And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, illustrated by Rovina Cai (9780062860729)
Get ready for a tale that will literally turn your perspective upside down. This is a novel that takes Moby Dick and transforms it into something new and fresh. Bathsheba is a hunter, serving her Captain and hunting men. As whales, they have their own ships, pulled by their Captain and containing the spoils of war. Whales waste nothing, unlike men. There is one man, Toby Wick, who is legendary. Having taken a man hostage, they have him lead them to Wick. But Bathsheba finds herself connecting with their prisoner and she refuses to kill him, making excuses to keep him alive with them. They continue their hunt of Wick, all heading to their destinies.
Ness draws readers immediately underwater and into the gravity-defying world of the whales. There is no chance to catch your breath and find your balance, instead you must trust in the current and follow where Ness leads you. His storytelling is that of a master, offering brevity and clarity as he builds a marvelous world below the surface of the water. There is a richness to his writing even though it is so crisp too, emotions deep and generations long playing out on the page.
Bathsheba is a compelling main character, filling the page with her doubts and questions about prophecies and destinies even as the book draws her closer and closer to her own. Throughout the book there is a feeling of a tragedy playing out before you, the homage to Moby Dick is deftly done. Readers familiar with the classic will immediately see the strong connections and still it is also a fascinating read without knowing the classic at all.
Another tremendously original and marvelous read from Ness. Appropriate for ages 10-13.
Reviewed from ARC provided by HarperTeen.