“When you predict the future, when you do so strongly and you cling to it, how much of that future do you then cause to happen?”
TITLE & AUTHOR: And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, Rovina Cai (Illustrator)
PUBLISHED : September 4th 2018, by HarperTeen
MY RATING: 4/5
This is only the second Patrick Ness book I’ve ever read, but it’s pretty clear at this moment that he’ll make the list of my favorite authors, and that I need to read more of his work ASAP. That being said, A Monster Calls is a masterpiece, but And the Ocean Was Our Sky falls a bit short. Not that it’s bad in any way, I did give it four stars, it’s just that I feel it could have been a bit more haunting, emotional, I don’t know, I didn’t feel much as I expected to.
Basically, it’s a short upside-down retelling of Moby Dick, where whales are in an eternal war with men, and at some point the hunted became the hunters. The story is narrated by a whale Bathsheba, who is a part of a fierce hunting pod of female whales who go down to the surface (Because for them the bottom of the ocean is up, and the water surface is down.) and hunt drowning men or attack ships. They don’t kill for fun – their motto is ‘don’t waste’, so they use human skin, bones and fat for various purposes. Hunting is their calling and they do it honorably.
Beside the regular hunts, and occasional fights between pods, there is an eternal hunt, a legend of an elusive whale killer called Toby Wick, and one day Bathsheba‘s pod comes upon a sign pointing in his direction. Toby Wick hasn’t ever actually been seen by a whale, and Bathsheba is very doubtful of their mission, but their fierce Captain won’t stop at nothing to claim him, and no one but Bathsheba dares to defy her. The Captain is driven by her duty as a leader, but also by the deep hatred all whales carry for men, for in their eyes all men are monsters, and Toby Wick is the worst of them all – a devil.
This is a metaphorical tale told as a kind of a legend or a fable, where the main message conveyed is that a powerful rumor, a tale passed on by generations can actually create the very thing you fear in the first place. Do we choose our own fate or are we born chosen for a great feat?
“For there are devils in the deep, but worst are the ones we make.”
This story is certainly not for everyone, even though you’re a Patrick Ness fan (or not), but if you like beautifully crafted stories with deeper meaning, along with gorgeous illustrations then you should give this one a go. The illustrations were a big plus because they are so amazing, and with so many illustrative pieces they are a crucial part of the story-line. I’ve read an ARC, so my copy was is black & white, with more than a half drawings left as sketches, but I didn’t mind because the ones I did see and the cover were so gorgeous I knew the finished product would be a treasure. I’ve also been following Rovina Cai, the illustrator, for a while now, and I’ve seen the magic she can do.
A thank-you to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.