Thursday, October 18, 2012

{Review} Katya's World by Jonathan L. Howard


Katya Kuriakova #1
by Jonathan L. Howard
Publication Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Strange Chemistry (Angry Robot)
Pages/Format: 339; Paperback, Ebook
Source: 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.
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Powell's

The unique flavor of Katya’s World is one to savor and crave until Jonathan L. Howard hits us with another burst of Katya Kuriakova. The young submarine navigator prodigy has a fresh voice and story that all readers will appreciate. Katya, fifteen almost sixteen years old, embarks on her first job as navigator aboard her Uncle Lukyan’s submarine, Pushkin’s Baby. The simple trip to Lemuria turns into a big production when a Federal Maritime Authority, or FMA, soldier commandeers the ship with a prisoner to be taken to the Deeps. The journey from here introduces Katya to the realities of the war between her people, called the Russalkins, and the Terrans, the people from Earth who funded the colonization of Russalka.

Howard does an excellent job building the story right from the beginning. The prologue lays the foundation for Katya’s story with detail, but not too much to make you drool with boredom or feel exasperated that it’s taking so long to be introduced to Katya. Learning the basics of Russalkin history so openly is one thing, but the actual history itself is brilliant. How it all comes together and the role the details behind Russalkin and Terran animosity plays throughout the rest of the story is just one of the many reasons why Howard is surely to become an author to watch within the circle of young adult science fiction writers. It’s very evident that Katya’s World is science-fiction, but since the focus is on submarines and a few space and air crafts, it’s easier to become engrossed in the technology and jargon that supports the story.

Then, there’s Katya Kuriakova. Too young to experience death and war first hand, but so much more pragmatic in the danger of battle than even a high ranking FMA soldier. Katya’s character comes as a surprise, and her ability to come to conclusions based on observation and previous knowledge strikes a chord with me. I’m so glad she doesn’t come across as immature, even though she’s the youngest person participating in this journey, and she actually carries her weight in responsibility without prompting. She’s an exciting character to look forward to more and more novels about because she’s so focused on what’s in front of her; there’s no romantic interest to distract her from her indestructible enemy and she knows when it’s time to move forward. Katya’s mind is clear and not filled with nonsensical thoughts or ideas. Howard’s creation is one of a kind and readers will be so curious to learn more about Katya Kuriakova’s next move.

The conclusion of Katya’s World is perfect. I try not to say such a statement about the novels I read, but I was literally hanging on to every movement of the last few pages. There’s also a big difference between the Katya from the beginning of the novel, who’s excited to finally be recognized as an adult, to the Katya who’s seen below the surface of the Russalkin society. It feels as though something within Katya has finally emerged to complete who she is. Howard’s final showdown is explosive and thrilling while the aftermath is yet to emerge; leaving no doubt that this is a series to follow!
*eGalley provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

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