Only the Ocean, Natasha Carthew


Nothing was too much for a girl with nothing to lose

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. 

* *
2 / 5

I loved the premise of two girls falling in love in a boat floating on the ocean as the world drowns around them. Unfortunately I found the writing style so incredibly aggravating that it made it really hard for me to enjoy the great aspects about Only the Ocean: fast plot, interesting universe, and cool main character.

Kel Crow belongs to a family of drug dealers in a world where the poor dwell in the swamps of a waterlogged world and the rich literally live in high towers. In return for enough money for her to escape her abusive father, Kel agrees to board a boat and kidnap a rich tower girl, Rose, for ransom. She has her baby in tow, which was definitely a completely unique YA plot point for me: I’ve never read a YA fantasy novel where the main character has a kid. Unfortunately for Kel, her kidnapping doesn’t go quite to plan and her and Rose end up floating on a boat in the ocean.

I’m going to start off with the things I liked about Only the Ocean. I liked how the book wasn’t overly length. It kept the plot moving and rolling with the punches. A lot of action happened. The universe itself was intriguing; with towers for the rich, guns, pirates, and too much water, the book felt futuristic and interesting. Lastly, Kel was a unique character with a strong accent that grew on me throughout the book.

Unfortunately, the writing style of the book was so incredibly aggravating and difficult to read. There were virtually no commas, every sentence was overrun with metaphors, and I had to read some paragraphs several times for them to make sense. It didn’t have any kind of flow. Here is a couple of examples:

Kel pulled at what clothes were still holding to hide corners of skin from the bang-bang rain, but no matter what she did the salt-soak still bit biddy bites from her flesh

Its orb was so big and fleshy it filled the dark with muscular bounce and Kel sat up to wash herself clean with midnight light

Everything was so overly described that I felt completely emotionally disconnected from the plot and the characters. I didn’t feel like I knew Rose at all. Only the Ocean definitely had some great qualities, but I did not get along with the writing at all.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of Only the Ocean


One thought on “Only the Ocean, Natasha Carthew

  1. It’s too bad this book didn’t work for you, especially since it sounds like it had some really good things going for it. What you said about the writing reminds me of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ by Anthony Burgess, I enjoyed that book but the writing style can make it hard to get into. On the up side, the cover art of ‘Only the Ocean’ is absolutely gorgeous, I actually think it’s one of the prettiest covers I’ve ever seen! 🙂


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