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Vessel Hardcover – September 11, 2012

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 630L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442423765
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442423763
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-Once each century, the desert deities inhabit the bodies of human vessels, bringing health and prosperity to their tribes. Liyana has trained all her life for this honor. But when she fails to summon her goddess, her tribe abandons her lest she bring them misfortune. She is rescued by trickster god Korbyn, who informs her that five gods are missing. Joined by three other vessels, Liyana and Korbyn set out to rescue them from an ambitious emperor who hopes to use the captive deities to gain control over the desert and its people. To do so, Liyana must defy taboo by learning magic. She must also confront the emperor himself if she hopes to save her friends, her people, and her gods from an uncertain fate. But can she do so without sacrificing herself? Durst has crafted a unique fantasy world populated with dangerous creatures and strong characters and woven together with magic. Liyana's inner struggle between upholding tradition and her own desire to live is obvious throughout. However, the third-person narrative gives her plight a somewhat detached feel. Additionally, the plot moves slowly at times. Nevertheless, the story is solid and will appeal to fans of romantic fantasy.-Alissa J. Bach, Oxford Public Library, MIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Liyana is a vessel, the chosen one, nurtured, trained, and offered up by her clan for a great honor: giving her life so their goddess, Bayla, may return to earth to inhabit her body. But the goddess does not return. At the end of her day of sacrifice, Liyana is still alive, her clan having left her alone, disgraced, and in grave danger in the desert. Vessel is the read-alike for your Hunger Games–obsessed teens. From the quest to find the other clans’ spurned vessels, to the two attractive love interests, to the intelligent, independent young heroine, this folkloric fantasy, while harkening to that ever-popular novel and movie, is unique in its own web of clever, complex characters and attention-absorbing adventure. Its setting alone is so vital that it becomes another character, a part of the action. Readers will feel the desert heat, the earth-numbing droughts, the vicious sandstorms and resulting sandwolves, and the bizarre sensations of a goddess living within the body of its human vessel. Brilliantly riveting, Vessel’s only disappointment is its single volume, a fate that relegates Liyana, her lovers, and her friends to their own vessel, a single book. Grades 7-12. --Frances Bradburn

Customer Reviews

There's a great main protagonist and other notable characters, a good plot, and great writing.
A journey both physical and spiritual, that will make Liyana question her readiness to give up her life.
Evie Seo
By the end of the book I wasn't really happy but it made sense so it didn't ruin the book for me.
Alaiel Kreuz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Evie Seo TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Gorgeously imagined world with rich and flavourful cultural tapestry, characters you will root for, a seemingly impossible quest of epic proportions, and a conclusion that will leave you breathless and heartbroken - Vessel has all that and more! This sweeping tale mixes adventure, romance, drama and enough eye-popping sorcery to earn this book a place on every fantasy fan's shelf. It's definitely one of 2012 must-reads!

Once every hundred years, the goddess of the Goat Clan (Bayla) is summoned from the dreaming to ensure that her clan survives the next century. Her soul fills a human body - a vessel - to work the magic that brings rain to the dessert, increase the herds and make the oasis green again. Without the help of her magic, people wouldn't be able to survive in the ruthless, desolate desert that is their homeland.

For centuries, people of the dessert have been summoning gods and goddesses and for centuries they've been following the same sacred ritual: the dreamwalk would chose the vessel for the goddess, preparations would be made and, finally, the ceremony would take place during which the goddess would take over the vessel's body, killing the vessel's soul in the process. Chosen to be Bayla's vessel, Liyana is ready for her sacrifice. For years she's been training in preparations for this moment. The goddess does not come, though, and Liyana - accused of being unworthy of the deity - is abandoned by her clan and left to die alone in the dessert. Heartbroken and desperate, she is found by Korbyn (a trickster god inside of his vessel), who tells her that her goddess did not, in fact, abandon her, but was captured and imprisoned. And five other gods shared her fate.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By SavyLeArtist on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wow. WOW. I...where do I even begin?

This is the crowning glory of Sarah's career. By far the greatest novel she's ever written. How can I even begin to talk about it? This is Sabriel levels of good, on a whole other playing field from Y.A.; just a pure fantasy adventure.
Let me put it this way: I only have two days off from work and sleep is precious to me. I stayed up until 5 am until I had finished this book, crying, laughing and nail biting all the way.


There's honestly no good way to begin, besides READ THIS BOOK. Liyanna, thank god, is not your typical world weary, hardened heroine that's really just a boy character in a girl's body that has ~extra emotions~. Liyanna is just a girl, practical and strong--but you discover this strength over the course of the book. It's so beautiful that you can watch how this girl turns from vessel and master over the novel's story. It's coming of age that rattle's her entire country. Slipping into her voice is just like waking up, as if she's not a character anymore, but your friend sitting right beside you and telling you of this adventure she had many moons ago. In the end, when she finally takes true charge of her own fate, it isn't droll and self righteous, making you sigh at this Sarah Conner knock off. It feels exactly like watching Bruce Wayne climb out of the pit of darkness.

It's magnificent.

She doesn't have to break tradition and give her history, religion and culture a big middle finger to "find her own strength". Those things are her strength. She continually has respect for them, even if she must defy them. She's so completely and utterly human, she lives and breathes right off the page.

And Korbyn.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lili's Reflections on July 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
After reading this book, I'm kicking myself due to the fact that I have never read anything by Sarah Beth Durst before. She caught my attention with the opening line and had me captivated until the last word on the very last page. I'm not going to re-summarize the book because the premise above was unbelievably spot-on, so instead I'm just going to share my favorite aspects of the novel.

The setting of this book and the way it mixes with the plot completely blew me away. This book took place entirely in a desert, so the attention to the detail that went into describing Liyana's home and surroundings completely blew me away. I'm seriously at a loss for words. The incorporation of mythology and usage of gods was mesmerizing. I couldn't get enough of Korbyn.

The romance in this book was incredibly interesting as well. Korbyn is the trickster god that realized several other gods including his beloved Bayla were kidnapped and imprisoned somewhere in the east. He entered his vessel and began hunting down other vessels and that is when he came across Liyana. Liyana is the vessel for Bayla, but he can't help the fact that she is an amazing girl that commands his respect. When Bayla finds a way to communicate with Liayana and Korbyn, you can imagine the antics that ensue.

However, I have to say that the aspect of the novel that I enjoyed most was the characterization. Liyana was such a strong heroine that I couldn't help but respect her. She's dedicated, determined, and loyal. When she believed her goddess abandoned her, she still did everything in her power to help her in case she needed it. The secondary characters were amazing as well. Korbyn was very enjoyable, but you'll find that all of the other vessels will find a place in your heart as well.
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More About the Author

Sarah Beth Durst is the author of eight fantasy novels for teens and adults. Her YA titles include CONJURED, VESSEL, DRINK SLAY LOVE, ENCHANTED IVY, ICE, OUT OF THE WILD, and INTO THE WILD. Her first book for adults, THE LOST, came out in June 2014 from Harlequin/Mira, and her next book for teens, CHASING POWER, comes out in October 2014 from Bloomsbury. Sarah was awarded the 2013 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature and has been a finalist for SFWA's Andre Norton Award three times. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband and children. For more information, visit her at

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