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Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Format: Hardcover, 424 pages
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. She will dance and summon her tribe's deity, who will inhabit Liyana's body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But when the dance ends, Liyana is still there. Her tribe is furious--and sure that it is Liyana's fault. Abandoned by her tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. The desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice--she must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate--or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.
It's no secret that fantasy is my favourite genre. The premise of Vessel had me wide-eyed and eager with anticipation as soon as I heard of it with promises of a trickster god, desert tribes and sand-wolves. However while I liked it well enough, I found myself a little disappointed with Vessel.
Don't get me wrong, the world-building was great. I loved the fantasy elements and adored the stories that were shared. From the world set-up perspective, I was perfectly content and had no trouble at all tearing through this novel. It's easy to read and entertaining as an added bonus.
Where Vessel didn't fare as well for me was mostly in character development and plot progression. Vessel is well-positioned to examine a number of complex moral issues. However while these issues are addressed and pondered, I feel like the author could have done so much more with them by bringing in the characters more. Liyana and the other vessels all appeared fairly one-dimensional. I can categorize them easily by certain distinctive personality traits but these general overviews didn't allow me to connect with them on a more personal level. I wanted to be swept up in feeling for these teens but I struggled to empathize with their situations. The only character that really held my attention was Korbyn, the trickster god, who seemed the most complexly-developed to me.
Sarah Beth Durst is a talented writer and as I said before, the novel reads easily enough with the support of fascinating little stories, but I have to say that the plot dragged at times. The book is written to be slow-going but my dissatisfaction with some of the moral dilemmas coupled with some repetition made it feel overly so at parts.
I'm aware that this review may sound more negative than positive but I'd just like to stress that this novel is really one that I enjoyed reading. The expectations that I had for this book going into it were likely unfairly high and I think my disappointment reflects that. If it sounds remotely interesting to you though, I, as always, really encourage you to give it a try!
3 Golden Crowns
Cover Comments: *swoon* This cover is so dreamy, I adore it.