• Malcolm Fernandes

BOOK REVIEW! AND THE OCEAN WAS OUR SKY By Patrick Ness & Illustrated by Rovina Cai

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

Herman Melville’s book the Whale, more popularly known as Moby Dick, was published in 1851. The book is a sailor’s narrative about his journey on a whaling boat whose captain is obsessed with finding revenge on a great big whale that was responsible for the man losing his leg.

Having picked up AND THE OCEAN WAS OUR SKY without knowing about the book or even reading the blurb (one look at the cover and grabbed it off a shelf at a book fair while hurrying to checkout), three pages in and I found the story vaguely familiar, yet utterly captivating. The book starts with a line from Moby Dick and it didn’t take long before I realized that I was reading a defiantly fresh version of Moby Dick itself — if the story of Moby Dick took place in a brilliant but strange parallel universe.

AND THE OCEAN WAS OUR SKY is British-American author, journalist and screen writer – Patrick Ness’ 2018 fantasy book that is about a young whale called Bathsheba whose world and its workings are much like ours, but with everything turned on its head (literally) and projected from the point of view of the Whales (hence the name of the book). It took me a little getting used to, to correctly grasp the directional references of the narrative but that process itself felt like easing the reader to see the story from a whole new perspective of the protagonist and take an empathetic stance. And this was, I feel, the best part of the writing.

What follows is an extremely descriptive and deep narrative of the main character, that, at its core questions our very nature as human beings, our perceptions and attitudes toward the natural world around us, our beliefs, and finding our place in the world while battling the pressures of social norms and values.

The highlight of the book is undoubtedly the work of Rovina Cai whose brilliant style and use of value to establish mood, her muted color palette, and organic lines and textures brings the whole book to life and marvelously amplifies the reading experience.

Short chapters, gorgeous illustrations and captivating wordplay make this a perfect story for all pushing young adult numbers and older. For the reader of off-beat fantasy, all-in-all, this is one of those books where everything comes together perfectly to deliver quality experience where you almost forget that you’re reading.


  • Creative Prose

  • Brilliant illustration and imagery

  • Deep, thought-provoking dialogue and storytelling

  • A perfect addition to a fantasy book collection

The Verdict

AND THE OCEAN WAS OUR SKY is an immersive and gorgeous book (I wish I had gotten my hands on the hardcover). The writing style leans towards the literary, with deep, thought-provoking prose that makes it a great read for young adults and older. Good fun and highly recommended for anyone studying visual essay / story telling. Overall, a brilliant example of how reading books can help one learn (and how a fantasy fiction book in particular can get a reader to come out, maybe, a little more educated after reading it (I know I did).


Also catch my review of this book here:

One the Children's Bookshelf International Facebook Group:


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17138600.Malcolm_Fernandes


Have you read And the Ocean was Our Sky? What do you think about this books review? Go ahead, enter your comment below and feel free to like and share this post out!

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