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Katya's World by Jonathan L. Howard
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Katya's World (edition 2012)

by Jonathan L. Howard, Cassandra Rose Clarke (Illustrator)

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7010175,945 (3.96)2
Member:zevombat
Title:Katya's World
Authors:Jonathan L. Howard
Other authors:Cassandra Rose Clarke (Illustrator)
Info:Strange Chemistry (2012), Paperback
Collections:Wishlist
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Katya's World by Jonathan L. Howard

Recently added byChickensAreBrave, private library, tenaciousreader, daigomi, leo8, Daniel.Hale, DeBruyn
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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This is the type of book that flips everything that you think you know on its' head. In fact it does it more than once. This makes for a very exciting read. You would never know it by the opening scenes. I almost gave up on the book once, but persevered, and I am oh so glad that I did. The very beginning pages are kind of slow - so in that way it is kind of like a roller coaster; going up a hill, until it gets to the top. Once it gets there, there is no looking back.

Katya is an apprentice submarine navigator on a world colonized by Earth. She is on her first voyage after getting her license with her Uncle as Captain of the submarine on a world that is almost all water. To say that the voyage turns out to be more than she bargained for is an understatement. I won't give the plot away, as the twists and turns are too fundamental to the story, and nothing is what it seems when you first begin the book, so I won't give any details and spoil the experience for future readers. Needless to say, the book kept my attention riveted from after the initial scenes, and I was completely mesmerized by worldbuilding of the author as well as his fruitful imagination in creating such incredible characters and imagery. I was literally blown away and keep thinking about the book weeks after I have finished it.

This is a definite must read for all science fiction and fantasy fans - but also people interested in political intrigue will be interested in this book as well. It is extremely well written, with excellent characterization, advanced plotting, good pacing (with the exception of the first chapter set up) and a really nice ending. Overall, you don't find books this well done that often, and no matter what genre you like, if you like warfare, submarines, political intrigue, technology, space, human drama or just a good thumping read then this book is for you. ( )
  Molecular | Feb 21, 2014 |
This review first appeared on The Book Zone(For Boys) blog

I want to sum up my feelings regarding Katya's World as succinctly as possible:

Katya's World is a great boys' own science-fiction adventure with one of the most resourceful and kick-ass female main characters since Derek Landy gave us Valkyrie Cain.

Naturally, me being me I can't just leave it at that - Jonathan L Howard probably spent months writing the book so the least I can do is try to do it some kind of justice by writing a lengthier review.

When I first started reading Katya's World I couldn't help but compare it with Kat Falls' Dark Life books, for no other reason than that they both share a sub-oceanic setting. At first the world created by Kat Falls in Dark Life was coming out on top, however it wasn't long before I was fully immersed in Howard's story and completely forgot about Dark Life. I also found myself much preferring Katya's World, with its pure science (fiction) roots as opposed to the 'young people living in the deeps gain super powers' plot elements of Dark Life.

Katya's World is set in a future where, due to population saturation on Earth, man has colonised a number of accessible planets outside the solar system. One such planet is the ocean world that became known as Russalka. Previous colonisations of other planets has demonstrated that success is more likely to be achieved if colonists are of the same ethnicity, and Russalka's case its initial new inhabitants are all from the same part of Russia. Since then, relationships with Earth first became strained and subsequently developed into an all out invasion of Russalka by Terran forces. As the book starts the war is a not-too-distant memory. The inhabitants of Russalka live their day-to-day lives as best they can, but constantly wondering if or when they will be attacked again.

We know all of this because the author tells us in his prologue to the story, and sadly this is the only part of the whole book that grated with me. As I was reading the prologue I was wondering when I had last seen a similar info dump at the start of a YA book, and I came up blank. As the story then progressed I found myself spotting parts of the story where the back history of Russalka and its people could have been more cleverly inserted into the plot. This style of prologue is not the kind of thing that we would expect to read in an adult title these days, so it comes across as a little patronising to young people when an author feels it necessary to include one for them. I would love to hear Mr Howard's reasoning for its inclusion.

The story follows the Katya of the book's title. Katya Kuriakova is a fifteen year old who has just finished her training as a submarine navigator, and the book opens with her embarking on her début voyage as the navigator on Pushkin's Baby, her Uncle Lukyan's mini-sub. As they are about to depart with their cargo of electronic components, an officious young officer of the Federal Maritime Authority commandeers their vessel and orders them to transport him and his prisoner, the alleged pirate Havilland Kane. So begins an adventure that sees Katya tested to her limits as she comes up against pirates, insurgents, and worst of all, a terrifying legacy of the war against the Terrans that could destroy everyone on the planet.

The two stand out elements of Katya's World in my opinion were the atmosphere that Howard creates, and his array of colourful characters. When these elements are combined they make for a truly believable science fiction story that feels very real, even though it is set on a far off planet in a distant future. The characters in particular are well developed, and even those who have little more than a small supporting role to play in the proceedings come across as much more than two dimensional creature-fodder. Katya herself makes a great heroine - she is resourceful and intelligent beyond her years, but is fragile and scared when the situation merits it. Her beliefs, both political and moral, are somewhat ingrained as the result of the loss of her father and her upbringing. As such, when she finds that her world is not as black and white as she thought, she finds these beliefs tested to their limits, as she has to decide who is good and who is bad, and whether those who live in between the two can be trusted when everything hits the fan.

Katya's World is a great read for fans of science fiction and adventure stories, and will have huge appeal to both boys and girls. The story does come to a satisfying conclusion, with no ridiculous cliffhangers, but as the start of a planned trilogy there is more than enough left unresolved to have readers clamouring for the sequel. ( )
  book_zone | Apr 1, 2013 |
I just don't understand... That is exactly how I felt about most of this novel. It started off really interesting and I was immediately hooked, but the action - and my attention- just kind of fizzled out. It attempted to build back up and there was a climax-esque finale, but by that point I didn't really care that much. I had a difficult time following the backstories and history of Russalka, the planet that this novel takes place on. I couldn't get a grasp for the rules of the world, and therefore found myself in a suspended state of confusion.

This novel take place way into the future, when planet Earth has colonized other distant planets. But after a war and years with no communication from Earth, Russalka believes that it have gained its independence. However, the threat of war looms over them, and they must be prepared for the next strike. It soon becomes evident that the threat is already there.

It sounds interesting, right? That's what I thought too. I wanted so badly to like this book, and maybe I would have if I just got it more. The planet is supposed to be completely covered in water. Like no land at all. I got this concept abstractly, as most of the novel takes place within ships, but there are also times in the novel where it seems as if they were on land, in dry air. But then there were times when they get off their ships... and where are they now? How are they breathing? What? In addition, the characters are decedents of Russian ancestry, and while I understood the need to have realistic names, I found it hard to follow who was who. Not only did they have names like Lukyan, Tasya, Petrov, Takarov, and Suhkalev, but they have nicknames and are sometimes called by their last names and sometimes called by their first names - all of which are somewhat difficult to pronounce. I had trouble remembering who was who and the role that they played.

The action starts off pretty quickly, and there is a lot of action towards the end, but the middle was kind of flat. There was a lot of planning and thinking, which is important, but definitely slow. Also, there were aspects of a character's prior life that were alluded to and all of a sudden it would become a big deal. Like some small detail led the characters from point A to point Z... The reader (and by that, I mean me... perhaps I was the only one?) misses all the steps in between. I was confused at how such a realization was made so quickly. I didn't know enough about the world to fully grasp the implication of creation things.

So all in all, it was mostly confusion that kept me from connecting with this one. ( )
  ilikethesebooks | Mar 30, 2013 |
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.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.
You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic. ( )
  alcarinqa | Feb 7, 2013 |
Intergalactic academy review - It’s the story of Katya Kuriakova, newly an adult an embarking on her very first submarine mission, but it does not start with her. Instead, Howard opens with an extended prologue about the history of Russalka, an ocean planet. It’s an undeniable infodump, but it’s also a lively one, which gets us quickly up to speed: the water planet would have never been colonized if not for its mineral wealth. But then Terrans forgot about it, only to return far later and kick up a civil war... This is a YA tale wholly lacking in romance. But it does not lack in human relationships.
  zevombat | Dec 12, 2012 |
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The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea under endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurized 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.… (more)

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