I received this book for free from HarperTeen in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness
Published by HarperTeen on September 4th, 2018
Genres: Adventure, Middle Grade
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With harpoons strapped to their backs, the proud whales of Bathsheba's pod live for the hunt, fighting in the ongoing war against the world of men. When they attack a ship bobbing on the surface of the Abyss, they expect to find easy prey. Instead, they find the trail of a myth, a monster, perhaps the devil himself...
As their relentless Captain leads the chase, they embark on a final, vengeful hunt, one that will forever change the worlds of both whales and men.
With the lush, atmospheric art of Rovina Cai woven in throughout, this remarkable work by Patrick Ness turns the familiar tale of Moby Dick upside down and tells a story all its own with epic triumph and devastating fate.
I think we need to get one thing clear right off the bat and that is that this book, And the Ocean Was Our Sky is fucking weird. And the Ocean Was Our Sky follows Bathsheba, who happens to be a whale. This book is 110% literary middle grade fiction and at times feels like it is trying too hard but you know what, I still thought it was great.
The entire time I was reading it, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around how weird it was that we had a whale narrator whose voice read very much like a human but also, the humans were the enemy. I definitely had no issues with the humans being the enemies since we all know humans suck but it was still jarring to have that contradiction and I get the feeling Ness basically did that on purpose to fuck with us because he likes doing that (if you’ve read any of his other books, you will know that he has a PhD in messing with his readers emotions.)
So anyway. Bathsheba is a whale and being a whale is great. BUT it actually isn’t because she saw her fam get slaughtered by humans and that is no bueno. For so long she has been driven by her drive to get revenge but when her pod imprisons a human to get information on the very devil itself, Bathsheba is conflicted. Especially as she gets to know this human better and starts to feel for him.
…We are taking a quick intermission to make it clear that this novel isn’t about a romance between a whale and a human. IT ISN’T THE BEE MOVIE. WE CAN ALL CHILL. Anyway, back to the review…
I really did insult this book earlier by saying its trying to hard but And the Ocean Was Our Sky truly is a beautiful read. For a book about a whale, it sure has a lot to say about human nature and human emotions. I know for a fact I’d appreciate it even more if I had read Moby Dick so I could truly enjoy how Ness was subverting the original text to create something maybe even more powerful. Regardless, it isn’t the end of the world that I haven’t read it (I do want to now) or if you haven’t read it. And the Ocean Was Our Sky holds up quite well on its own and is definitely worth your time if you’re the sort of person to enjoy books about whales that are actually reflections on human nature.
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Rosie @ As Told By Rosie
I’ve never read “Moby Dick” either, and I don’t feel as bad about it now! Ness really is the master of messing with emotions. I read “More Than This” a few years ago. Even though I don’t typically go for middle grade, I may need to read this one. A whale narrator has definitely grasped my attention! Also, “fucking weird” is my jam!