Home > Katy's Korner > Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

September 16, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

by Sarah Beth Durst


By: Sarah Beth Durst

Release Date: September 11, 2012

Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary:  In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love.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: I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I really liked the story because it was unique and thought provoking. On the other hand, I felt the story progression kind of dragged, and I really didn’t connect with any of the characters – with the exception of Raan – until the last part of the book.

I was really impressed with the world Durst has created. The concept of training your whole life to be worthy as a vessel and sacrificing your life for the gods is beyond intriguing. And each clan had its own characteristic symbolic for their namesake animal, for them to all come together and set aside their differences for a common cause was truly admirable. On top of that, I liked that Durst didn’t try to go TOO far-fetched. “Magic isn’t about miracles. All we do is speed up or slow down what happens naturally.”

And I liked how Durst threw in little fables and anecdotes to explain why things are – the story of the sun and the moon compromising and creating an island for the turtle people, the raven’s trickery, even the horrible spider story. I admit, I didn’t get them at first and thought a lot of the stories were irrelevant, especially when Korbyn and Liyana were sharing to fill the silence on their journey. But it was nice to see how the pieces all fell into place and how the stories truly were symbolic, as such with the story about the raven compromising with the moon.

HOWEVER, the pacing was kind of slow, and I struggled a bit instead of being sucked into the story. In fantasy stories, I’m usually intrigued by the adventures they have on their journey, and for some reason, in this book, the story just kind of dragged as we move from clan to clan and then to beyond (I didn’t want to spoil the story). The story didn’t really blow me away until the last 10 percent or so with the big twist. 

And there were SO many inconsistencies in the book. For example, the beginning felt a bit weird because the Goat Clan had been at this settlement for a certain amount of time, and I didn’t get the feeling that the people were in any danger (other than the drought) or that they were constantly being attacked by nature. But left alone, Liyana was immediately attacked by a cobra, the sand wolf (which was totally weird) and other harsh conditions. You would think that Bayla was trying to punish her, but no. Or, where was everyone else during the sandstorm in Chapter 17? And there were some sentences that just threw me off like “Pia’s voice sounded as thought he slaughtered a kitten for dinner.” This is coming from a girl whose singsong voice is sweet and beautiful.

And the romance was really weird in this book. For those who HAVE to have romance in their books, yes there is romance. However, ummm, how do I explain this without spoiling it? Yes, there was a triangle, kind of, well, there were actually kind of three triangles involving one person, I guess? I’m not sure how to explain it. I guess you just have to read the book. But the romance doesn’t drive the book, which I guess it is a good thing because there’s more substance to the plot than just the romance, but at the same time, I found myself kind of annoyed whenever there WAS romance. 

Like I said, I didn’t START connecting with the characters until probably the last third of the book. I didn’t really think they grew as the story developed – again with the exception of Raan – until near the very end, and by then, it was more than expected. Liyana possessed a lot of strength and was brave to just march up to people and demand their attention. But for some reason, I felt Liyana lacked “character” and was kind of flat, and she didn’t make much of an impression on me to where I will probably easily forget her. And Korbyn was an oddball. I usually like people with weird personalities to set them apart, but there was just something about him that was awkward and didn’t sit well with me.

I thought the book’s strongest character was Raan, and I’m disappointed that she was the “youngest” character, being the last to be introduced in the book. I felt she was far more interesting and had far more layers and developed so much more as a character than anyone else – with her resistance to become the vessel, her temper tantrum and attempted escapes, what the Falcon Clan did to her and her struggles with Maara.

And the end was expected and predictable, but that doesn’t make it less good.

Overall, I thought the story was pretty great. But the pacing, the lack of memorable characters and too many inconsistencies kept me from giving this book a higher rating.

Go to Katy’s review on Goodreads.

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