Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genres: fate vs. free will, the individual vs. the majority, gods and goddesses, desert survival
Summary: Liyana has trained her whole life to be a vessel for her clan's goddess. When her goddess doesn't come, Liyana's clan abandons her to the desert to find a more worthy vessel. Liyana then meets Korbyn, the trickster god, who claims that the gods are being trapped and Liyana must help him find them again. The longer Liyana goes without her goddess, the less she wants to give up her life just yet. But she might have to sacrifice herself to save her people.
Response: I don't know what I was expecting when I picked up this book. I only knew that I liked the author's previous novel, Ice .
I was really impressed by the complex world-building present in this novel. Focusing on the nomadic desert tribes and giving life to each clan's gods was really interesting. The other supernatural elements found in the desert like the giant silk/sand worms, the sandstorm wolves, the sky serpents, etc. added to the depth and detail of that world. I liked the foreign feel of the desert people. I don't think many YA authors take that route. It felt new and interesting.
Liyana was such a strong character. She has been raised her whole life for one purpose, to be the vessel for her goddess. After that time, she no longer exists. But when her goddess doesn't come, what then? Liyana suddenly has to live for herself, instead of just for her fate. She still considers others needs before her own, but that whole dilemma of the individual will versus the group good was just fascinating. And it wasn't just Liyana who had to deal with this dilemma, there were other abandoned vessels, each with varying degrees of acceptance of their fate. I loved that the author was able to explore so many perspectives to the same problem.
I didn't quite know how to take the ending. It was mostly satisfying, but I wonder if there will be more?
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