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Only the Ocean

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The two girls sat at opposite ends of the boat and Kel dug and stretched the oars into the ocean like her life depended upon it because it did. 'Just so you know,' said Rose, 'everything, I mean everything, is your fault.' 15-year-old Kel Crow lives in a water-logged world, with a family with whom she shares nothing but blood and a heart defect that she knows could kill her The two girls sat at opposite ends of the boat and Kel dug and stretched the oars into the ocean like her life depended upon it because it did. 'Just so you know,' said Rose, 'everything, I mean everything, is your fault.' 15-year-old Kel Crow lives in a water-logged world, with a family with whom she shares nothing but blood and a heart defect that she knows could kill her any day. She has a plan to escape, and it's a good one: stowaway on the ship, kidnap the girl, swap the girl to buy passage to America and a life-saving operation. But plans never go how they're meant to … Breath-takingly fierce, smart and tender, Only the Ocean is a story of innocence (and its loss), survival, and courage in the midst of darkness.


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The two girls sat at opposite ends of the boat and Kel dug and stretched the oars into the ocean like her life depended upon it because it did. 'Just so you know,' said Rose, 'everything, I mean everything, is your fault.' 15-year-old Kel Crow lives in a water-logged world, with a family with whom she shares nothing but blood and a heart defect that she knows could kill her The two girls sat at opposite ends of the boat and Kel dug and stretched the oars into the ocean like her life depended upon it because it did. 'Just so you know,' said Rose, 'everything, I mean everything, is your fault.' 15-year-old Kel Crow lives in a water-logged world, with a family with whom she shares nothing but blood and a heart defect that she knows could kill her any day. She has a plan to escape, and it's a good one: stowaway on the ship, kidnap the girl, swap the girl to buy passage to America and a life-saving operation. But plans never go how they're meant to … Breath-takingly fierce, smart and tender, Only the Ocean is a story of innocence (and its loss), survival, and courage in the midst of darkness.

45 review for Only the Ocean

  1. 5 out of 5

    Acqua

    I don't want to rate this because it's a DNF at 5% and rating a book after reading so little is unfair, but I can't do this. Only the Ocean is an interesting experiment of how it would feel to read a perfectly normal book if you took 90% of the commas out. As it turns out, it's unreadable - long run-on sentences just don't flow well - and also pretty confusing at times. I know I read an ARC and ARCs aren't always edited, but I think the lack of commas was intentional (a stylistic choice, maybe, bu I don't want to rate this because it's a DNF at 5% and rating a book after reading so little is unfair, but I can't do this. Only the Ocean is an interesting experiment of how it would feel to read a perfectly normal book if you took 90% of the commas out. As it turns out, it's unreadable - long run-on sentences just don't flow well - and also pretty confusing at times. I know I read an ARC and ARCs aren't always edited, but I think the lack of commas was intentional (a stylistic choice, maybe, but one I don't really understand the purpose of) because I can't believe so many of them would just... not be there. I decided to DNF when I got to the first dialogues, because I understood the writing wasn't going to get any better and because this book also does another thing I do not like - it writes the accents in the dialogue. The idea of a LGBTQ book set in a water-logged world whose protagonist is a girl with a heart defect sounded really interesting, but I'm not continuing this.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joana Barroca

    I admit I've been in a reading slump lately and that may have a lot to do with the fact that I couldn't keep reading this. I got bored and confused. The sentences didn't really make any sense with the lack of commas, and even though this is an arc I think the commas were purposely missing. I'm also not really a fan of this type of writing so it just didn't get to me. Maybe when I'm out of the slump I'll give it another try but for now, I really want to find something that gets me going from the s I admit I've been in a reading slump lately and that may have a lot to do with the fact that I couldn't keep reading this. I got bored and confused. The sentences didn't really make any sense with the lack of commas, and even though this is an arc I think the commas were purposely missing. I'm also not really a fan of this type of writing so it just didn't get to me. Maybe when I'm out of the slump I'll give it another try but for now, I really want to find something that gets me going from the start instead of me trying to keep going without wanting to.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gianna

    I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. In a dystopian world filled with water, people have little chance of living a good life. Kel Crow, just fifteen, wants to escape the life she's been living with her family. And there's a plan involved. The pan was easy: kidnap the girl from the ship, and swap her in order to gain passage to America and start a new life. But when things don't go as planned, Kel will see a very different outcome to I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. In a dystopian world filled with water, people have little chance of living a good life. Kel Crow, just fifteen, wants to escape the life she's been living with her family. And there's a plan involved. The pan was easy: kidnap the girl from the ship, and swap her in order to gain passage to America and start a new life. But when things don't go as planned, Kel will see a very different outcome to her life.. Only the Ocean is a book with a very unique concept. Kel is undoubtedly a very strong-willed and resourceful individual, and her story is one of resilience and courage. This is certainly a good fit for young adults and teenagers. I only have one objection: the writing. It was actually very bad at the beginning (no commas, lack of necessary punctuation, bad writing), which reduced the readability and made reading an unpleasant experience. However, it significantly improved after the first twenty pages or so. I sincerely hope this happened because it is an ARC, which is why I didn't rate lower; if not, however, and if this is its final form, then I would strongly suggest re-editing the first chapters, as the writing style actually took some of the pleasure of the story away. Overall a very good concept, with a really interesting protagonist.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I found this extremely difficult to read due to the writing style. I’m sure to some it will be wonderfully lyrical to some but unfortunately I just couldn’t gel with it. The prose are overly descriptive and because of this I found myself distancing myself from the characters. I had no emotional connections with anyone. The plot itself, if you can wade through the writing, is pretty good. It’s quite a short book, so it needs to be s I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I found this extremely difficult to read due to the writing style. I’m sure to some it will be wonderfully lyrical to some but unfortunately I just couldn’t gel with it. The prose are overly descriptive and because of this I found myself distancing myself from the characters. I had no emotional connections with anyone. The plot itself, if you can wade through the writing, is pretty good. It’s quite a short book, so it needs to be succinct and fast paced, and the story is creative. I love dystopian novels, and even if they all tend to follow the same patterns, I usually find them entertaining. Kel also has the potential to be a powerful lead character, with some rather interesting qualities (such as a heart defect, which adds another dimension to the story) - but I just wasn’t taken there. I just wish I could have got on with the writing, because this was a struggle.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maria Mihaela

    Not all bad but very difficult to read. It felt like I'm skimming.... not reading.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Beth Wainwright

    Fierce and defiant, you will fall in love with every element of this journey. An incredible piece of art, I can't wait to read more by such a powerful, lyrical writer.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    This is one of those books that was advertised on Netgalley as 'Teens and YA', but kept popping up on my Twitter feed as having queer rep. So not knowing much about it or about the author, I requested the book and was approved, thinking that the concept sounded fascinating. But sadly, the book didn't really live up to my expectations. Kel Crow is the book's main character, and the whole story is told from her perspective. She's from the wrong side of the tracks, a member of a family with a reputa This is one of those books that was advertised on Netgalley as 'Teens and YA', but kept popping up on my Twitter feed as having queer rep. So not knowing much about it or about the author, I requested the book and was approved, thinking that the concept sounded fascinating. But sadly, the book didn't really live up to my expectations. Kel Crow is the book's main character, and the whole story is told from her perspective. She's from the wrong side of the tracks, a member of a family with a reputation for being ruthless and deeply involved in illegal activities. She also has a heart defect, and without surgery (unavailable to her in her current situation), she could die at any moment. Kel's tough and aggressive, partly because that's how she's been brought up to be, and partly because that's the only why she can get by in the world. She's resourceful too, but not always the best at thinking through the full consequences of her actions. Regarding characterisation, I felt like I knew and understood Kel and her motivations. However, I didn't feel connected to any of the other characters, and particularly with Rose, I think that was a huge issue in the book. Because all we get of her is from her interactions with Kel, and much of that is coloured by Kel's perceptions and assumptions about her, it's hard to see her as her own person with her own agency, rather than just a character who exists to force Kel to go on a journey. And if I hadn't known that there was queer rep, I think I would have been surprised when it was explicitly stated, as for me, the relationship didn't feel like it was developing that way. I found a lot of the story quite difficult to follow. Carthew uses dialect for Kel and various other characters, which I'm not always fond of, and Kel herself has quite unusual internal dialogue patterns. Combined with some formatting choices that could be to do with the specific e-ARC copy I read or could be part of the finished version, overall I struggled both to understand what exactly was being said, and what was happening in terms of the plot. I was definitely interested in what was happening, but I felt like the pacing didn't quite work for me, so some sections seemed to be quite long for what was going on it them, whilst others felt too short and lacking in detail. The one aspect of the book I really loved was the setting. It's in the UK, which is a great place to start, and then it's in Cornwall, and off the coast there, which is an area of the country I think should be way more prevalent in literature (outside of the cozy mystery/women's fiction type books set in some quaint country cottage). And of course, the sea itself plays a huge role in the story, and is beautifully imagined. I thought the sense of place was incredibly vividly described throughout, and the whole book felt quite cinematic in that respect. This was definitely not the read I was expecting it to be. Though I loved the setting and the vivid descriptions, the actual storyline didn't make all that much sense to me, and I didn't feel any connection to the characters. Sadly, this isn't a book I'd recommend, though I'd be interested in checking out other books by this author to see what the rest of her writing is like.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Annette Jordan

    An interesting concept but I struggled with the writing style and that really impacted on my enjoyment of this book. Kel Crow is fifteen , living in a swamp with her family, and the victim of abuse . Her only dream is to flee to America so that she can have an operation on her heart, and in order to make that happen she must kidnap Rose, the daughter of an arms dealer, and trade her for drugs which will fund her travels. In the strange dystopian future of the world presented in this book, riots An interesting concept but I struggled with the writing style and that really impacted on my enjoyment of this book. Kel Crow is fifteen , living in a swamp with her family, and the victim of abuse . Her only dream is to flee to America so that she can have an operation on her heart, and in order to make that happen she must kidnap Rose, the daughter of an arms dealer, and trade her for drugs which will fund her travels. In the strange dystopian future of the world presented in this book, riots have broken out, the rich live in the safety of towers while the rest of the population literally struggle in the mud and filth. Despite the strange and strained circumstances, Rose and Kel grow to care for each other, and rely on each other for survival in some very harsh conditions. While the premise of the book was interesting, as I mentioned the struggle with the writing style made this book less enjoyable for me. The author has chosen to use minimal punctuation, resulting in long run on sentences which are difficult to read fluidly. I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Williams

  11. 5 out of 5

    Florentyna Kerkmeer

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cat New

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sammie Fraser

  14. 4 out of 5

    Allana

  15. 5 out of 5

    TM Walden

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elva Hills

  18. 5 out of 5

    Charley

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ams

  20. 4 out of 5

    Debbie at Snuggling on the Sofa

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katrina Southern

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Cameron

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lizzie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

  25. 5 out of 5

    Valerie McGimpsey

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Lewis

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maldoka_

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ocean

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lena (The Printed Girl)

  31. 5 out of 5

    Jess

  32. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  33. 5 out of 5

    Mari

  34. 5 out of 5

    Jessi (Novel Heartbeat)

  35. 4 out of 5

    Annie Deo

  36. 5 out of 5

    Sara ~ Bookspedia

  37. 5 out of 5

    Sara Milioni di Particelle

  38. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

  39. 5 out of 5

    Sarah L.

  40. 4 out of 5

    Ladychocolate07

  41. 5 out of 5

    Matthias

  42. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  43. 5 out of 5

    Rosana Carlos

  44. 5 out of 5

    Nevada Lewis

  45. 5 out of 5

    Rianna

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