Book Review: And The Ocean Was Our Sky

IMG_8434 bookAnd the Ocean was Our Sky by Patrick Ness falls more into the short story/graphic novel category rather than novel which makes it a bit outside of my normal reading list. Still with the premise of Moby Dick turned on its head (quite literally in parts) and gorgeous, atmospheric illustrations throughout by Rovina Cai I was intrigued to read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. In the book we follow Bathsheba, an apprentice hunter as they trail after a myth and monster who leaves destruction in his wake. But Bathsheba isn't a human, rather a whale, in a pod that swims upside down (to us humans) through the ocean and call the air and land above the Abyss. The whales are locked in battle and an ongoing war with the humans who live below them and are obsessed with prophesy. Bathsheba herself did not wish to become a warrior whale, but was prophesied to be one by her grandmother and thus we begin to experience one of the novel's main theme of fate and destiny and determination (the last seems to be mostly illusion in this book). While short, it is well-written allowing us to jump straight into the strange and unfamiliar world that exists in parallel to our own. One of my favorite details of the book though is the illustrations by Rovina Cai; she works in a limited color palette of grays and red that makes for very striking and ominous images. The illustrations are also designed to be an intentional "pause" within the story, some are scattered with a few pages of written word in between, but at other parts the words melt away and we slowly page through picture after progressive picture. As a reader who frequently creates her own pause in stories --does no one else feel the need when reading a particularly good book to stop a moment, hold the book to your chest and just breathe?--I really enjoyed this element of the book. On the downside, I felt the story was bit short and the morales throughout a bit heavy-handed, but both of those can be chocked up to the fact the book is likely intended for a younger audience and thus the reading comprehension can't be too complicated. Still for sheer originality I did enjoy the story and it makes me intrigued to read more of Patrick Ness's work. book-2


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