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.
*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