Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Vessel - Sarah Beth Durst

Vessel is one of those books that require some suspension of belief. The idea that gods and goddesses are magical beings who are unable to wield enough power to impact the human world without inhabiting a human body, called a vessel, is kind of outrageous. After all, they are gods.

 

I enjoyed the premise of the novel and loved the stories Korbyn and Liyana told about how their desert world was created by these mythological beings, but it is really hard to let go of the idea that gods and goddesses do not possess the necessary magic to leave the dreaming and live a human life on earth.The most glaring problem with the story lies with the main character, Liyana. It's difficult to root for a character who constantly tries to end her life. Liyana's sacrificial behavior is understandable at the beginning of the story because she has been conditioned since childhood that her purpose is to die as a vessel so that the goddess Bayla can inhabit her body and lead a human life that will ensure the clan's survival. When the goddess doesn't come, the clan abandons Liyana in the desert. The god Korbyn finds her and they embark on a mission to discover what happened to Bayla and the other missing gods and goddesses.

 

Unlike Raan, who is the vessel for the goddess Maara, Liyana lacks a survival instinct. She never tries to find a way to save everyone, including herself. When Bayla's whereabouts are discovered, Liyana attempts to take her life without a moment's hesitation. When things go wrong, Bayla and Liyana share her body and Liyana promises to end her life when the clans are safe and the moment presents itself.

 

Liyana's behavior is confounding. Raan behaves the way one would expect the heroine to behave, but for some reason we are left with this complacent creature whose disregard for her own safety and well-being is borderline disturbing. Then there is Korbyn, the trickster god and Bayla's lover. The way this whole scenario is set up is bad on so many levels. The Bayla-Korbyn-Liyana romance was awkward and made me really dislike Korbyn's character during the second-half of the book. Liyana's relationship with Korbyn was rushed. Also, a god who has spent an eternity being in love with a goddess would not suddenly develop romantic feelings for another individual, let alone his lover's human vessel. There was definitely a creep factor to this entanglement and Korbyn didn't end up being the comedic relief that the author had probably intended. Add Bayla's other suitor (Sendar) and Liyana's random human love-interest into the mix and we have ourselves a pointless love pentagon that adds absolutely nothing to the story or the moral dilemma that the protagonist should be having about her eventual demise.

 

As can be seen, I have a love-hate relationship with this book. I enjoyed many parts of it and the entire vessel idea is superb if you're willing to go with it. However, there were too many problems with how the characters behaved in the story and I was distracted by my fury at how nonchalant Liyana is about the prospect of dying. I get that this is a story about love and sacrifice and Liyana has witnessed the deaths of people that she cares about. I'm not immune to her suffering. However, I think the gods and goddesses have a greater connection to their humanity than the protagonist - and that's a shame.