Release Date: September 11th, 2012
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry 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. For 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.
Review: Vessel was wildly imaginative, atmospheric in its scope and had just the right amount of adventure and suspense that I had to keep going to find out what was going to happen!
First and foremost, I loved the vivid world that Durst created for this book: you could literally feel the sand beneath Liyana's feet as she trekked across the desert and hear the howls of the sand wolves as they attacked. The different cultures of the clans and their mutual agreement that one of their own must be sacrificed so that their gods can walk the physical realm as well as The Dreaming (which is the equivalent to the afterlife)...all these little details built up to create an arresting and beautiful framework for the story. I was entranced. Seriously.
Then the characters. Despite that this was written in third person, I felt a strong connection to Liyana and the rest of the cast. I was especially fond of some of the other vessels from the other clans that Liyana encounters on her journey. They were all embodiments of their respective clans and initially there was a lot of fighting about what had to be done but life-or-death situations can really make people grow closer ;P There were moments where the danger subsided and Liyana and her gang would have funny, heartfelt moments that brought a smile to my face. These moments were few but they were a small and much appreciated reprieve for the characters. Durst made life hard for her characters and I appreciated that because nothing came easy for Liyana and her friends. They weren't able to sacrifice their bodies for their gods but they ended up putting more on the line than anyone ever expected. I respect an author that doesn't baby her characters and puts them in situations where they must question everything.
However, there was one aspect of the story that I felt was a little off. There is some hint of a romance between Liyana and Korbyn and I was hoping for something but then things went in another direction because of some new elements being introduced. I could understand the why behind these new turn of events but I still felt a little misled with that. And the epilogue was a tad bit rushed as a consequence of those new elements but the story ended on such a hopeful note that I ended being okay with it ultimately. I was left wanting more but in a good way.
Final Verdict: I was hooked from the beginning and although I had a minor issue with the romantic aspect of the story and the slightly rushed ending, overall I found Sarah Beth Durst's Vessel to be an amazing novel. Its adventerous charm coupled with brilliant writing will convince readers of fantasy that there still are solid and well-written stand-alones that exist in this genre. Gorgeously crafted and rich with bold imagination, Vessel is sure to entrance readers with the story of one girl who must set out to find her own destiny now that the one she expected has been snatched away from her.