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And the Ocean Was Our Sky Reviews

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, Rovina Cai

And the Ocean Was Our Sky

Patrick Ness, Rovina Cai

3.50 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Walker Books Ltd
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Publication date: 1 Sep 2018
ISBN: 9781406383560

From the multi-award-winning author of A Monster Calls comes a haunting tale of power and obsession that turns the story of Moby Dick upside down. 

  • The TimesBook of the Week
3 stars out of 5
Alex O’Connell
1 Sep 2018

"'The tables are turned in this whale tale, but there’s too much blubber'"

Ness’s imagination is often awe-inspiring; he goes to places no whale has gone before and is never short of a deep thought. This is not just a story about hunting whales, it’s a comment on the futility of war, and the myths that we create and use as excuses for our actions.
Yet, try as I might, I found it hard to feel for any of these characters and the story was often confusing for this 44-year-old — and may stump younger readers expecting Ness’s usually gripping, emotionally engaging style. I was reminded of his previous novel, Release, which — as I said in my review at the time — was excellent, but for some “baffling hallucinatory passages involving a Queen and a faun”. Sadly, I found much of this story for mid-range readers experimental blubber — too mystical, forced and preachy. You could say it beached this whale.


4 stars out of 5
1 Nov 2018

"The writing is as beautiful as you might expect"

In Patrick Ness’ amazing homage to the American literature classic Moby Dick, the worlds of ocean and sky are upturned, and it’s a whale that tells her version of the story of hunter and hunted. With a reversal of point of view (a literal one, with Rovina Cai’s exceptional illustration showing whales swimming upside down, with the ocean floor as their sky) comes Ness’ re-visioning of the patriarchal exploitation of the natural world, and of man’s destructive obsession to conquer what he falsely believes he is master of.
The writing is as beautiful as you might expect, and its literary style, as well as some dark imagery, make it appropriate for older readers.

4 stars out of 5
4 Oct 2018

"'Moby-Dick is reimagined from the whale’s point of view in this lyrical, pacey tale'"

At first glance this heavily illustrated book looks more like Ness’s bestselling A Monster Calls than his Chaos Walking series and YA titles. But as in all his work, the writing is clear and often lyrical, and the story moves with plenty of pace. The themes of personal identity and difficult moral choices are also familiar Ness concerns. With their haunting, melancholy sense of the undersea world, Rovina Cai’s full-page and double-page illustrations are beautiful in their own right, but they’re a real enhancement to the story and perfectly integrated into the design. This is a book for all ages, although some scenes contain graphic violence, so it might be a little too strong for children under 10. I loved it, and you can call me Ishmael if it doesn’t end up on several prize shortlists.