Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Katya's World - M's Review

Katya’s World by Jonathan L. Howard

Katya’s World is a futuristic sci-fi novel about artificial and synthetic intelligences. It’s also a real adventure.

It’s set in the future on Russalka, a space colony covered in water. There is no land and there is no warming sun or blue sky. The Russalkans, who came from Earth, live under the sea in pressurised environments. Fifteen year old Katya is on her first submarine trip as the new navigator when they’re forced to take on a couple of unwelcome passengers. From here on, the course of their trip changes dramatically, especially when they think they’ve struck gold. Little do they know that this ‘gold strike’ is about to completely change Katya’s world. And it seems that passenger Kane holds far more keys than he’s letting on.

Katya's World by Jonathan L. Howard
Katya’s World is a page-turning action and adventure sci-fi story full of strategy and puzzles for the characters to solve, and twist and turns for the reader to predict. There’s plenty of action but no gratuitous violence or lashings of gruesome. Where it’s thin on bloody detail it’s heavy on technical and scientific detail. For those of you who like to pick holes in the physics, you’ll enjoy.  Not because there are any holes (I don’t know!) but because there’s plenty of the science in the novel to occupy you.  For those readers where the science doesn’t appeal all that much, there’s plenty of plot and character in the sci-fi too.

It’s not a patronising plot either. Fifteen-nearly-sixteen year old Katya is faced with a situation that frightens and puzzles her just as much as it does the much older cast of war-weary military men and women. Katya is a strong and independent main character.

Published by Strange Chemistry, a new YA imprint from Angry Robot, I think this is a novel that can wear it’s YA label proudly. It’s a pageturner that packs in plenty of sufficient conceptual and vocabulary challenge too.  It doesn’t fall into any of the YA-as-a-genre trappings that so many other Young Adult novels do. I would happily recommend it to any confident reader, young or old.

Katya’s World is written as Book 1 in The Russalka Chronicles. Whether this is to be a trilogy or similar, what is promising is that Katya’s World has an ending which makes it a good standalone novel. There are no cliffhangers. Whether you like the ending or not, for me it was certainly a satisfying end. And I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next instalment.

Publication details:
Strange Chemistry, 1 Nov 2012, Oxford, paperback

This copy: Advance proof received for review from the publisher

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