Thursday, March 7, 2013

Diverse Reads: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

I wish I had loved Vessel. It has such promise: an evocative desert landscape, a strong female character, a culture steeped in storytelling, thought-provoking themes. And I love the premise and all the questions it raises. Liyana is prepared to sacrifice her own life for her goddess and the good of her clan--in fact, she's prepared for this since childhood. But when her goddess doesn't appear, it's up to Liyana herself to save her people.
Except I never connected with Lyana, or any of the other characters. She was so brave and smart, but because she didn't seem to have any human weaknesses, I never saw myself in her.

That said, I loved how Durst handled diversity in Vessel. Liyana's dark skin didn't stand out. All of the desert people were dark-skinned, it was part of the world, part of the story. Also, unbeknownst to me when I started reading, one of the other characters is blind, and that was handled masterfully. Her blindness is hardly relevant and never considered a disability until an encounter with an outsider. I can't say anymore without major spoilers, but the whole ensuing discussion was provocative.

I enjoyed Vessel, and certainly ripped through the end, anxious to discover what would happen. And even if most of the characters have already vanished from my mind, the world and its premise was so fascinating, I know it will sit with me a long time. 

While February has come and gone, I still have a few diverse reads sitting at the top of my tottering to-read pile. I will be away next week, but hope to return later in March with more reviews of those I enjoyed, along with my regular exhilarating programing. Stay tuned!

4 comments:

  1. I love how blindness and ethnicity aren't an issue here, but I do care that characters are relatable. Still, this sounds like a fantastic book.

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    1. Yeah, really mixed feelings, as you may have been able to tell! I did read the entire thing and enjoyed it, but... *sigh* I don't want to dissuade you from it; it's gotten lots of great, even starred reviews, and maybe something about the characters will capture your imagination.

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  2. Vessel doesn't sound like a book I would normally read (although I'm reading a few of those right now). Sometimes it's nice to break away from the norm. Still, this one doesn't quite tempt me enough. Thanks for sharing this review, Anne.

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    1. You're welcome, Ruth. Isn't it funny, those books that sound so perfect for us, and sometimes aren't, and those books that are totally not us, and yet sometimes we fall in love anyway? Magical, all around.

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