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FICTION

And the Ocean Was Our Sky

illus. by Rovina Cai. 160p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2018. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062860729.
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OrangeReviewStarGr 7 Up—As a young whale, Bathsheba was all too eager to join Captain Alexandra's crew hunting men for vengeance and the raw materials used in everyday whale life. But after years spent working her way up to Third Apprentice on the fiercest crew in the sea and sailing down toward the air-filled Abyss to hunt men, Bathsheba has begun to question the raw hatred that drives hunters in their constant war. Bathsheba's weary narrative is heavy with foreshadowing and circumspection as she relates the events that set her crew on a fateful hunt for the man Toby Wick—the devil known to whale and man for his terrible deeds and his fierce white ship. Ness channels Melville's original language well and uses the structure of Moby-Dick as a framework for this fast-paced and streamlined retelling filled with philosophical meditations and cautions against the violence of war and the power of prophecy—especially self-fulfilling ones. Cai's accompanying illustrations interspersed throughout bring the depths of the ocean to life with jarring, full-color artwork that calls back to the haunting setting and anguished tone of the narrative.
VERDICT An excellent, stirring counterpoint to the original text, rife with questions about the inexorable nature of belief and violence.

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