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

4.0 out of 5 stars 28 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 

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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 (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #694,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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Dive! Dive! Dive!

There is a tragic lack of space opera in the genre of Young Adult Fiction, a genre seemingly dominated by vampires or post-apocalyptia and sometimes those are not seperate. Not that some of those books are bad. It is simply a good old fashioned space adventure would be greatly appreciated.

Katya’s World is not a good old fashioned space adventure, but it is of a sub-genre that is greatly needed: pure science fiction.

The book takes place on the distant world of Russalka, an ocean world settled by Earth after an over population crisis. In order to avoid conflict among ethnic lines, all of the people settled there were originally Russian in descent. This already sets it apart from other books which usually feature American casts or fictional nationalities. The planet has no landmasses save the ice caps, so the settlers built there settlements either within the ocean floor or on floating platforms. Russalkins as they called themselves, using the worlds mineral wealth, built a society together, connected by submarines. The Russalkins became a tough, hardy people, stubborn and proud. They fought hard for their lives and fought even harder for it in a bloody war against Earth. The war is over but the oceans of Russalka have long memories and for some the war has not ended...

The setting is where the book really shines. Ocean planets have been done before in books and films but the planet of Russalka feels very real. The author does a good job of portraying submarine technology in realistic ways and integrating futuristic technology into them in ways that feel plausible. It also portrays the dangers of traveling beneath the ocean in ways that are genuinely threatening.
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Katya's World is a solidly written action adventure suitable for tweens and teens. The plot features 16 year old heroine Katya Kuriakova and her watery planet, Russalka. Katya is the descendant of Russian colonists who set up mining concerns on the harsh world. On her maiden voyage as a navigator on her Uncle's sub, they are commandeered to transport an odd prisoner across a dangerous area of water. Her planet's previous war with Terran Earth and the enigmatic surface dwellers will soon present a very real and very disastrous future for Katya and her world. For there's something deadly about to be awoken from the ocean's floor.

The book featured quite a bit of great action, danger, mystery, and suspense. Katya is inventive and a take charge kind of girl. What I found particularly appealing is its complete lack of misogyny - something too rampant in teen action/adventure books. All of the women hold their own with the guys and we really get a feel for gritty miners, their subs and trading, and the politics of the oceanic planet.

Katy's World is the first book in a series and introduces us (and Katya) to the first of two major groups on Russalka: the surface platform dwelling Yagizban. The seconds explore's Katya's subsurface dwelling politicals: the FMA Peacekeepers. The third book will likely be about the Terrans.

In all, I enjoyed this book and looked forward to continuing the story in Katya's War.
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