Only Patrick Ness could successfully pull off a story described as Moby Dick from the point of view of the whale. Imaginative, beautifully written and visually stunning, I very much enjoyed this.
With harpoons strapped to their backs, the proud whales of Bathsheba’s pod live for the hunt, fighting in the ongoing war against the world of men. When they attack a ship bobbing on the surface of the Abyss, they expect to find easy prey. Instead, they find the trail of a myth, a monster, perhaps the devil himself…
As their relentless Captain leads the chase, they embark on a final, vengeful hunt, one that will forever change the worlds of both whales and men.
Wow. That was unexpected and brilliant.
I have to confess that while I do consider Ness one of my favourite authors I went into this a little warily. His books while always wonderfully imaginative can be a little hit or miss for me and this one, like his previous book Release (which was a miss for me), had some not so favourable reviews.
Thankfully though this was a great, albeit fast, read. Ness has used his incredible imagination and beautiful writing to transform a story that shouldn’t work, Moby Dick from the POV of the whale, into something that does.
It did take me a little while to really understand the world these whales inhabit, and I’m still not sure I can visualize whales with underwater ships of their own, using harpoons and hunting humans, but I loved the idea of it and the symbolism behind it.
As you would expect the writing is engaging and the illustrations accompanying it are perfect. It is told from the point of view of one of the whales which makes for an interesting and different experience but I felt that actually for a whale they were oddly relateable. I also really loved how Ness brought in the human perspective via Demetrius.
My only criticism and the reason this is a 4 star rather than 5 for me is that I didn’t feel much. There are moments that come close and I did care about the characters but it didn’t quite have the emotional impact I was hoping for.
I did however love the story and the themes running throughout around prophecy and the way that war and violence create monsters.
I would highly recommend to fans of Ness and those who like unique and imaginative stories.
My rating: 4 of 5 star
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