And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness has a tendency to write beautiful, mesmerizing books — and he’s done so, once again, with And the Ocean Was Our Sky, a haunting twist on the Moby Dick story that — despite its whale protagonist, offers a unique exploration of humanity.

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.

This is a weird little book, and I suspect some readers are going to struggle with it because it is so odd and unique — but damn, if I didn’t find it completely captivating. Ness’s writing is, as always, so lovely — and his imagination must have worked overtime in developing this world in which whales hunt the humans that have hunted them.

Themes of war and villainy and humanity and compassion are explored elegantly through each scene, with the narrative echoing the classic story of Moby Dick (though you need not have read that book to enjoy this one). And Rovina Cai’s illustrations are haunting as they accompany the story. Even the rough sketches in the ARC I read were beautiful, and I’m itching to get my hands on a finished copy to see the final pieces.

At turns both thought-provoking and emotionally charged, And the Ocean Was Our Sky is a book that is sure to leave a lasting impression. Look for it in stores tomorrow.

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