by Jonathan L. Howard Published by Strange Chemistry
on November 6th 2012 Pages:
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.
The beginning pages of Katya's World read similar to something out of a textbook. It's prologue, if that is what you want to call it, seems almost formal in describing how the inhabitants of this world came to be on this planet, the people's relationship to Earth, and its progression as a colony over the generations. While odd in its formality, this prologue set the stage for one of the most unique reads I have ever come across.
I have been racking my brain trying to come to terms with this read. Part of what makes Katya's World so wonderful, sadly, is also part of its downfall. A colony on a far distant planet. A people who generations later see themselves as a separate entity, having no real relationship with their home planet. An underwater world. This book just screams potential. I wanted to know everything about this foreign world. However, Howard only took us so far.
In Katya's World, one of the most disappointing aspects was the lack of information to fill the world out. Howard gives beautiful descriptions of air crafts, submarines, and all sorts of technical items. But when it came to the planet and its people, the one area that I really wanted to know more about, Howard's beautiful descriptions were strangely absent. What do these people eat? How does a normal person live? What normally equates to nothing more than background noise for me, was thrust into the forefront due to the lack of answers.
Now, that is not to say that my lack of answers, especially in this area, take away from the book. It really does not. But when introducing something so foreign, I feel as if I need to understand this world at least to a certain point. Plus with the very real possibility that Katya's World is a standalone, I am left to remember the questions that I wish had been answered instead of those that were.
I tried really, really hard to love Katya's World. In the end, I would like to think that a part of me did. Katya was an immensely strong female lead. Plenty of action. A wonderful group of secondary characters. There really is a lot to enjoy about this read. However, the lack of certain questions being addressed took away more from my reading experience than I ever anticipated it would. There is no doubt in my mind that if Howard had expanded the book's focus a bit more, Katya's World could have gone from a decent read to a phenomenal one.