Wednesday, January 11, 2023

"The Night Ship" by Jess Kidd - Book Review and Discussion

Interested in historical fiction or thinking about picking up Jess Kidd's newest novel, "The Night Ship"? Keep reading to see my review!



The Night Ship 
by Jess Kidd

goodreads // amazon // library

Based on a true story, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…

With her trademark “thrilling, mysterious, twisted, but more than anything, beautifully written” (Graham Norton, New York Timesbestselling author) storytelling, Jess Kidd weaves “a true work of magic” (V.E. Schwab, author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue) about friendship, sacrifice, brutality, and forgiveness. ( from )


Book Review of "The Night Ship"
by Jess Kidd




What Worked for Me:

Writing Style After finishing "The Night Ship" by Jess Kidd I gave the book three stars. It's a novel I enjoyed reading in parts, but it isn't a book I would push others to read. Ultimately, despite the things I struggled with that are listed below, I think the thing that won me over was how much I enjoyed Kidd's writing. The pacing and writing style kept me engaged throughout "The Night Ship" even when other elements were falling flat for me. Several quotes also stuck out to me and I saved them, which is one of the ways I can tell I am really enjoying an author's writing style. One of my favorites quotes from "The Night Ship" was :

"The greatest disgrace of humankind is the failure of the strong to protect the weak. We don't need monsters, Gil, we are the monsters."


What I Struggled With:

Disconnected Storylines There are two different main character storyline plots to follow in "The Night Ship". Typically in a historical fiction novel when an author does this there are major connecting points between the two characters and you learn more about the first plot/character from reading the second plot/character because of how they are intertwined. "The Night Ship" did not deliver on that and the two storylines felt only tangentially connected. For example, the settings of the characters are similar - the young girl is based on a ship and the young boy is based where research is being done about that ship, but they share very little else for connection. I struggled through most of the novel to try to make them more connected, which was unsatisfying because without that connection, why have the dual timelines? Additionally, the second timeline felt particularly random, it is set in the 1980s but didn't feel especially connected to that time period.

Child narrators are tricky I love reading the occasional John Green- esque teenager that sounds like someone in their mid-thirties. So I say this knowing that I'm a total hypocrite, but I really struggle with younger child narrators, which "The Night Ship" had throughout. When a nine year old is operating as an adult would but also like a child, depending on what the author needs at any given moment - my guard goes up. While there are lots of legitimate and also tragic reasons why a child would need to act as an adult for themselves, it begins to feel very convenient when the character goes in and out of that role. If only one of the narrators had been a child, I might have been able to move past this. I also have learned that I like my historical fiction stories to have a lot of history. For a variety of reasons, child narrators and their personal narratives are just too far removed from the action of the history. 

Have you read "The Night Ship" by Jess Kidd? Let me know your thoughts below or let me know your historical fiction preferences? Do you prefer light or heavy on the history? Happy reading, readers!


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