Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Ship of Souls Paperback – February 28, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $0.99 (Save 50%). Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Top customer reviews
Our main character is D, who is an orphan after his mother died of cancer. His foster mother is good to him, but D is lonely, especially when his foster mom takes in a very high-maintenance infant ('crack baby'.) D makes his first friend, pleasant, fun, Nyla who is also beautiful. wisdom.
D is great at math, and is hired to tutor one of the most popular kids at school, Hakeem. Hakeem's love is basketball, and he has his eye on Nyla. Neither guy complains when she decides she likes being friends with both of them. Now D's adventures include his friends.
He shows them his biggest secret: a bird that isn't a bird -- it can talk, take on different shapes, and has a lot of wisdom. The bird is here to help the GOOD African souls of soldiers of the civil war home to their resting place. Before that can happen, the ANGRY souls take an interest in D, so Nyla and Hakeem become key to D's survival and the "bird's" successful mission.
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."
D is an orphan. When his foster mother takes in a baby that needs extra attention, D feels bereft and begins to spend his time in the park looking at birds. One day, he discovers a magical bird that leads him on an amazing journey into the past.
What I liked:
The characters are extremely likeable and relatable. My favorite was Nyla. She was smart, independent and funny. The plot itself is very original. This took me to a time and place in both the present and in history that were relatively foreign to me. The author has a good sense of place and setting. Everything was so incredibly vivid.
What I didn't care for:
At times, the author had a little trouble suspending my sense of disbelief. The book lost its sense of realness. The kids never really seemed to have realistic reactions to what was going on around them. At the age of 11, if a bird in a park starts glowing and having a conversation with you, a child is going to be shocked, disbelieving and a bit awestruck. D just seemed to take things as a matter of course. Later in the book, D is called by a particularly nasty racial slur. The use of the slur fits the situation in which it's used, but it should come across as jarring and hurtful. D doesn't have any reaction at all.
In addition, there's a problem with voice. The kids, while likeable and just really nice kids, don't speak like kids at all. As an example, if my 12-year-old nephew ever described something to me as looking like a "sea of grief", I would look at him like's he crazy. The language used just doesn't fit ordinary children.
At times, the author's voice intrudes. Example - Keem goes on a harangue about how Muslims are treated in America. Although I agree with the sentiment, this has absolutely nothing to do with the story and should have been left out entirely.
There is some attempt to put the "urban" in "urban fantasy" by talk of crack babies and prison, but that's unimportant window dressing that has nothing to do with the story.
As a parent, I actually thought the parts about the crack babies and prison were unnecessary and a bit much for an 11-year-old (I, for one, do not want to explain to my nephew what happens when you drop the soap in a men's prison). As for the use of racial slurs in the book, although used appropriately, they are not used effectively. If you are going to use them, you should give a sense of the horror they should inspire and this book doesn't. You might end up having to explain a bit to your child after reading.
I give the book lots of points for plot, originality, and a very likeable cast of characters. Though the majority of characters in the book are African American, this is a book that will appeal to kids of any ethnicity. The kids are simply relatable and any reader will learn a little something about an interesting and dark time in American history.
However, the problems the author had in sustaining a sense of realness (even in Fantasy, the reader must believe while reading), makes it impossible for me to raise this one above 3 stars.