Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Katya's War (Russalka Chronicles #2) by Jonathan L. Howard - Ashley's Review

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

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Title: Katya's War
Author: Jonathan L. Howard
Year Published: 2013

My Katya's War Pre-Reading
My Katya's World Review
Paul's Katya's World Review

The battle lines have been drawn. The people of Russalka turn upon one another in a ruthless and unwavering civil war even while their world sickens and the deep black ocean is stained red with their blood. As the young civilization weakens, its vitality fueling the opposing militaries at the cost of all else, the war drums beat louder and louder. 

Katya Kuriakova knows it cannot last. Both sides are exhausted – it can only be a matter of days or weeks before they finally call a truce and negotiate. But the days and weeks pass, the death toll mounts, and still the enemy will not talk. 

Then a figure from the tainted past returns to make her an offer she cannot lightly refuse – a plan to stop the war. But to do it she will have to turn her back on everything she has believed in, everything she has ever fought for, to make sacrifices greater even than laying down her own life. To save Russalka, she must become its greatest enemy.


Review: It's so hard to find a straight, hard sci-fi novel in the YA genre right now. Most everything is a mix of sci-fi/fantasy, fantasy, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, or romance, or some combination. The Russalka Chronicles comes as a breath of fresh air, and Katya's War did not disappoint! 

Although I had a little bit of a hard time getting into this story, I really enjoyed it once I finally got past all of the (necessary) setup at the beginning. It doesn't really seem all that important to know about the FMA and the Nags and the fighting and Katya's life in between Katya's World and this book, but all of it ends up being a huge reason why this book works so well. Katya feels safe amidst the civil war, and figures it must be on the brink of ending soon. The big reveal in the middle would not have been nearly as effective if the seemingly-slow beginning hadn't been there. 

Katya really had to grow up in Katya's World, and was put into extraordinary situations that were incredibly difficult for adults, much less a 15 year old girl. In Katya's War, she finds herself in even worse circumstances, and handles them better than the people who put her there to begin with. She's quick-thinking, caring, loyal, adaptable, and willing to do whatever it takes to save her world, regardless of what that means for her personally. I think she's one of my favorite heroines in any series, and I love watching her grow and mature. I don't like that such a young girl is forced to make the decisions she has made, but I think it's great that she handles them with grace and never allows them to tear her down or give up. 

I was really glad that some old favorites were back too - Kane, the Chertokva, Sergei, and others eventually show up to put in their two cents. These minor characters don't go through the amount of change and growth that Katya does and stay mostly the same, but each one is met with certain situations that make them look at aspects of their lives differently. They have minor revelations and try to right past wrongs, and I thought it was really neat to get to know them even better. I really hope they come back in the final book in the trilogy! 

This book was very similar to Katya's World, but still had its own unique characters and plot points and conflicts. I love that it's hard science fiction, and I would definitely recommend this series to anyone looking for pure sci-fi in YA. If you've read Katya's World, you definitely don't want to miss this sequel! The ending is so open that I can't wait for the final book to come out so I can find out what's next for Katya, Russalka, and all her friends. 4/5!

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