“You do not say no to the girl with the deities.”
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Source: Barnes and Noble
Rating: 3 Stars
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.
Vessel had the potential to be an exceptionally good read. It really, really did. And while I still think it is a beautifully written standalone, there were many places where it just fell flat for me.
Durst does a fantastic job at painting a truly vivid picture of living a harsh nomadic life in the desert. As I was reading, I would get the clearest picture of the glass dragons streaking across the sky or the way the bells woven into Liyana's braids would chime as she danced. There are very few authors who have been able to bring their descriptions to life in such a way and I applaud Durst for her ability to get her point across without being overly flowery or poetic.
The plot itself was highly original, but fizzled out with no direction or well-developed characters to push it forward. I'm not going to lie, the pacing of the book dragged, to the point where I almost DNF-ed. There was very little to keep my interest until the last 100 pages or so, and even then I was quite unimpressed by the 'resolution' we were finally given. The majority of the book is spent travelling across the desert and convincing the vessels from each clan to join Korbyn and Liyana in saving the kidnapped gods. The lengthy descriptions of riding across the desert on horseback were uneventful and entirely unnecessary, if you ask me.
“Imagine that it's sugar," Korbyn said. 'You're riding across candy.'
"Salt can never be sugar," Fennik said.
"We should talk about the definition of the word 'imagine'.”
In fact, the only redeeming quality to the unexplored plotline would be the trickster god, Korbyn. With a sense of humor as sharp as a tack and a wicked streak a mile wide, he reminded me very much of his Norse counterpart, Loki. He managed to keep the dull moments between the action interesting with his jokes and fables (all of which were fascinating in themselves).
The rest of the bunch, Liyana included, felt one dimensional to me. We are given this group of what could have been such a diverse cast of characters, but unfortunately, they all felt like carbon copies of one another. You would think someone who has been told they must die in order for their god/goddess to live would do something other than mildly question their situation once and then ultimately accept their fate with what essentially equates to an emotional shrug, right?
It isn't until Liyana falls for Korbyn that she even remotely begins to question her existence and whether or not she actually wants to sacrifice herself for her goddess, Bayla. This definitely rubbed me the wrong way because she should have chose to live for her own self and not because some cute boy bats his pretty browns at her.
Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about Vessel. On one hand, the descriptions and the fables woven into the story were enough to keep my interest until the end. However, the one-dimensional characters and stagnant plot were ultimately what prompted me to give such a lukewarm rating.