Writing a review of this book is more challenging than most reviews I’ve written.
Basically, I liked the book, but I really wanted it to be much better than it was.
Let’s start with the title: Katya’s World. this book isn’t so much about Katya’s world as it is about Katya herself. And then again…it is about the world and the part Katya plays in it. Hmmm…I see the first problem…what IS this book about…?
I’ll admit, the title is the first thing that attracted me to this book, but then, I have a niece by the name of Katja, so it’s not a big surprise that I was drawn to this.
I was also drawn to this because it is a YA novel, which I often enjoy reading, and for its SciFi/Fantasy nature…a genre that I typically enjoy. It helped, too, that the publisher was having an e-book sale which I wanted to support (so, yes, I read the ebook version).
So let’s get to the story…a girl, born on a planet that was colonized despite terrible odds and after much struggle, has just come of age to pilot a vessel (a water vessel, as most of this planet is under water). On her maiden voyage, the ship is commandeered by a government official transporting a famous war criminal. Ship attack. Destruction. Loss. Thrust in to the middle of a cold war about to errupt. Katya grows up in the heat of battle.
What works here is that Katya is a rather unique character. There is no stereotypical love interest, which is a nice change of pace for this sort of story. There is also some very nice world-building and just the right amount of history tossed in which makes it all very credible.
What doesn’t work:
It’s easy to believe that Katya is above average and a little better than most … if she weren’t we wouldn’t be reading her story … but she still comes across as being a little too good to be true. She takes fantastic leaps in logic or physical prowess that don’t seem appropriate for someone her age.
While the world-building is well done, the details on the more intimate spaces are lacking. It’s difficult to differentiate one place from another. All places seem the same — from the inside of Katya’s sub, to the inside of the Leviathan, to the inside of the station. Sometimes I had to go back and look to see where we were now because they were all so similar. Part of this comes with the challenge that Jonathan L Howard set up for himself by setting his world under water.
It is nice that, while part of a planned series, this book does have it’s own beginning, middle, and end, and if I never read another “Russalka Chronicles” book, I don’t feel cheated.
However, I liked it enough, and was intrigued enough, that I would probably buy the next book in the series.
Looking for a good book? This would count as such.
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author: Jonathan L. Howard
publisher: Strange Chemistry
paperback, 339 pages