Review: And the Ocean was Our Sky - Patrick Ness
Genre: fantasy, illustrated novel Published: Walker Books, September 2018
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
‘’For there are devils in the deep But the worst are the ones we make’’
As with most of Patrick Ness' books, I'm not sure if this premise spawned from the mind of a genius, a mad-man, or perhaps a little bit of both... And the Ocean Was Our Sky is a sort of flipped Moby Dick retelling, from the perspective of the whales, and it's as original and bizar as that sounds. I'm not even sure how best to review this, as it's a book that is best experienced, instead of talked about. So I guess this is going to be a short one.
What I liked: - The illustrations These had to be the first thing I mentioned, as I feel they added at least an extra star to the story. The novella is full of illustrations, in the same style as the gorgeous coverart, to support the story, and it works wonders. I’m not usually big on illustrated stories, graphic novels and a like but in this case, it added an extra layer to the atmosphere that drives this book. - The originality and worldbuilding Topnotch Patrick Ness... The upside-down world of the whales, the whale-ships, their almost military society... Again: I'm not sure if Patrick Ness is a genius or just insane. - Symbolism As you might expect based on the synopsis, and the fact that this is a Patrick Ness story: it's filled with so many layers of symbolism. This story is like the ocean it describes: their is a world below the surface, if only you dive into it.
What I didn't like: - The characters More specifically, their development. I feel the story might have been a little too short for them to come to full fruition, so most of them felt a little surface level to me. To a lesser extend: this goes for the whale-society as well. I'd have loved a little bit more background and build up for this, and I feel I would have enjoyed the novel more if it had been a little longer. - The bizar-ness Although the bizarre nature of Ness' stories are often a selling point; in this case it kept me from being fully immersed in the story.
In the end, I do recommend this book, but probably not as your first book by this author. I feel like I appreciated it more, because I was already familiar with his style, and I imagine it could be a bit of a "culture shock" if you're completely unfamiliar with it.
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