Release Date ~ November 6, 2012
ARC received from publisher for review
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.
- 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).
- 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.