Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: YA Contemporary (it’s hard to place)
Published by: Walker Books
Publication date: 06/09/18
My rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
A new Patrick Ness book is always a treat, partly because you never know what you’re going to get. And The Ocean Was Our Sky definitely didn’t disappoint, though in all honesty I didn’t think it would. I read it in two sittings, it took all my willpower to put it down so I could sleep. This will be a short review, as the book is 160 pages, I can’t say a huge amount without spoiling it.
And The Ocean Was Our Sky is a Moby Dick retelling from the perspective of the whale, although I’ve never read or watched it, I was intrigued by the concept. I’ll admit, it took a little while to get in the swing of things and get used to seeing the world through the eyes of someone so different to me, and adjusting to the world being upside down, it’ll make sense of you read it. The story is told by Bathsheba, a whale who was part of the crew hunting Tom Wicks, a man responsible for the death of many whales. A man it was prophesied they would face, defeat and perish with him. Her story begins as a calf when her grandmother tells her, quite simply that she will hunt, in turn setting a chain of events leading Bathsheba to that moment in the book.
We are a people of prophecy, and when I was a child and still a stupid calf, ignorant of all beyond the reaches of our own stretch of sea, my grandmother had said, simply, “You will hunt.”
There’s a strong sense of self prophesizing throughout, which I found incredibly interesting and was quite new to me. I haven’t read many where it played such a huge part in the story, it gave me a lot to think about, even if that wasn’t Patrick’s intention.
The illustrations throughout are stunning and bring so much more to the story. I could spend hours looking at them, taking in every little detail. One particular piece brought tears to my eyes, even without the words it was so heartbreaking I had to put the book down, I won’t say what part as I don’t want to spoil anything. This is definitely a story I will treasure, and is well worth the read.