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Vessel - Sarah Beth Durst The moment I saw the cover for VESSEL, I knew immediately that this book would be for me. It was that love at first sight that you hear so often about with dating, except in this case, it was love at first sight between woman and book. I featured this book on my blog several months ago based on sight and synopsis. So when I finally got this book in my hands, I had a moment of thought – “What if this book doesn’t live up to my very high expectations?”Have you ever had that feeling? If you read a lot of books, I’m sure you have. It’s a feeling that sucks.But VESSEL did not disappoint me. While it certainly had its faults, the story itself was remarkable, unique, and truly awe inspiring in its scope and creativity. If you are looking for high fantasy with a blend of social issues, diplomacy, action, and swoon-worthy romance, then VESSEL should be at the top of your MUST ACQUIRE NOW DARN IT list. The heroine of VESSEL is Liyana, a member of the Goat Clan selected by destiny to be her clan’s Vessel, a future container for a Goddess who will heal her clan. She has lived her life according to tradition, but the moment she is shunted into a situation she was never prepared for, we begin to see one of those heroines that I love. She is smart, resourceful, and determined, even if at times her focus wavers and her decisions become clouded and weird. But I kind of wish that the story was more focused on Raan, the Vessel of the Scorpion Clan that has no desire to be a Vessel of any kind. Raan might be seen as annoying to some, but I have to admit, I love a bold, snarky character more than anything, and she injected that into the story for the brief time she was truly in it.Durst’s prose is for the most part very good – it’s descriptive and lyrical without being too showy, a problem that has hit me hard in many YA novels that go for “poetic” without being poetry. The prose does not overshadow the strong plot or characters. This, for me at least, is a really good thing. Too many times I’ve been burned by a book too concerned with sounding pretty than having a plot that stands on its own. Despite the fact that this story gets five stars from me, I did have a problem, but that problem is a huge spoiler that involves romantic entanglements and convenient plot wrap ups. Read the book and then get back to me and we can discuss what goes down in the last 100 pages. I will say this, though – I didn’t really like the way that Liyana’s life changed suddenly, even if she found the strength inside her to survive and lead the Clans. But when character relationships change, things are suddenly changed, people suddenly become different than they were before, it just makes it hard on the reader to believe that this shift could really be feasible.Does that little nitpick take away from my enjoyment of VESSEL? No, because this story was otherwise complete and unique in so many ways. It had the high fantasy I was desperate for, plus the strong heroine I strive to read in every story. It was intricate, unique, and amazing in so many ways. And Korbyn was quite the swoon-worthy love, even if every time I saw his name, I quietly murmured, “Korben Dallas! Here he is, the one and only winner of…” Fifth Element reference. Ignore it if you haven’t seen it. But if you have seen The Fifth Element, remember this about Korben:VERDICT: An intricate and unique tale of magic, inner strength, romance, and war, VESSEL is one of the best books I’ve read of 2012. If you’re in the market for unique and well plotted fantasy, or even if you’re not, buy this one today.