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Ship of Souls [Kindle Edition]

Zetta Elliott
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When Dmitri, an eleven-year-old bird-watcher and math whiz, loses his mother to breast cancer, he is taken in by Mrs. Martin, an elderly white woman. Unaccustomed to the company of kids his own age, D struggles at school and feels like an outcast until a series of unexpected events changes the course of his life.

First, D is asked to tutor the school’s basketball star, Hakeem, who will get benched unless his grades improve. Against the odds, the two boys soon realize they have something in common: they are both taunted by kids at school, and they both have a crush on Nyla, a beautiful but fierce eighth-grade girl. Then Nyla adopts D and invites him to join her entourage of “freaks.” Finally, D discovers an injured bird and brings it home from the park.

D is stunned when the strange bird speaks to him and reveals that she is really a guiding spirit that has been held hostage by ghost soldiers who died in Brooklyn at the start of the American Revolution. As Nuru’s chosen host, D must carry her from Brooklyn to the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan, but the ghost soldiers won’t surrender their prize without a fight.

With the help of Hakeem and Nyla, D battles the Nether Beings who lurk underground, feeding off centuries of rage and pain. But it takes an unexpected ally to help the trio reach the ship that will deliver the innocent souls of the dead back to Nuru’s realm. An urban fantasy infused with contemporary issues and historical facts, Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott will keep teen readers gripped until the very end.

Editorial Reviews Review

Selected as a Booklist Top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Youth Title

From School Library Journal

Gr 6-8-Dmitri (D), an 11-year-old African American boy, has had a rough start to his short life. Raised and homeschooled in New York City by his protective mother, D has never known his father and has not had many friends. When his mother dies of cancer, D is sent to foster care and enrolled in public school. His foster mother is a kind elderly white woman who is preoccupied with fostering a crack-addicted baby. D finds a home in middle school with the math club, where he excels. He becomes friendly with Nyla, a beautiful eighth grade girl with multiple piercings, and Hakeem, a Muslim basketball player. D finds an injured bird, Nuru, who is actually a mystical being charged with rescuing the trapped souls of dead African American soldiers from the Revolutionary War. When he tries to help Nuru with his mission, D is attacked by Nether Beings, and the three friends begin a dangerous adventure to the African Burial Grounds in lower Manhattan and into the realm of the dead. Benjamin L. Darcie's narration is spot-on, and he does an especially great job of capturing the frustrated voice of Hakeem, upset at being called a terrorist because of his religious beliefs. Elliott's urban fantasy (AmazonEncore, 2012) presents historical facts and touches on many contemporary issues such as poverty, war, and racism.-Julie Paladino, East Chapel Hill High School, NCα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Product Details

  • File Size: 334 KB
  • Print Length: 141 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape (February 28, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005Y0BYA6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,861 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but lacking April 8, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I don't usually read young adult books, but decided to take a chance when offered the book by the publisher. Ship of Souls is a short book, only 120 pages in print. The author starts with a good premise. We are introduced to D, aka Dmitri, an 11 year-old boy who has recently lost his mother to cancer, been placed in foster care and starts a new school. D is a good kid, polite to his elders and a math whiz. When he is asked to tutor the school's top basketball player, he meets Keem and then Nyla, a tough young girl with loads of self-confidence. The three of them quickly form a friendship. That friendship is tested when D is chosen as a host for a strange bird with an agenda.

While I did enjoy reading how the author wove the history of the African Burial Ground into this paranormal story, I didn't believe some of the reactions from the kids. It seems like they take all the strange events of glowing/talking birds, a rock monster and being pulled into an underground realm of supernatural, with ease/acceptance instead of being terrified. There was a lot of buildup to the finale which was over much too quickly. Ms. Elliott has a good imagination, but this story left me flat and wondering, "Is that all?"

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is very promising, but I will confess right upfront I was disappointed in its lack of depth. It isn't that I was expecting an adult book, as I recently finished Ship Breaker, another young adult novel. It wasn't that the world wasn't realistic; I could clearly picture all the locations although I've never been to Brooklyn. It wasn't that the characters weren't intriguing, they were. The book just ended too quickly. The mystery had a long build-up, all during which I was interested, and then it ended so fast I didn't know what happened. I actually paged back to see if I had skipped a few pages in my reading. It just all tied up too quickly and easily, which seems to be like a new author's mistake. I think there is a lot of promise in this author and I'd like to see what else she produces.

It is great to read a fantasy novel with non-traditional characters. Without coming across as forced, the author managed to incorporate a great deal of diversity - not just that the characters were people of color - they also included an orphan, a Muslim, and a really interesting "alternative" girl (she denied being a goth but you get the idea.) It would be cool if it brought the genre exposure outside of its normal readers. The characters were actually great and I bet the author could turn this into a series. It would be - like so many series - the sort of thing where people say "You've got to read X - only the first book isn't really good."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Needs more...everything April 13, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I loved the idea behind Ship of Souls, however I thought the author did little to develop it properly, thus leaving the impression of a story that merely scratches the surface of a really good tale. I found the writing to be flat and uninspired, and the plot to be muddled in spots and cliche ridden in others. I enjoyed D as a character, but more attention needed to paid to all the other characters in the book so they could break free of their stereotypes. The dialogue was often stilted and I often found myself wishing for more- more descriptions, more information, more emotions, more finesse - just more of everything that could have helped this story flow smoothly and create some actual suspense amidst what could have been some very exciting adventure.

This is a very short tale that might find a home among young adult reluctant readers, although I think even they will find themselves ultimately unsatisfied.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story but a bit short January 28, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a very good story. It has supernatural elements, it has a spunky kid and it has history. All of this lends itself to a great story. We meet a young man whose mom has died and has been put into the system. He is living with a foster mom when something strange happens. He meets a talking bird who wants him to do something for him. We follow the tale to its conclusion and here is where I have my only complaint, the story is to short and is a very short read.

That being said, it is the perfect length for young readers. If you are not a young reader then you will wonder what the heck just happened. It just started and now it is over.

Anyway, give it a chance, you will enjoy it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Underdeveloped March 12, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
The book is entertaining and has a very interesting premise but falls short on details, plot and length. As other reviewers mentioned there is a long build up and then all of a sudden the story is ending. Some of the character details don't seem very well thought out - e.g. the relationship between the three main characters seemed a bit forced. The plot lacks tension and scenes seem to drift from one to the other. I think if you've got nothing much else to read and want to kill some time this book would fit the bill. I do hope the author continues to write and develops further.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, somewhat incomplete but enjoyable April 12, 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Zetta Elliot's "Ship of Souls" has strengths and weakness. To me, the strengths outweigh the weaknesses.

The strength of the story about a young man who has recently lost his mother and is now in a foster home is that the characters, particularly the lead Dimitri (or D as he is called) is specifically and realistically drawn.

D is of mixed background but as he relates, his mother says that he is black so we'll take her word for it. He doesn't know his father and that angle sort of drops from the story even if it still plays a part of D's character. His mother was his best friend and her loss haunts him as he struggles to find a place in the world.

He lives in Brooklyn with his foster mother. A kindly white woman named Mrs Martin who he says remained in her neighborhood even as her white neighbors moved out and middle class black neighbors moved in.

It should be noted that race does play a part in this YA novel. It is touched and bounced off yet it tries to find a balance that the issue is more complex.

At school, he becomes tutor to Hakeem, a prize basketball player who is college minded, and a friend to Nyla, a beautiful Bohemian of sorts who was raised by her Army father in Europe but finds Brooklyn to be the best place.

The magic takes form of a spirit bird named Nuru who needs D to be her host so she can guide the dead souls to the next realm. There is some not so good ghosts who are rebelling. One group that dwells in the park are revolutionary soldiers who haven't found peace and don't seem to want to.

Again, the strength of the novel is its characters and the uncompromising way they are unique yet somehow realistic. The resentment is no more over the top than any kind of preaching. They just are who they are.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Quick read
Good book
Published 9 months ago by Amber N. Hoffmeister
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it
Ai overall felt it was a good read, fast paced and enjoyable fantasy. It was well written and had interesting characters
Published 11 months ago by Cynthia P
4.0 out of 5 stars A Passage Beyond
Realistic characters, fantastic imaginative mission.

Our main character is D, who is an orphan after his mother died of cancer. Read more
Published 13 months ago by MartyReads
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I would recommend this book to anyone. It was also exciting and mysterious in the latter chapters.
Thanks to the author.
Published 16 months ago by Teamas
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend!
First, it was great seeing a diverse cast of characters. Not only are they friends but the three of them also work together to overcome adversity. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Wendy L. Hines
2.0 out of 5 stars Uneven fantasy with diverse cast of characters
I like reading in my comfort zone. And my comfort zone usually means strong women in fantasy. However, I also try to stretch myself, to read something that will introduce me to... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Cecelia Larsen
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and thought provoking
I enjoyed Ship of Souls. I thought that the author did a great job of creating a main character who quickly worms his way into our hearts. Read more
Published on May 7, 2013 by Kindle Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Well-intentioned, but far too heavy-handed.
This was a well-intentioned novel with a decently evocative sense of place that I found unfortunately too heavy-handed to be enjoyable to read. Read more
Published on April 24, 2013 by PhoenixFalls
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I liked the creativity and the lesson it told. I was action packed and had a good meaning. I recommend this book to people who want some new books to read and have a tender heart.
Published on January 22, 2013 by E.Yribarren
3.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get into it
I didn't really know what this book was about when I bought it. It was a buck. Tried several times and just couldn't get into it.
Published on January 17, 2013 by Amazon Customer
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More About the Author

Born in Canada, Zetta Elliott moved to Brooklyn in 1994 to pursue her PhD in American Studies at NYU. Her poetry has been published in several anthologies, and her plays have been staged in New York, Chicago, and Cleveland. Her essays have appeared in Horn Book Magazine, School Library Journal, and The Huffington Post. Her first picture book, BIRD, won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books' New Voices Contest; it was named Best of 2008 by Kirkus Reviews, a 2009 ALA Notable Children's Book, and BIRD won the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. Elliott's first young adult novel, A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT, has been called "gripping," "a revelation...vivid, violent and impressive history." SHIP OF SOULS was published in February 2012; it was included in Booklist's Top Ten Sci-fi/Fantasy Titles for Youth and was a finalist for the 2013 Phillis Wheatley Award. Her latest novel, THE DEEP, was released in November 2013. She has published several illustrated books under her own imprint, Rosetta Press. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

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