- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 - 9
- 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: 52 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,080,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Vessel Hardcover – September 11, 2012
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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
Top customer reviews
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Liyana has prepared for her whole life to be the Vessel of Bayla. She has been fed, clothed, and protected to provide the perfect Vessel for Bayla, and on the day of Bayla’s summoning, the goddess will take the body of her Vessel while Liyana’s soul will be forced from her body to return to the Dreaming. Liyana does not fear her death, for it will assure the survival of her clan.
But when the summoning is done, Liyana still lives . . . the goddess did not come.
Fearing a curse, Liyana’s clan leaves her with the bare necessities of survival and vanishes into the desert.
Alone, Liyana faces an uncertain fate until a young man appears out of the desert. He is Korbyn, the avatar of a trickster god who brings the news that several of the gods have gone missing, and that Liyana and he must find the other Vessels and seek out the trapped gods.
Beyond the desert, the young emperor of the Crescent Empire seeks the survival of his people in the form of a lake, seen only in a dream.
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.
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.
Korbyn already in the body of his vessel, Korbyn the trickster god. Yeah, he's handsome, but that fact is thrown aside fairly quickly to get to his amazing personality. He's much more than than the comic relief, even if his struggle is revealed rather late in the plot. He bring light to this fairly brutal and savage world where everyone is starving and slowly dying of thirst because of the lack of gods. You fall in love with him immediately, there's no question about it. You will love him and want him with Liyanna.
And the emperor.
He and Liyanna share the same dilemma: They both have their destinies placed before them and must risk it all to save their people. Liyanna to save her tribe and the other tribes of the desert, The Emperor to save his kingdoms.
This is also the only book where I actually believe the love "triangle". Where I actually believes that Liyanna loved Korbyn and the other suitor who presents himself. Instead of acting like an indecisive twit, she puts aside her growing affections and deep love to focus on her quest to save her world (something you hardly ever seen in Y.A. books.)
This added with the fellowship of amazing characters (all whom are also empty vessels) makes this novel a journey that will suck you in so deep, you will actually be able to feel the hot sand beneath your feet, crying and laugh with these new friends and face the question they all must ask: Is it worth to sacrifice one life to save a tribe?
Is there truly a way to save the desert, and stay alive?
Officially my best book of the year and an automatic add to my favorite's shelf
I'm not going to repeat the plot synopsis. Suffice to say, Sarah Beth Durst paints a world that is beautifully realised, from its peoples to its cultures and customs, inhabited by characters who feel fully fleshed out. Even the supporting cast of companions is well thought out. You never feel like they are inconsequential to the story. With some books (not naming names), the evolution of the protagonist from helpless girl to heroine feels forced and abrupt -- you are conscious of the artificial construct of the plot. With Liyana and Korbyn, you are with them every step of their physical and emotional journey such that the development of their relationship feels real. The ending is not what you would expect, and yet it's also oddly fitting.
Underlying the adventure and the magic, the book also explores some quite serious questions. What do you become when the role you were born to fill no longer exists? When does the anchor of tradition become a shackle that holds you back?
Vessel is a gem of a novel, YA or otherwise. I read it in one sitting and finishing it was a bittersweet experience. Definitely a book to read again and savour.
Most recent customer reviews
A lovely book. A desert girl has been raised her whole life to be a vessel for a god. On the day of her death, the god does not come.Read more
This book pulled me into such a cascade of emotions!Read more