‘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.

 

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Today I went to see Goodbye Christopher Robin in cinemas, which is about the life of the real Christopher Robin (referred to as Billy by those closest to him). Despite the fact that it was also about the origin of Winnie the Pooh (which I once chose as the wallpaper for my room), it was a very sad story in my opinion. It was about a boy who couldn’t really be himself because he had to always be Christopher Robin, not Billy. He was forced into the limelight and made to take pictures. He once even had to take a picture next to a bear!

After doing some research online, as well, I found that the story was even sadder than what was seen in the films. He grew to loathe his father and, although he visited him occasionally, I don’t think he ever forgave him. His mother refused to see him once he married his first cousin because she was on bad terms with her brother, and kept refusing to until the day she died. He also had a daughter with cerebral palsy and a heart abnormality, which ultimately cost her to die earlier than she should have, at the age of 56. I think this was probably linked to the fact he married a relative, as it is usually bad for the children’s health if you do so.

I had always had suspicions that the Winnie the Pooh characters were metaphors for mental illnesses, but after watching this film, I have come to the conclusion that they were emotions that A.A Milne felt when serving during the war. He obviously suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Although this was never mentioned, I think it makes sense, and is a clever way to address war in a subtle manner, as he always wanted to write something anti-war. He did eventually do a proper book on it, but before then, Winnie the Pooh was a way to express how he felt.

I really liked the film because it gave insight into the origins of a well-loved story, and I remember it being a big part of my childhood. It was still sad though, and Billy/Christopher Robin did get bullied for it at school, until he took up boxing. I think if his parents had shown more affection to him, maybe they wouldn’t have had such low relations later on in life. I think it is every child’s dream to be the main character in a book, but the fame that comes with it probably isn’t. It’s overwhelming and isolating. This film made that clear.

Thanks for reading!
Lia 

To The Girls Who Wear Glass Slippers

To the girls who wear glass slippers:
does the shoe fit?
Does it slide on gracefully, or did you have to sand your foot again and again – until the skin rubbed off – just to get it to slide in uncomfortably?
Is that glue I see, crushed into the slipper, so that your foot won’t hang out?
What’s that – rope? Tying your foot to it, are you?
It might be convenient to dig your foot into the first glass slipper you see, dear, but is your foot okay with it? Does it dangle or quench for air? Does it walk smoothly, without blisters?

To the girls who wear glass slippers:
don’t shape your foot. It isn’t clay.
There might be a prince around someday, a boy who passes you a glass slipper, and asks you to try it on. He might have the medals dangling around his neck, gold rings tightened to his fingers, money waddling around in his pocket – he might have all that, but if the shoe does not fit, then he is not a prince. He is merely an impostor; a concoction of stolen awards, gold paint, and forged money.

To the girls who wear glass slippers:
if the shoe fits, wear it.