A huge thanks to Head of Zeus publishing and Chris Vick for a beautiful copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Storm, shipwreck, survival. Chris Vick’s novel delves deep into the might and majesty of the unpredictable ocean, the strength of an unlikely friendship between a British boy and a Berber girl and their will to survive against all the odds.
A young British boy called Bill narrowly survives the sinking of his yacht in a huge storm off the coast of Morocco. After many days alone at sea in a small boat he rescues another survivor, clinging for her life to a barrel. She is a girl called Aya, from the nomadic Berber tribe, whose migrant ship was destroyed by the same storm. Through endless days, a mere speck on the vast, empty sea – hungry, sunburned, and with no idea what will happen next – Aya recounts the tales of Shahrazad of the Arabian Nights, who told 1000 stories to quell the murderous desire of the Persian King. As hope of rescue begins to fade, from Aya’s tales of magic, brave heroes, wily thieves, greedy kings and cruel sultans, they find the strength they need to stay alive.
When they land on a desert island they’re confronted by a strange young man who is not what he seems… and back out on the waves once more in the dark deep, a shadow follows and waits…
This is one of those novels that I just cannot find the right words to describe how stunning and beautiful it is. From the cover, the story and every single word, this book is simply stunning. I am a huge fan of Life of Pi (so much that I wanted to name the cat Richard Parker) and although very different, it’s easy to feel and see the influence.
Despite being written for the younger side if YA (12+), it never really felt like that. The storytelling was so compelling and breathtaking that I just fell straight into it and never wanted to leave.
The setting of the story is at sea, with nothing else around. Pretty difficult to make interesting? Not for Chris Vick! Every smell, sight and sound jumped from the pages which were filled with vivid details of the wonder and danger of the open sea.
The relationship between Bill and Aya is told tenderly and with love. Both have faced difficult times and the way they care for each other brought me to tears so many times. Their vulnerability and immaturity shone through at times giving the reader reminders that these characters are just children. I adored the way they learned to communicate through the language barriers too.
This novel is just utterly stunning for adults and young adults alike and I really cannot recommend it enough.