cover image And the Ocean Was Our Sky

And the Ocean Was Our Sky

Patrick Ness, illus by Rovina Cai. HarperTeen, $19.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-06-286072-9

Like Melville’s Moby Dick, on which it is based, Ness’s profound tale is one of obsession and prophecy, with a twist—it’s told from the whale’s perspective. The narrative introduces readers to a flipped world in which a technologically advanced Cetacean society dominates the oceans. “Call me Bathsheba,” the whale narrator intones, recounting her pod’s ill-fated hunt for the mythical human killer of whales, Toby Wick (“Our devil. Our monster. Our myth”). Led by Captain Alexandra—the most storied of the captains, a harpoon buried in her head—Third Apprentice Bathsheba and the Alexandra’s other apprentices happen upon the wreck of a human ship. They find a single man alive, his hand protruding from the hull and clutching a disk (a message? a map?). Realizing they are on the trail of Toby Wick, the whales take the human hostage, then take to the hunt. In expansive illustrations by Cai (Tintinnula), rendered in inky washes and linework that mimics the ocean’s currents, the whales fly through the water, rendered above, not below, the air-filled “abyss” that humans inhabit. The whale epic, particularly Bathsheba’s discussions with the human hostage, mounts an exploration of inherited prejudices, violence justified, and the far-reaching consequences of war. Ages 13–up. [em]Author’s agent: Michelle Kass, Michelle Kass Assoc. (Sept.) [/em]