Cover Image: Be the Sea

Be the Sea

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I really loved this novel! I found it to be a gently slow story. It captured me very quickly with the beautiful writing style and story within a story feel. Some of my favourite parts were the stories Wend told.

I really liked the found family elements and the different connections made throughout the story - both with people and nature.. The queer rep was wonderful too, I loved that this move was told from the pov of a non-binary person.

Was this review helpful?

DNF at 35% but might come back to and reread at a later date.

I don't think I was in the right mood to read this book.

The wording is beautiful but some of the stories that Wend provides feel irrelevant or more just to learn more about their past life rather than them being a storyteller.

The concept of the book intrigued me and there is definitely an audience that will love the beautiful writing, I might too when I reread it.

I am going to buy the ebook of this and hope that someday soon I'll be in a better mood for this book/writing style!

I loved the Nonbinary rep and found family concept! And the writing is once again beautiful, just my mind is finding it hard to concentrate.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you NetGalley and Atthis Arts for allowing me an advanced readers copy.

I’m disappointed to say the least. I thought this was going to be so fun and enjoyable and atmospheric. And it wasn’t. I thought the stories were going to be adventure, pirate-like stories and they were not. I do appreciate the diversity in this story. Very good. But overall it did not deliver. I am hoping this story finds the right audience.

Was this review helpful?

Review 9/10 The recipe for this book is as follows: an ocean life documentary, an optimistic green future, a large helping of neurodivergence, the beauty of Hawaii, a giant scoop of found family + queer love, and a sprinkle of magic and mystery

Going into it my main worry was that it would be slow. And it was at points but in a good relaxing enjoyable book vibes way. The start of the book is a two week journey on a boat with a couple of characters sharing life stories as they learn how to communicate and share themselves with each other. Other reviews called the book love letter to neurodivergent communication and I second that. It was wonderful seeing Wend show others how they best get to know people and communicate.

I loved all the ocean living and how beautifully everything was described once they got to Hawaii. I felt like I was sailing on a boat then enjoying Hawaii myself.

The solar punk elements were amazing. I now love this genre. It was so pleasant to read in a world where climate change was being taken seriously and large efforts were being made to save the planet and life on it.

The characters were great and so diverse. There was lots of queer rep of all different kinds, poly rep, disability rep. The neurodivergent rep was particularly special in this book. Most of the characters were so accommodating to peoples feelings and disabilities, it was lovely to read.

The plot was a bit meandering as there were a lot of stories and people weaving together to make the big picture and solve the main mystery. I found it really unique and enjoyable overall!

Was this review helpful?

If I could describe Be the Sea in just two words they would be: lyrical prose. This book is beautifully written, and while I didn't connect with the story as much as I wanted to, the writing was beyond my expectations as it flowed through me and wrapped itself around me like the water that our MC, Wend, loves so much. If you want a brilliant brain-tickle when it comes to prose, look no further.

Beyond that of the gorgeous writing, Ward sets the tone of Be the Sea as a (Dare I use this term?) cozy, solar-punk science-fiction. Wend is the opposite of so many MCs being a young soul in an old body, and it's honestly extremely refreshing to read a book with this point of view. The novel is set aboard scientist Viola's zero-emissions ship, a person that Wend admires greatly and happens to share a birthday with, as they traverse the Pacific ocean. As they sail, they tell each other stories of their youth to pass the time, and Wend hopes they can find a deeper connection with Viola and her cousin, Aljon, as they go.

Be the Sea is a wonderfully cozy story that will have you speculating on how our dreams, actions, and relationships impact us and intertwine with each other as we grow.

Was this review helpful?

Did not finish book. Stopped at 32%.
Thank you to the publisher, Atthis Arts for providing me with an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Be the Sea is futuristic sci-fi book focusing on nonbinary marine scientist, Wend Taylor, or throws themselves aboard a ship to join the crew of Viola Yang. Viola Yang is a nature photographer. Wend bargains stories in order to earn their place on board.

Ultimately, this book just did not work for me. Wend’s stories just come off as emotionally charged and awkward info dumping. Though the story is told from Wend’s point of view, we don’t fully understand why Wend chose Viola’s crew or is seeking emotional connection with Viola so intensely. Although I stopped reading, I read a little over a third of the book and only got a slight hint at Wend’s reasoning. Considering the POV choice, I thought we would get more insight.

Other dialogue is also awkward. It’s disappointing that millennial jokes are still being made at this point in the future and that any attempts at empathy (example: asking if something is triggering) is treated as stupid and brushed off as “millennial speak.” There is also a LOT of science jargon in the books and it was hard to understand, in my opinion.

There were other odd elements to me. Such as a character saying they were proudly declaring “post-problematic” or two characters “holding feet” as a sign of intimacy. Ultimately, this was a very meandering story during which at no point I felt no connection to the characters or any grasp of the plot. The book would have benefitted from more explanation- we knew what the characters were doing but hardly ever why.

I chose not to finish this book when conversations about healthcare became a central issue in one chapter. Healthcare is just a touch too stressful of a topic in my life right now (a personal issue, I know) and seeing it in this book was the final straw for me.

Although I loved that there was a very queer cast of characters and neurodivergent representation, this story was not what I hoped it would be.

Was this review helpful?

i think this book just wasn’t the one for me. it was incredibly slow i had to force myself to read. i wish it would’ve been more fast pace or just not have been as monotone.

thank you netgalley for the e arc!

Was this review helpful?

I really wanted to love this book in its entirety but it often felt like it was dragging on a bit. There were definitely elements of the novel that I enjoyed like the consistent Pacific Islander theming and the characters actually being Islanders is half the reason I picked up this novel. The other half being the sea exploration theming.

I loved the actual action scenes and many of the heart to heart scenes but there was occasionally just too much information dumping. I love a good info dump as much as the next person but at some points it was hard to keep up with.

Wend, Viola and Aljon will have my heart though, the characters are so relatable and Ward's writing really made me feel for a lot of the characters especially with their backstories and certain eveents that go in the story but I won't go into too much! You'll have to read this story yourself!

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley and publishers for the arc! Ho boy, I really wish I had more positive things to say about this book, but honestly, it missed the mark for me and I had to DNF.

The first act was incredibly boring and was doing so much telling, and telling, and telling. It was monotonous for me. When it wasn’t going on and on about the workings of a boat (yawn) or some other mechanical stuff (also yawn), it was constantly driveling out extremely shallow discourse on neurodivergency, the queer spectrum, and other pc topics. I myself am a neurodivergent woman, and I love to read diversely in general. I also have many other things in common with these people, but if I wanted a book about neurodivergent, gender, sexuality, and other studies I’d pick one up. In other words, these topics seemed forced. They don’t blend in with the story (in which there is barely any). The first act of this book is just constantly rehashing the same talking points and topics. It became redundant and eye-roll worthy. It didn’t help that I already couldn’t connect to the characters, despite having many things in common with them. Unfortunately, I heard that these issues continue for the rest of the book. I had to put it down. I just couldn’t anymore.

Was this review helpful?

A slow-paced but enjoyable solarpunk story full of a queer cast and excellent representation. I don't mind slow paced stories, in fact most of the time I enjoy them over action filled movement based books. Especially when they're as descriptive as this one. Be the Sea doesn't just explain a journey, it takes you on one. The book being split into acts makes it easy to have spots to sit and reflect on what you've read and how it was written.

Learning about environments that normally aren't explored in fiction is something that I always enjoy and I've read more books about the ocean than I can count and this one still managed to grab me in ways that others hadn't. Putting forth a message of needing to protect our natural resources and the creatures that live in them is a great message for a novel such as this.

It was an absolutely delightful read that I will be reading again, and recommending that others read as well.

Was this review helpful?

I was genuinely so excited to be approved for this ARC, bc I loved the cover and that it featured a neurodivergent enby main character (hello, representation feels wonderful). But I have tried three different times to start this and can't seem to get more than a few pages in. I'm certain it's just bc I'm not in the right headspace for it rn, and will keep trying bc I desperately want to love it.

Was this review helpful?

Be the Sea feels a lot like it’s going for The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet vibes, but solarpunk and marine-based rather than out in space. Which feels like a very intuitive set of vibes/themes to me, and a really promising one! I mean, that’s why I requested an arc of it!

But… I was very bored.

It’s not the pacing that’s the problem – I have absolutely zero issue with long, languid, rambly stories; I love them! I would love to see more of them! This is instead an issue of… While I care ideologically about marine life, I’m not actually that interested in fish and algae and so on for their own sake. If Be the Sea had been written more descriptively, I think I could have enjoyed myself – tropical waters are absolutely gorgeous, after all, so I would have loved to have all that colour and diversity described to me! A more sensory style of prose, and this probably would have gotten at least four stars from me.

Unfortunately, it’s not written that way. I wouldn’t call the prose completely bare-bones, but it’s not lush and descriptive. And I completely understand the way the main character, Wend, communicates – how and why they find it easier to communicate via telling stories instead of what a lot of us consider ‘normal’ conversing – it makes sense to me. But instead of having what I can only call the Arabian Nights effect – that thing where stories are nested and interconnected with other stories; is there an official trope name for that? – it reads like semi-constant, and very, very boring, info-dumps. Which I at least can’t connect to whatever Wend & co are, or were just, talking about. I was bored to tears by Wend’s stories, for the most part, and nothing was happening except that they and their crew-mates were on a boat.

From other early reviews, it’s clear that Be the Sea picks up a fair bit towards the middle, and from what I’ve read of the book I think I can guess what the big science conspiracy plot might be. But I really just don’t care – I like the characters fine, but I don’t love them, and without lots of sensory description to balance the slow pace, reading this was a chore. I made it to 20%, but I won’t be pushing on any further.

Was this review helpful?

This is actually 3.5 stars.

This book was good, but I found it to be incredibly confusing. This book consists of the main character, Wend, telling two other characters about their life via stories. The stories are mostly told through Wend talking, and there are very little breaks in text, which means it begins to get confusing when another character speaks. Or when Wend is repeating something someone in their stories said. It's possible this is an issue that will be fixed in copy-editing and in-print will be much less confusing.

For me, this spoiled the whole book. It's also a very slow-paced book, so if that's not for you, I wouldn't recommend this book in particular.

Was this review helpful?

The publisher's description of this as a slow-paced, free-flowing long story told in the tradition of fanfiction certainly holds true, for both the good and bad aspects of that.

For the good, the cast of characters are all identities that don't typically get centered or really explored in close-future speculative fiction. It's full of queer, neurodiverse characters from all walks of life and cultures, drawn together in what ends up being the story's central mystery.. That mystery is full of wonderful details that dance between the line of speculative sff and reality, a hope for the future and a wish for this world to be both stranger and more interconnected that we can imagine.

However, the free-flowing and slow-paced gets in the way of that a lot. The first third of the book is almost entirely set-up, but done in such a way that feels both overly explanative and avoiding what is really happening. This sort of continues, as the meat of the mystery and plot gets sandwiched and buried in the interpersonal relationships and found family-building of the characters. This will really work for some readers, but I found the blend unbalanced.

Was this review helpful?

Full of sea-based magical realism and sci fi elements, reading this felt like swimming: sometimes floating, sometimes speed swimming.

Wend (neurodivergent and nonbinary) takes a chance by offering themself as crew on Viola's boat in exchange for Wend's stories. With all too real dreams, Wend, Viola, and Aljon make their way to Hawai'i, where Wend rediscovers personal connections and uncovers a mystery.

I absolutely love the way neurodivergence was represented in this novel. It's not often I read about older protagonists so having the majority of the cast in their 60s was a really great change too. The queer rep was also fantastic with a pan and nonbinary MC and supporting characters that are ace, Sapphic, and poly. The pacing was a little rough with the beginning being very slow which made the last third feel jam-packed by comparison. However, I LOVED the found family aspect and thoroughly enjoyed the magical realism in the flying/swimming dreams.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to NetGalley and Atthis Arts for this ARC.

Unfortunately I decided not to finish Be the Sea, so my review is that of the first 20%.

In my opinion, the blurb did not do a good job of describing this book. Yes, it is about a neurodivergent person telling their life story, but there is nothing magical, or extraordinary about their life, aside from the fact that they are neurodivergent. Maybe the magical things happen after they reach their destination in Hawai'i?

The pacing is very slow. We learn the main character, Wend's backgound in detail, as well as all their coping mechanisms, and familiarise ourselves with the way their brain works. This, I find is a good way to introduce neurodivergent people to those who never met one in person, (like myself.)

All in all, thank you for the opportunity to read this book. I really enjoyed the sci-fi-esque detailed descriptions of the equipment and the main character's scientific discoveries.

Was this review helpful?

(4.5 stars)

Set in the future, humans have become more aware of the impacts we have on our environment and have finally made proper strides in sustainability. This book follows Wend, a marine biologist as they sail with Viola (a marine photographer) and Aljon (a talented cook) as they make their way to Hawai'i as well as what happens after their journey.

I loved the characters in this. Mostly. And I think that this greatly contributed to my enjoyment as this story is very character driven. Yes, plot happens to them (things get pretty intense towards the middle!) , but I felt like the focus is always on the characters. I absolutely loved Wend and found them incredibly relatable as a neurodivergent non-binary person who works in biology. I also adored Aljon (an asexual person who needs to escape from people and their drama) who I also saw a lot of myself in. Although we saw less of them as they only really appeared later, I also loved getting to get to know most of the rest of the cast. I loved the diversity and well-executed representation of the variability of human relationships. That being said, there were other characters I was less fond of. While people like her definitely exist, I very much disliked Shelley and her hostility. Most disappointingly, I feel like we never fully get to know Viola, even though she has spent so much tie with Wend. Although I do wonder how much this is due to how other closer relationships are written about.

Although the characters are delightful and there is some beautiful found family in the pages, this book does delve into some darker themes. I found myself having to put this down a couple of times. But I found it all to have been written respectfully and believably - this was definitely not the "I am mad now" kind of need to put the book down, but rather the "well this has brought up some feelings I need to process" variety. But contrasting that was a much more accepting world than the one I am familiar with. While there is some queerphobia and the like, it's so much more normalised (the fact that so few people respond to Wend's pronouns!) and the characters are largely so respectful of each other and their boundaries. This and the more eco conscious world are really so beautiful to see.

If you love well-developed queer and/or neurodivergent characters, found family, the ocean and mysterious dreams I can definitely recommend this book. Things may develop slowly, but I loved the journey that the author has taken me on.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

(Also, I would just like to add that the author has an impressive knowledge of sea life and explored this in a very creative way!)

Was this review helpful?

*I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

*Be The Sea* is a solarpunk scifi set in the near future - in 2039, to be exact. We follow Wend, a marine microbiologist as they sail from the Marquesas to Hawai’i and then settle in Hilo. This book was rather slow paced, which would typically turn me off a book, but in this it just felt like a relaxed, leisurely pace. If you don’t like slow-paced books, I would definitely give this a chance anyway, because it really felt like it fitted the book.

I loved the world building in this book. Although it’s set in our world, it’s set in a part of the world I’m completely unfamiliar with, and in this book the world has changed a lot in 15 years. Although a lot of damage had been suffered through the climate crisis, the world was also finally starting to change for the better.

I also really enjoyed most of the characters in this book. My favourites were Aljon and Matt, but almost all of them were people I’d love to be friends with. Personally, I found both Viola and Shelly very frustrating, especially Shelly and her combativeness whenever she even slightly disagreed with someone, but overall the character cast was really lovely.

This book was also incredibly inclusive. The characters have a wide variety of sexualities, genders, relationship styles and other identities, and the communities shown are far better at embracing the traditional ownership and knowledge of the land. It felt so soothing to see a vision of the world that accepts people how they are.

*Be The Sea* was a delightful read that I got to enjoy taking my time with, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested.

Was this review helpful?

I found this story interesting, and I really enjoy that the main character Wend was a great source representation for neurodiversity and lgbt identities. I dont see a lot of nonbinary representation, especially not in stories with non-teenage/young adult main characters. For me, the main issue I had was the pacing as things either tending to happen too fast or too slow. Otherwise I really liked the setting-- the author was very descriptive so it let you really visualize where they were.

Was this review helpful?

This was one of the rare books where I loved taking my time with it! I feel like that also fit well with the author style, taking the time to absorb the nuanced bits and hints, and not just racing over them and them getting lost in all the words.

I really loved slowly getting to know Wend more and more through their stories and emotions.
The world-building of one of our possible futures was very well done, and I definitely learned things about marine biology!

One thing that gradually stood out to me most, was how gently inclusive this whole book is. So much variety in ability levels, identities, backgrounds, neurodiversity, love styles and more. It felt like a warm bath.

Was this review helpful?