Katya’s World is a water world filled with predators, and each predator is like a shark, eager to take a bite at the first scent of blood. Katya Kuriakova’s very first submarine voyage as a navigator is instantly ruined when a FMA (Federal Maritime Authority) officer commandeers her sub for a prisoner transport. From that point on, Katya’s trip only sinks deeper into the unforgiving oceans of Russalka.

First, disaster strikes Katya’s sub, then when it seems that that safety has finally reached their shores they realize it’s only for a brief stint.  Then pirates attack.  How much more danger could Katya possibly float into? Treachery, loyalty, and hidden alliances fill these electrified pages, leaving the reader scrambling to uncover the next unforeseeable event sure to be lurking around the nearest corner.

There are two main characters in my mind that stand out predominantly.  Katya is a brilliant young navigator who has a knack for coming up with wild ideas and has a stubborn determination to be involved with each and every decision and action taken. The second character is the infamous pirate Kane Havilland, for whose amusing dialog and characterization alone it is worth reading the entire book. Kane is a ‘Captain Jack Sparrow-esque’ figure with an amount of secrets piled so high, he could fill the very void of space with them.  Even at the closure of Katya’s World there are still untold mysteries about Kane left unresolved.

Russalka is a former colony of Earth before “winning” its independence in a vicious war. The author’s idea of lumping together similar ethnicities for colonization of habitable planets is fantastic for giving this book its vibrant Russian texture, due to the nature of Russalka’s ancestors being of Russian descent.

There are multiple twists and turns within Katya’s World, but the major one Howard throws into play is a game changer. It also smashes the doors wide open for a sequel and I’d be intrigued to see possible contact with other unmentioned colonies.

I’ve only read a few YA novels and frankly find only minimal differences between them and your standard adult Sci Fi / Fantasy genres. Katya’s World definitely has a slight, girl-coming-of-age feel to it and in this regard Katya does tend to question herself immensely and put a vast amount of the burden squarely on her shoulders. Whether she is able to handle it and how her character evolves from a young innocent and newly anointed navigator into something much grander progresses rapidly throughout the book.

Katya’s World is a great start to what is earmarked as the Russalka Chronicles and I’d love to see how the author would expand on them.  He has a million different paths he could traverse within this gritty universe he has constructed. 8 out of 10 Liams for Strange Chemistry’s Katya’s World by Jonathan L. Howard and in case you haven’t caught on yet, I would love to see what magic Mr. Howard would weave with a second book in this series.

Thanks to Amanda Rutter for the copy! You can find Strange Chemistry Here and Jonathan L. Howard Here.

(Liam wishes he had a toy submarine!)


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