Only the Ocean by Natasha Carthew

From TheBookbag
Jump to navigationJump to search

Only the Ocean by Natasha Carthew

Buy Only the Ocean by Natasha Carthew at or

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A rough, raw and beautiful journey of a story, set in a dystopian near future. Love can transform. That's all I'm saying.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: November 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978- 1408868607

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram

Kel Crow lives with a heart defect that could kill her at any time. Her only hope is to escape the floodridden, waterlogged Cornish world she lives in, to leave her drug-running family far behind, and get to America with enough money for an operation. She has a plan: stowaway on a ship, kidnap a rich girl, exchange the girl for enough money for the journey to America and the surgery that will change her life.

But the best laid plans go awry and the ocean is implacable. And how could Kel have ever planned for someone like Rose?

I've left this review very late - a day before publication, no less! - because I am an unabashed Natasha Carthew fangirl and I wanted a clear day with no interruptions to read this, her latest book. Such days can be hard to come by - mumble grumble. Anyway. I read it. I loved it. And I thought I'd have a quick look at what others have been saying about Only the Ocean before me. And I stumbled across quite a bit of complaining about commas. Oh!

I am the Queen of Commas. I use far too many and they seem to creep in everywhere, even when I am sure I have not typed them. I write a review and then I go back to remove all the extraneous commas and even when I've done that there are still too many. Reviews of Only the Ocean are saying that there aren't enough commas and this makes the book impenetrable. Oh!

I feel the opposite way about it. Central character Kel acts on instinct. She thinks on instinct. Yes, she makes plans but Kel's plans are almost a displacement activity because her life is hard and dangerous and she wants more than anything to be able to exert some control over it. But events in this story come at Kel like wrecking balls and instinct is all she has. She doesn't have time for commas. And I felt that, far from alienating me, this pulled me right into the story. The missing commas grabbed me and didn't let me go.

So. Er. Yes. Three paragraphs on commas, which is weird. I loved Only the Ocean. It's about a girl who is trying to escape from a dreadful life and an entire deck of cards stacked against her. It's about a girl whose idea of escape and what it could look like has been severely limited by that dreadful life. It's about a dawning sexuality overcoming past trauma and it's about the new, hitherto unimagined, escape routes that love can bring. This all comes wrapped up in Carthew's singular and poetic style, awareness of nature and use of dialect. I thought it was wild and raw and truly, truly beautiful.

Take that, commas!

Don't miss Carthew's other work, especially Winter Damage. You might also enjoy The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan.

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy Only the Ocean by Natasha Carthew at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Only the Ocean by Natasha Carthew at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Only the Ocean by Natasha Carthew at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Only the Ocean by Natasha Carthew at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.