Monday, November 5, 2012

Katya's World - Paul's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry on NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*

Title: Katya's World
Author: Jonathan L. Howard
Year Published: 2012

Release Date: Tuesday November 6, 2012

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Synopsis: 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.

Review: I was very excited when I received an eARC of this book. Adventures at sea, an ocean world, a submarine crew, and it's set in the future? Sounds like my kind of book. Although it didn't quite meet all my expectations, I really enjoyed this book. 

First I will start with the world Howard has created. I loved it. The concept of colonies from Earth filled with people all originally from the same region of Earth was interesting. The Russian influence was done in a cool way. Although, I didn't think it was anywhere near as thorough and captivating as Leigh Bardugo did with her Russian influence in Shadow and Bone. The technology of this world also added to the world building, but often it was too wordy. 

One particular thing that irked me that may not bother some is the use of what I like to call the Scooby Doo plan. This happens when a character comes up with an idea to solve the problem at hand and gathers everyone together to tell the plan. Then, in a tv show or movie there is a fade out to the plan taking action. In a book, it just jumps ahead in time to when the plan is followed through. This sometimes works, but I felt this happened often in this book and each time I came upon one I cringed.

The plot of this book is far from simple. The goals of the characters change throughout the story as new things come into play. There wasn't a simple beginning, middle, and end. Instead, more and more conflicts just kept arising. I thought this gave the story an edge-of-your-seat kind of feel. 

The end of this book was very filmlike. For most of the book we follow Katya's point of view, then for the last few scenes we see other characters perspectives. It felt like a film script adapted to novel format. It worked in this situation, but it confused me at first. 

I liked that there was no true romance story. Most YA with a female lead is primarily about romance. My favorite aspect of this book was the characters. Each of them were very full. Minor characters introduced in the beginning gained more depth as the novel progressed. Many characters ended up having inner struggles that were not apparent. Minor characters had their own goals and sides of different conflicts that brought more complexity to the plot.

Overall, I enjoyed this futuristic submariner story set on a world of water. I would recommend this to anyone who is a regular reader of YA sci-fi looking for a female lead that doesn't rely on a love interest. I give this book a 3/5.


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