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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Publication Date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry 
Stand Alone Novel
Young Adult
Pages: 424
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

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.
*Finished copy provided by Sarah Beth Durst for an honest review*

I had read this all the way back in September and just found the time to write this review and say what I wanted to say. Between college and personal problems going on in my life I feel bad for putting off this review until now and I feel bad as well for the delay to Sarah Beth Durst for providing this fantastic fantasy novel for me to read and review last year. Now I can sway you lovely viewers of this astoundingly written world of Vessel.

Captivating and hot like the sands in the world of Vessel, I could not get enough of the essence of Liyana, a vessel for the goddess, and the hardships she has to endure after the failed attempt of completing her tribe's ritual. With not just her own goddess missing, but five other tribes as well and vessels that could be in danger because of the misplaced gods and goddesses, Liyana and the trickster god, Korbyn, journey across the desert to find and save the rest of the gods in order for prosperity to be restored to the lands and the tribes.

The world of Vessel flourished along the pages despite that the tribes are all becoming haggard without the essential human cravings that are needed to survive (i.e., water) in the desert terrain. The world-building was the most depth-defying element of this entire novel, with the mythology coming in with a close second. A desert whose inhabitants pray to the gods for rain, young and strong, perfected candidates prepped for the coming of the gods and taken away as vessels all for the survival of the other souls in their tribes--it's considered to be a huge title to be a vessel to the gods in Durst's novel. The chosen ones are viewed with pride and the saviors to their tribe, it is a privileged of the families to have given birth to these chosen children. They are to be fed properly, fit and in shape, no blemishes of the skin, no wounds, and never to exceed just the right amount of desert sun--they were to be the perfect hosts, pampered and respected. Anything less of perfect was unfit for a vessel chosen by the gods.

But being a vessel means sacrificing your life in order for the god of your tribe to bestow the magic needed so that the tribe can live. Liyana understood this notion in the beginning of the novel, ready to dance her life away so that Bayla, her goddess, can resume her role in the human world and bring down rain for her people. But sacrificing becomes questionable to Liyana after her tribe leaves her to fend for herself in the desert, basically die alone and believe that she is a failure of a vessel, as well as when Liyana meets the god Korbyn, Bayla's lover. Only, the heated ties towards Korbyn impede into her goddess's domain. Soon Liyana is left to struggle to live for herself or live for her goddess, even if that means not being able to live anymore. Even when she is falling for the god she can never have.

The struggle of the self within Liyana was what drove me positively wild throughout the entire novel. With the vessels that are picked up along the way, Raan was the one that I adored the most with her sassy comments and her dedication to being herself rather than a tool towards her tribe in order for them to survive while she has to perish from the world. Pia and Fennik, the other two vessels in the ever-growing band are devoted to losing their lives in order for the gods to have a body to live and walk along the sand. Raan just became the one character that I looked for during dialogue scenes, she just made the journey so much better for me.

Though, the unoriginal continuation of picking up one vessel after the next, having the scenes be the same though the group grew in numbers made the story drag and lag throughout the middle. It felt like I was playing the first Assassins' Creed game where I'd be doing the same missions in the same ways, going back and forth doing the same exact thing until I finally got to the boss battle--that being the King in the Crescent Empire in Vessel. If there was more variability in the encountering, greeting, and growth of Liyana's ostracized vessel group, it would have made for a much richer and eventful section of the novel.

Final Summation: Leaving you thirsty for more, Vessel becomes that well needed rain storm of a novel. With an enchanting plot and a complex idea surrounding whether it means more to survive and be who you are or to sacrifice yourself in order to save the ones that you love, Vessel is a journey that confronts those idea. The growth of the characters and the mystical world that Liyana is encompassed in, Vessel becomes a captivating read that brings to life a gorgeous world filled with timeless sands and powerful gods and goddesses needing the help of the very human hosts that they need to sacrifice in order to walk among the deserts once again.

First Line: On the day she was to die, Liyana walked out of her family's tent to see the dawn.
Story: S
Cover: S