Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Review: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love.Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry 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. For 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. ~ Goodreads
Vessel is a beautiful, richly detailed story that is full of action, yet moves very slowly and deliberately as it unravels Liyana's tale of sacrifice and self discovery.
Liyana has lived her life preparing as a vessel for the Goddess Bayla. The God's choose one person from each desert tribe to inhabit for the next 100 years and perform miracles that will ensure the tribes survival. It is a great honor to be chosen as a vessel but you do forfeit your life. When the time comes for Liyana to sacrifice herself and save her tribe, the Bayla never shows up, leaving Liyana ostracized by her people and left on her own in the desert to survive.
Liyana is saved by Korbyn, the trickster God, who realizes that the God's have not abandoned their tribes but are in trouble and unable to take over their vessels. Liyana agrees to help Korbyn find out what is happening and then eventually follow through with her plan to sacrifice herself to her Goddess and save her people.
As they travel looking for the other vessels a relationship of sorts develops between the two and the ethics of the whole process begins to get murky. Korbyn starts to see Liyana as more than a vessel and begins to question the practice of sacrificing a human life just to host the God's so they can roam around earth a little longer. They do serve a purpose and help the tribes survive the harsh desert life but does the vessel have to die in order for this to happen?
Liyana starts to develop feelings for Korbyn as well but she's living on borrowed time and her body/life is not her own. Also add in the Korbyn is trying to get his lifelong lover, Bayla into Liyana's body, thereby killing her. Oy….it's complicated with these two.
I love delving into moral dilemma's and this was my favorite part of Vessel. It asks a lot of questions about faith, justification for war, humanity and lets the reader explore the answers for themselves. The villain, the Emperor, is complex as are the vessels and God's they meet along the way. My favorite was Raan who did not want to give her body to her Goddess and fought all the way. That is unheard of in this world. This also starts to break down Liyana's resolve for sacrificing herself to Bayla whom she finally meets. Unfortunately the God's and Goddess's have not become as altruistic as Korbyn has in their absence.
I think for most readers the overwhelming draw will be to the trickster God, Korbyn, but personally I was fascinated with the Emperor and the motivations for his actions. I felt really short changed with his character though. He's an important factor to the outcome of this tale, yet we never get to see the full development of his storyline. He almost felt tacked on and it made his concluding storyline feel a little "less" than it should have been.
Rating: 3 out of 4 The pacing for Vessel is very methodical, slowly unraveling the tales and fables of the God's. The storytelling is gorgeous but the writing style does slow things down quite a bit. When Korbyn and Liyana first started out to collect the vessels I was fascinated, then I got that antsy feeling and I started thinking - can we just get to them all already? When all the various threads with the God's, vessels and Emperor tied back together near the end I was pulled right back in. Liyana is a wonderful protagonist and a great example of a strong, vibrant, girl who explores romantic feelings but remains true to herself.
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Source: Received for review from the author via Simon & Schuster for my honest review
Buy the book! Vessel
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