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Katya's World (Strange Chemistry) Paperback – November 13, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Like one of his acknowledged influences, Robert A. Heinlein, Howard does a wonderful job of enmeshing this teen-on-a-distant-planet into decidedly grown-up situations without patronizing her or simplifying the genre-related complexities. That’s achieved partly because Katya Kuriakova, a fledgling sub navigator on a water world, shares the stage with an ensemble cast of utterly believable and compelling characters. Most notable among these is Havilland Kayne, the mysterious pirate leader who is alternately Katya’s prisoner, savior, enemy, and friend. The other key ingredients are the intriguing plot—a vast, mysterious, and apparently self-aware weapon threatens to destroy friend and foe alike—and Howard’s deft storytelling. To access that storytelling one must first endure the prologue’s exposition dump, but that’s a structural strategy that pays off since the subsequent action doesn’t let up. Overall, this is a thrilling start to a series that hopefully won’t end anytime soon. Grades 9-12. --Peter Gutierrez


“It’s a highly effective, thought-provoking novel, and it left me looking forward to the next volume.” Philip Reeve, author of the Predator Cities series.

“A really well imagined world, detailed and utterly believable, great mix of technical detail and breathless action.”
- Charlie Higson, author of the Young Bond series and the Enemy series.

"So for the alien location the setting seems comfortingly familiar and if you’ve ever enjoyed a submarine based film, give Katya’s World a go. With the scene quickly set, it’s really about the story. There’s feds and pirates and crew just trying to do their job; a world getting by after a war with Earth which may not be as over as everyone thinks. Plus there’s plenty of secrets and double-crossing like any good adventure."
- Ellie, Curiosity Killed The Bookworm

"...for me this is what superior YA fiction is all about."
-Tomorrow's Nostalgia 

Product Details

  • Series: Strange Chemistry (Book 5)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Strange Chemistry (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781908844132
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908844132
  • ASIN: 1908844132
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,229,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan L. Howard is a game designer and BAFTA nominated scriptwriter of some twenty years experience.

He's been a novelist since 2009, débuting with the darkly humorous "Johannes Cabal the Necromancer." Since then the sequels "Johannes Cabal the Detective" (2010), "Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute" (2011), and "The Brothers Cabal" (2014) have also seen print. A new Cabal novel is set for publication in late 2016.

The first novel of his Russalka Chronicles trilogy, "Katya's World," a YA science fiction story that takes place on the dangerous and unforgiving ocean-covered world of Russalka, was published in 2012, the first sequel, "Katya's War," following in 2013.

2014 saw the beginning of the "Goon Squad" project, an ongoing story of mismatched superheroes, published in episodes.

His new series of modern horror novels begins with "Carter & Lovecraft," due for publication in October 2015.

Jonathan L. Howard lives with his family in the English West Country.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Strange Chemistry is the Young Adult imprint of Angry Robot books, a new publisher of cutting edge science fiction and fantasy in print and ereader formats. I am a fan of the entire publisher, having bought and read several of their offerings and suggest that other readers explore this intriguing new publisher at their earliest convenience. Now for Katya's World.

Not since Frank Herbert created the desert planet of Dune has there been a planet of such stark singularity as Russalka. Russalka is the polar opposite of Dune in that this land is all stormy sea and electrical storms, with the only dry land not land at all but the polar ice caps that are necessary for any planet to maintain life. Russalka was discovered on survey missions to find livable planets for colonization and was almost passed over because of the lack of land and harsh conditions, but the sea, the sea is full of numerous, rare and precious minerals. And thus it came to be colonized by people whose economy would be based on mining those minerals and selling them not only to distant Earth but to other nearby colonies. Earth disappeared from the scene for a while and reappeared a hundred years later after civil strife expecting to take over the riches and government of Russalka. As might be imagined, this resulted in a bloody war of independence against a colonial power.

Now meet, Katya, a fifteen year old girl who has just been granted her navigation certificate and is about to embark on her first submarine voyage as a navigator. People grow up quickly on Russalka, not only does the environment require it, but the fact that almost two generations of adults were effectively lost in the war of independence and the need to rebuild has made workers of all kinds more vital than ever.
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The story is interesting. The characters are compelling. It's finally a story about a heroine who doesn't spend any time at all wondering "WHICH BOY WILL I CHOOSE??? OMG" so that's awesome. However, I'm a huge fan of Johannes Cabal. If you're looking at this because you love that series, this is not going to satisfy. I was disappointed. I was hoping for the wit and dry humor of Johannes Cabal but found a very straightforward sci-fi adventure story. It wasn't bad, just not what I was looking for from Jonathan L. Howard.
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Format: Paperback
Katya's World is an action-driven science fiction novel. Engaging characters and a high fun factor compensate for its lack of depth.

The Russalkans, out of touch with Earth for more than a century, live in caves they have carved into undersea mountains on the ocean world they have colonized. When the Terrans finally return, the Russalkans no longer consider themselves subordinate to Terran government. Russalka goes to war to defend itself from Earth's claim to ownership of the planet and governance of its peoples. Russalka prevails when Earth's fleet unexpectedly departs. Since the reason for that retreat remains a mystery, the Russalkans worry that their victory is only temporary.

It is against this background that Katya Kuriakova becomes an apprentice submarine navigator. On her first voyage, however, the sub is commandeered by a federal officer who needs to transport a pirate named Havilland Kane to a federal prison. Kane, polite and jovial, seems to pose little danger. More menacing is a deep sea creature they come to call the Leviathan, a beast that seems not quite alive but not quite mechanical.

I've always been a sucker for submarine stories, but I thought the undersea action in Katya's World was particularly exciting. Yeah, it's sort of an underwater space opera but how often do you read one of those? There's enough plot here to hold the action sequences together, but it's the action, not the plot, that drives the story. Fortunately, the action scenes are vivid, making Katya's World a stirring read.

The most interesting aspect of Katya's World is Katya's ambivalence about Earth. It is, on the one hand, the birthplace of Russalkan civilization, and on the other, the homeworld of an enemy that seems determined to destroy Russsalka.
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Format: Paperback
Okay, I know you have a description up there, but let me tell you about this book is really about: SUBMARINES. SEA MONSTERS (?). PIRATES. Enticed? You should be! Katya's World took me by surprise by just how amazing it was.

The novel begins as Katya Kuriakova is making her first trip as a navigator aboard her Uncle Pushkin's small submarine. It was supposed to be a simple, routine trip to deliver supplies to a nearby colony, but as they're leaving, their vessel is commandeered by a young government official who demands they take him to the prison camp so he can deliver his captive-a notorious pirate named Havilland Kane. What's worse is that he knows very little about submarine navigation, especially for a boy who lives in a world encased by water, and he demands that they go through a particularly treacherous part...which is where they awaken something that could mean the destruction of everyone on their barely colonized planet.

Katya's World is action packed, in such a way that it's subtly addicting. I didn't realize I couldn't put the book down until it was 2:00 in the morning and I had to go to bed so I could get up at the crack of dawn the next day! I couldn't help it, though-I just kept reading and reading because it's SO GOOD. I can't wait for the next installment.

As far as characters go, they were all so real; I could perfectly image each one. Katya's World has a truly great set of characters.

Katya Kuriakova-obviously the protagonist-is fifteen-almost-sixteen years old, and she's very proud to be allowed to enter into the workforce, which officially makes her an adult. She's a very bright young girl-often hinted at being a prodigy-but she's not obnoxious in her intelligence. Katya is quiet and listens, taking everything in.
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