‘And The Ocean Was Our Sky’ by Patrick Ness [Spoiler-free Book Review]

“For who needs devils when you have men?”

And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness was very much inspired by Moby Dick, though you definitely do not need to have read the book or seen the movie to understand ATOWOS because it is a book in its own right.

The protagonist of the book, Bathsheba, is a whale. She is also a hunter; hunting humans, whilst they hunt whales. It has been this way for a while. This book follows her journey on the Alexandra (appropriately named after their captain) towards a goal that no whale or human has ever achieved before: defeating Toby Wick (yes, Toby Wick, great name, right?) despite the fact that they have no clue what or who Toby Wick is.

This book is also illustrated throughout — beautifully, I may add. The illustrations definitely add to the book and make the hard to imagine story just a little easier to envision.

ATOWOS is a very quick read, in my opinion. You should be done in a few days, if you don’t read it all in one go. Even though I finished it quickly, there is a lot of description that makes the world more real. I found myself trying harder to imagine a story than I ever have before (because how can you imagine whales going hunting?) but I liked the extra challenge. It made it all the more special when I did imagine it.

It’s a story not about friendship but about loyalty. The apprentices on the Alexandra will stick with the captain until the end. It’s pretty amazing what lengths they are willing to go to for the captain and I find myself envying such eternal loyalty. I’m not sure that many of us would be able to do what these whales did and not because we’re not whales but because of how much courage and determination it takes. Knowing that there’s a good chance you will fail, but doing it anyway because you believe in your captain.

If you read this book, I am sure that you will be mesmerised. It’s such an enthralling concept that you will not want to stop reading! Throughout the entire book, suspense will be at the forefront, as you race through the book to try and see whether they accomplish their goal or whether they fail. The hook will not leave until the last page.

I loved this book, and am an avid fan of Patrick Ness. Although it is not officially released yet, I really recommend you buy it when it is released in early September! You will not be disappointed.

 

Falling Sky [Short Story]

  This is a short story I wrote as potential coursework for Creative Writing. I don’t know if it’s good enough so I’m posting it here — to get advice. 🙂 

 When it first started falling, it was just flakes, like dandruff, and we didn’t really think much of it. It was blue; real blue, like the colour that rain is in picture books. When a piece hit me, it felt like rain too, merging with my skin, except it left a blue dot, as if it was paint from the sky. Other people around me looked up too and we all saw the exact places that these fragments had fallen from because they weren’t blue anymore. They were a new colour, one that I can’t describe because you’ve never seen it before. If I were to describe it, though, I’d say that it resembled crushed up souls blended with creamed eyeballs. It wasn’t a pretty colour. That’s why I didn’t look up again; the colour made me want to be sick.

When I got home, my mum was visibly shaking, screaming, shattering. Her arms were coated in blue, which I realised was the fallen sky, and she was curled in a ball.

“My head,” she whimpered, “it’s like a bomb’s exploded in it.” She could barely say the words, gasping often. I sat beside her, wrapping my arms around her.

“What’s happened?” I asked.

“I don’t know, it’s the sky — it was falling, it was falling, and now I’m in pain.”

This story of the sky falling quickly made headlines, and one of the articles that caught my interest the most was Sky Side-Effects? It talked about the health issues that people had been having since the sky started falling. It described an unknown illness where people exposed to too much sky were having similar symptoms to that of a brain tumour, except there wasn’t a tumour. It stated that a few had already died from this disease, which is when I started getting worried.

“Mum, how have your headaches been today?” was the first question I asked every evening when I got home from school (before it was closed because of the threats of going outside). She usually had three answers: “good, actually”, “not so good”, and “help, help, help”. I hadn’t liked to go to school whilst she was ill but she’d made me, telling me that my education was important. She didn’t know that she was endangering me at the time.

When the schools finally closed, I monitored my mum often, making charts assessing her condition. It was still only fragments falling at this stage — nothing too serious — and no one went outside anyway, unless they really had to, and if they did they wore protective clothing. Her condition hadn’t gotten any worse, in fact it had gotten better, and I had pinned this to the fact that she’d not gone outside for a while. She was safe, for now. I also checked the news regularly (I’d never been a fan of it before) to see any updates.

Then, when all the little fragments stopped falling, we thought it was over. We went outside and embraced the cold, something we’d never really done before.

It had been three days since the sky had stopped falling and I’d taken my mum out for the first time. She was still a little ill, very pale in the face, but her migraines had diminished to headaches. It was quite pretty when you looked up at the sky now; with it being grey (it was a bad weather day), the clouds being white, and then, where little fragments had fallen, you could see the new colour: peluvia. I don’t know how it came to be called that, some scientist or something, but I thought it was a prettier name than any of the other colours, despite the fact that the colour itself was not pretty.
My mum and I were staring up at the sky together, holding hands, when the ground first shook. It was like there was an earthquake but we’d never had one before. We didn’t rule it out, though, considering the recent events.

“Staying outside is probably best, if it’s an earthquake,” I told my mum.

“But what if it’s not? What if it’s–” And then I could see the fear in her eyes become a reality as the ground stopped shaking, and the sky started falling. All of it. Not little flakes. Nowhere to run, hide. We’d survived this long; it wasn’t fair.

“Go inside. Now!” I yelled, pushing her weak body into the kitchen. I figured that if the sky was going to fall, it might not get to our ground floor. That was our best chance at surviving it.

I shielded her, she shielded me; it wasn’t much use really, but it was all we could do. I heard the sound of the roof breaking, the stairs crumbling, ceilings cracking. Then, it all fell down, and all I saw was dust in my eyes.

I think I died, then; I’m not sure how long after, but I did die eventually. I don’t know whether my mum died — I don’t want to think about that. I don’t want to think about anything from the past anymore. I just want to fall, like the sky; instead of sitting at the top of it, watching it fall in front of my eyes, without being able to do anything. Because, once the sky gets you completely, you’re the one pushing it — there’s nothing you can do. You have to. Or you’ll become a part of the new sky.

Thank you for reading this,

Lia