Review: Katya's World

Katya's World (Russalka Chronicles #1) by Jonathan L. Howard
Release Date ~ November 6, 2012
Strange Chemistry
ISBN13: 9781908844132
ARC received from publisher for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
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.

In a story reminiscent of 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jonathan L. Howard has written a YA book that is very different from the rest. From the setting to the character dynamics, Katya's World is an entertaining read.

  1. An uncommon setting:

    Katya lives in Russalka, which is an entire community under the water. Russalka is actually a colony from Earth which has settled on this planet covered in water. Katya has trained as a navigator for submarines (which is how most travel takes place on Russalka).
  2. Complex relationships:

    The most striking feature of this book was how it showcased relationships that are often ignored in YA. Katya has been raised by her uncle since she lost her parents - while an orphaned protagonist isn't uncommon in YA, it is unusual for that adoptive relationship to take such a prominent role in a story. But most intriguing was Katya's relationship with the mysterious Kane; it develops into something unexpected but this happens naturally. 

It's interesting that this is a YA book that doesn't have any romantic plot line - while I can easily enjoy a story without romance, you might want to pass on Katya's World if romance is a must for you. Personally, I thought this was a strength of the book and I found that the story was exciting enough without a love story.

In some ways, the plot wrapped up a little too neatly for my taste. For such a precarious plan, everything worked out rather conveniently. And while I thought Katya was an interesting character, she felt more like a narrator than an active participant in the story.

But the inclusion of submarines and some underwater warfare was fascinating. There's a lot of politics surrounding the events which take place in Katya's World, but the setting gave it such a fresh feel.


Hafsah - IceyBooks said...

I'm not a huge fan of neatly wrapped up endings, especially when plots and problems are so utterly complex in the beginning. But a book without romance seems to be fresh - as is that eye-catching cover and the underwater community! Great review, Brenna!

Becca Fowler (PivotBookReviews) said...

You know, I think I put this one on my TBR shelf on goodreads way back when, but I never heard much about it so I had forgotten it. I love how you talked more about the setting, because I never realized that they actually lived underwater from the synopsis! There aren't many novels that are set in that type of setting! How unique of a story is this that there isn't much of a romantic relationship?! This is kind of like my recent read, Cracked by Eliza Crewe. I honestly thought it was such a breath of fresh air. I feel like the majority of YA novels have romantic situations in them (that they don't necessarily need) in order to appeal to a bigger audience. Like you, I'm not a big fan of things wrapping up neatly, especially in a book of a series (which I think this is?) Overall, you wrote a great review, Brenna. I found your blog from you commenting on my own, and I love it and your reviews! The thoughtful comment on my review meant a lot to me, and you have gained a new follower (and hopefully a new blogging friend!) I just realized I say a lot of things in parentheses, so I'm sorry for that LOL. Hope you're having an amazing week!!!

Becca Fowler (PivotBookReviews) said...

Also, I confess that I love The Hunger Games, more than Harry Potter. Delirium also made me cry, but I adore Lauren Oliver, and I am dying for her new book, Panic!! Not much longer until it releases thank goodness! I absolutely love the Bloodlines series too! Way more than VA! I plan on reading Anna and Lola soon because I just got them. I am a little behind on that bandwagon, because I've never been a big fan of contemps, but just recently started enjoying them!!

ChristasBooks said...

I am very curious about this book - I find Strange Chemistry really puts out some unique and interesting titles and sometimes it's a nice change not to have a romance.

Born Bookish said...

I'm fascinated by the underwater world which isn't something you come across often. I don't like books with narrators though, so hearing that you weren't able to connect with Katya and she seemed like a narrator is a big downfall in my eyes. Not sure if I'll pick this one up or not.

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