Katya’s World by Jonathan L Howard

Katya's World Cover

I wasn’t quite sure how to do this review, so I’ll start at the beginning, and try to explain exactly what Katya’s world is. It’s actually explained best in the prologue of the book – in just a few pages, you feel very familiar with the history of Russalka, and the people living there. To  summarise though, Russalka is a colony on a distant planet, set many years into the future.

The planet is completely waterlogged, and the surface of the sea is almost inhospitable due to violent storms. On the seabed, however, are many valuable minerals, and so an underwater colony was set up to mine these minerals for other colonies.

Sadly, during this time, things seemed very unstable on Earth, and they eventually declared war on the planet. Many of the older generation on Russalka have lived through this war, as well as surviving the harsh conditions.

Katya is a 15 year old girls who’s just finished training as a navigator, and is ready for her first day working on her uncle’s submarine. She comes across as being older, but considering the harsh conditions they live under, I would expect her to be more mature than her age, and this shows as the story progresses.

This first voyage doesn’t go to plan, as they are forced to take on a prisoner and his guard. During the journey they come across a strange vessel which attacks them, and from there the story doesn’t let up for a minute! Katya finds herself in lots of different situations, and dealing with many different people, as events move swiftly. It’s soon clear that not only are Katya and  those with her in great danger, but the future of the whole planet is soon to change as well.

I’ll be honest, although I do enjoy some sci-fi, the idea of submarines in an underwater world didn’t really grab me, but the fascinating prologue certainly did, and I ended up loving this book. It actually has a wide appeal – it’s not just suitable for the YA market, although they will most certainly enjoy it; it’s not just for the male species (ok, I’m sounding sexist, and I don’t mean it that way, but books with submarines and war do make me think they would appeal to men); and it’s not just for sci-fi readers.

Katya is only 15, but as I’ve already explained, she is very mature – so you have a young adult’s point of view, but it will appeal to all. There are some really good sci-fi ideas, especially in the technology used, but they are both believable and understandable, so readers won’t get swamped or lost. There are some good characters, both male and female, and covering various ages.

The vessel which attacks them at the beginning sets up a very real threat, all against the background of a changing world. The pace of the book doesn’t let up, and there are plenty of twists and turns. The story told does resolve, so there’s no nasty cliff hanger, but it’s also left open for future books set in Russalka – and I for one am very keen to see where their future takes them.

Katya’s World is published early November, by the new YA imprint Strange Chemistry.

Stay tuned for more information.

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