I was lucky enough to get an ARC of Katya’s World by Jonathan Howarda little while ago. I read the synopsis when looking into the Strange Chemistry releases and I was very much so looking forward to its release. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait that long!
Katya’s World is a YA science-fiction that takes place on a planet called Russalka, far from Earth and cut off from the other nearby colonies since the war with Earth saw all their satellites destroyed. Russalka is a world like no other: there is no land on the surface of its ocean, and the weather above water is always stormy and dangerous. As such, the Russalkan live under the water, in domed cities and travelling by submarines.
Russalka is a harsh world, but the Russian colonists that moved there, centuries ago, have made it their own and everyone in the underwater cities knows their role from a very young age. Such a person is Katya Kurnikova, fifteen-soon-to-be-sixteen, who just got her card proving her as a navigator. Her first trip is to be on her uncle’s boat, Pushkin’s Baby, a straightforward trip that should take a matter of hours.
Everything is complicated, however, by the arrival of an FMA agent who commandeers the Baby to transport a prisoner and infamous pirate—Havilland Kane—to a detention facility. However, the agent forces the crew of the Baby to cut through a dangerous and usually unnavigated route because it is straightforward and, he assumes, will get them there faster. On their way, however, Katya and her uncle uncover something that is going to change their lives forever, and not in the way they first think.
With something that may well be out of myth and legend suddenly bent on destroying Russalka, Katya has no choice but to question her alliances, work with FMA and pirate alike and use all her wits as she works to uncover Kane’s secrets and the truth behind the monster everyone is calling the Leviathan.
Katya’s World is a fast-paced adventure during which you’ll hardly get the time to pause and catch your breath. Howard’s prose lends itself wonderfully to the world, story, and characters he has crafted: it is quick and efficient, delivering the story sharply.
Katya is a wonderfully realistic teenager in a world where being the age she is doesn’t mean the same as it does to us, and yet she is full of the same doubts, stubbornness, and feelings as a girl her age would be when thrown in the situation she is in. The only difference is that Katya is Russalkin, and as such reacts to the events around her in a much more cool-headed way than ever she thought she was capable of. She had a couple of times of being very judgemental and yes, it did drive me mad, but I remember being much like that as her age so I suppose I can’t really complain!
Her main counterpart throughout the story is Havilland Kane, pirate, suspected-Terran, and holder of more secrets than he is willing to let on. Kane is a wonderful character with a sharp tongue, infallible manners, and more charisma than he should truly possess. Kane’s story is a sad one, but I definitely hope that we get to see more of him in the second instalment of the series.
The rest of the cast is as well written and the FMA agent who started it all even is allowed his redeeming moment towards the end, proving he’s not as bad as everyone thought he was. It was a touch I really liked, as it added something to an otherwise slightly bland character.
Katya’s World was very much so a page-turner for me and after the second half of the book I found it really hard to put it down. Definitely keeping an eye out for the sequel!