ARC Review: “Katya’s World” by Jonathan L. Howard

Katya’s World (Katya Kuriakova #1) by Jonathan L. Howard

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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.

3 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Strange Chemistry for this eARC! This book will be released November 13th!

Did you know that dystopian is technically filed under scifi? Because Jonathan Howard didn’t forget. Oh Lord he didn’t forget.

It has been ages upon ages since I read a YA book that was this much a straight scifi. The other dystopians I’ve read don’t compare by a long shot. Katya’s World is what scifi is supposed to be: pages of tech description, tons of tech usage, that kind of thing. Quite honestly, I’m not a fan most of the time because I’m just like ALRIGHT STORY NOW.

Katya’s world was, at least, fairly refreshing. I enjoyed how it tried to give itself a twist by adding an essence of Russian heritage. Honestly, though, the real emphasis was on the submarines. Kept reminding me of that submarine movie with Sean Connery. It was a very serious place; humor was not an obvious element to this book.

That’s probably because once the book got going, it didn’t stop. The beginning has about 30 seconds of normalcy before things start to spiral out of control at one heck of a sharp angle. By about halfway through the book we’ve gone from, “Man, the government has commandeered our boat” to “THE WORLD IS GOING TO BE DESTROYED.” And then it just keeps careening out of control from there. Freaking nobody in this book can catch a break, and Howard isn’t afraid to kill people.

The character of Katya was interesting to me. I always like analyzing what happens when a guy writes a girl MC versus a girl writing a girl. Katya’s character is supposed to be anti-feminine from the get go, but the amount of emotion she displays for most of the book is minimal. I mean, she displays it at the most serious times, but quite frankly she might as well have been a guy. While this was a plus for me, some people might not like the fact that Katya spends the entire book being one of two females on multiple submarines full of dudes and there’s no romance. She didn’t have time trying to freaking save the world.

My biggest issue with this book is an issue I’ve seen a lot of scifis struggle with, and that’s the balance between information and content. This book was a fast paced thing, but it never felt like it because of all the block description thrown it. Now I understand part of this is just what scifi books DO, but, for example, at the beginning: the entire first chapter is a prologue that explains the world. That’s great, whatever. But THEN in about chapter TWO, ALL that information is repeated. Redundant information description happened a lot in block chunks, that was just all together frustrating. Maybe he was trying to remind the readers, but it way cluttered up the book.

Katya’s World is the kind of book I enjoyed, but would probably hand my copy off to my brother. This book would blow him out of the water.  I appreciate the extensive world building that Howard clearly sweated over, but I think the plot suffered for it. The characters were okay, but few were fleshed out and fewer had any range of emotions. If you’re a lover of straight scifi then you’ll probably adore this one–I liked it myself without being one such person. However, it’s just not one I’d read over and over again.