create their own living spaces under water. And for years they have survived on their own, separated from Earth. Eventually, Earth attacked Russalka and a war broke out. After both sides had almost exhausted their resources, Earth retreats. Russalka thinks the war is over. But they may have just been fighting a battle and there may still be some fight left from Earth. We follow Katya as she discovers the truth about her people, Earth, their joined history, and their future. Throughout the book there are many surprises, tons of talk of technology and mechanics and submarines and satellites, and zero romance. They all add up to a fine book, but in the end it was just different than I had expected.

My Likes: I actually really liked the originality of the story. For me, at least, it was unique and that kept me on my toes and reading. If it had been at all predictable for me, I probably would have stopped reading. It was so different than what I had thought it would be from the premise that I was never completely hooked. I just wanted to know how it ended, I couldn’t give up on the characters.

I liked that there was no romance in this book. Sometimes there can be a bit of romance overload in books like these and it was a nice change to focus solely on the story and this new world full of different technologies and struggles from our own. You might want to steer clear if you like romance to be one of the driving factors in books you like, this one will not be for you.

I also enjoyed watching Katya realize that the beliefs she’d grown up with about Earth and its people may not, in fact ,match up to the reality. We all grow up being influenced by the beliefs of our parents and other adults around us. But as we grow, we learn to develop our own. Our worlds are different from our parents, our lives are our own, and we must discover what we believe in and stand up for those beliefs. Katya is just starting to understand all of this in this book and I enjoyed seeing her realize that the prejudices of her parents and uncle may not prove to be fair.

My Dislikes: This book was a bit heavy on the sci-fi for me. There was constant talk of submarines and technology and mechanical equipment, I sometimes got bored and disinterested. I understand that Katya was something of a prodigy in her world and she could figure out how most systems on a submarine worked without much help. But I don’t need to hear about it every single time she gets in a sub. Since they live underwater, that’s a lot.

I was also a bit bummed that the premise didn’t seem to match up with the book. I’m pretty sure a lot of this problem was just me and not in the way it was written. Going back over it after reading it I can see how it matches up, but it somehow gave me a different impression of the book before reading it. And it just didn’t match up. Going into the book it definitely felt like a set-up for a dystopian world. But reading it felt very science-fiction. I know the lines between those genres can be a little blurry sometimes, but my idea of the book and the reality just didn’t quite line up.

Overall Feelings: I liked this book, but in the end I just didn’t love it. I enjoyed the characters, especially Katya, the originality of the story, and the journey that Katya begins as she graduates from student toadult. She begins to think for herself and shows that she can be strong in a world that seems to be pretty dominated by men. I liked the twists and turns, that we got a little break from romance, and the appearance of pirates. But I did not like the fact that the science-fiction element was very prominent when it appeared to be more dystopian from the summary. For bigger fans of sci-fi I think it’ll be a great read, but I got a bit bogged down in all the technology talk. I did enjoy the book, but it will never be a favorite of mine. I give Katya’s World three stars.


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