Katya’s World by Jonathan L. Howard

February 7, 2013 Reviews 1

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 is a thrilling, action filled read that I enjoyed, but ultimately found lacking in character development and world building. Aside from the prologue that sets up the history and culture of Earthen expansion onto the watery planet of Russalka, the book is like a roller coaster ride that just doesn’t stop.

The action in this book is its strongest point. It’s exciting and full of twists and turns that kept me guessing. Every time I thought I had a character or plot element figured out, the author would change the game and I would be frantically trying to catch up. I think the general roles of the pirates, the FMA and the Yagizban, but the characters that embodied them were all very stereotypical and exactly what I expected, which is sort of disappointing.

I think Howard made the mistake of making his heroine too smart, too capable, and ultimately, unbelievable for a fifteen-year-old. She always had the answers, always came up with amazing plans that none of the more experienced, theoretically more capable adults, couldn’t think of. The adults were constantly in awe of Katya, which was extremely unbelievable, considering how the author stressed multiple times that life is hard in Russalka. The addition of Suhkalev, a young, bumbling FMA officer, only perpetuated the farce.

One of the other things I struggled with in this book is the world-building. There is very little said about the culture of the planet except for their vehement dislike of anything from Earth. At first I was surprised at Katya’s scathing remarks and blatant ignorance, in fact, she’s proud that she knows next to nothing about her heritage. I think Kane is right in calling her and all Russalkans out on it: despite the war fought between Earth and Russalka, it’s really stupid of them to ignore their roots and history. I was also disappointed that we never saw any Russalkan settlements, or domestic dwellings – the whole book is set on a series of submarines.

Overall, Katya’s World is an entertaining read, and I hope that the small issues I had with it are fixed in for the sequel, Katya’s War. Fans of science fiction light will enjoy it, and YA readers looking for something different are encouraged to give it a go.

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