April 16th, 2015
Vessel by Lisa T. Cresswell
This is my first time reading a book by the awesome Ms.Cresswell. Libby read her book Hush Puppy, and I planned to, but I eat up spec fic faster than anything else, so ran at the opportunity to read Vessel before it's release.
Vessel follows the exploits of a slave, who calls herself "Alana" in a near distant future, where all the world's technology is destroyed due to a natural disaster.
They see the sun, who they refer to as "Mother Sun" somewhat as a deity, or a natural force not to be reckoned with, and obey at all times.
The pacing was fast, I got to know Alana's normal, while learning about what was to come rather quickly. Not enough books spend the right amount of time showing me a character's day-to-day, before ripping them away from it.
Alana was a slave, and gave absolute obedience. She was abused sexually, physically and emotionally, but didn't know another way until she meets Recks.
Swoon for Recks!
Recks and a mysterious man named Kinder are about to be sentenced for an execution. Alana is sent to feed them once a day, but grows attached. She helps them escape, and it turns her world upside down from there.
Alana is well written, but most importantly, reminds me of a trauma victim. It grinds my gears when people ask "How come people don't fight back?" when they're abused. How are you supposed to know your worth and value, when no one is telling it to you? It's cool to take your life back when you're assaulted for as long as she's been abused. But that's a long road. Victims of physical, mental or sexual abuse, often never feel completely ok, even when they're in safer environments. There's no right way to write a trauma victim, but there are plenty of wrong ways. Nice to see one getting it right.
Alana was also a burn victim. Half her face was scolded, since her slave master raped her more than he had sex with his own wives(Polygamy isn't a crime this far in the future, and is a very common practice) so they poured burning pig fat on her face. Life was never easy for her.
I instantly connected with her connection to Recks. She fell in love with his ability to tell stories. Most people rely on being incredibly handsome, or having a gorgeous body. As a reader, and a writer, how could I not admire this?
To find someone's words that powerful? Especially in a world where books, knowledge and stories are forbidden? Match made in heaven =D
The book had good world building, but the ending made me a bit frustrated. It built a world, to rip me from it. Seemed like a lot of build up, but never fully explained everything to me.
Alana and Recks were both Asian, but it seemed as Recks was more mixed race. Sometimes I was a bit confused. Alana and Recks compared eye shapes to each other, suggesting they were the same ethnic origin. But something hinted at Japanese, while Recks himself spoke Cantonese.
Im very anal about this, mainly because Im often trying to prove people wrong that people of the same race don't look alike. Chinese people have way different features, including eye shapes than Japanese people.
Recks had green eyes, so it suggested he was mixed race, because that's not a common feature amongst Chinese people. There are plenty of people with green, or greenish-hazel eyes whom are Asian. Justin Nozuka is one of them, and I dreamcast him for a lot of cuties when I read. Still, that felt like an uncomfortable comparison.
I loved the POV's. I adore first person, especially dual protagonists. Hearing from both Recks and Alana was awesome.
It's hard to judge the editing, because I received an e-Arc, but the grammatical stuff wasn't too bad. The formatting seemed off to me, but there were not developmental or major errors.
I liked that Alana and Recks are the main characters, but they seemed like the only people of color in the book. Each of them rarely saw people who had similar features to themselves and they often referred to being from "The East." But from what I gathered, it seemed like they were in an apocalyptic Italy.
One interesting thing I don't get to bring up often? The mysterious man Kinder? He was significantly older than most people. In their world, people didn't live long, because technology was banned, so living past 50 was uncommon. I know Young Adult, or New Adult, Adult books want to focus on people who are young, but it's a nice change to see age diversity amongst main characters as well.
You'd have to read to learn more about Kinder. It's a bit trip. You might even think you're intoxicated when everything unfolds.
The title works. You had to get to the midway-ending to understand what the title meant to the book, but now that I know, it totally makes sense. I loved the cover. I did a cover reveal for it way back when, and wanted to read it so bad, based on the cover.
Im sure its difficult to find an Asian woman, with a scolded face in stock art, so I was a bit surprised to learn she was a burn victim, but if Im not judging it on accuracy, the cover is gorgeous.
I wish they're been a little more diversity, but for the main characters to be of color, with a strong story, it was a great effort. I look forward to finding out more of Alana's role as the (hopefully) series progresses!
Since Im down to dream casting, you already know I have a sweet spot for the Nozuka brothers. Justin often wins, because that voice, but with Hazel-Green eyes, it was difficult not to see him as Recks.
My leading lady Alana is harder, mainly due to the erasure of Asian-American actresses under 25. I looked up actresses and models, until I found someone that looked like Alana to me. I'd go with model Samantha Picard Tham. Im not sure of her origins, but the surname looks Vietnamese.