Sunday, February 28, 2021

Book Review: Ahab

 “‘… have you ever stopped to think that perhaps these noble intentions I see in other are truly there, they just need to be drawn out? Would we all not be better versions of ourselves if others held us to higher standards?’”


Wow. Just wow. I enjoyed this story way more than I expected!

A long, long time ago in a country far, far away, I read the source book, Melville’s Moby-Dick. Can I just say that I enjoyed this retelling for different reasons? While Moby-Dick focusses on whaling in the 19th century and the impact it had on society, the economy, and nature as a whole, Ahab explores the potential future of the 26th century after a devastating war between humankind and sentient machines (the whales, or MICs as their called).


Book: Ahab by E.B. Dawson
Genre: Sci-fi, space opera, retelling
My rating: 4/5 stars
Mini description: whales in space, space whales!

Told from both the perspective of Ahab and his first mate James Starbuck, Ahab was a delightfully complex story. I particularly enjoyed the dual perspective and the juxtaposition of Ahab’s stubbornness and determination next to Starbuck’s idealism and loyalty. Though not as nearly as long as its source book, I found the book to be the perfect length. And the font size was legible!

I particularly liked how Dawson incorporates sailing with space travel. While the former is tried and true, the latter is relatively new, so there’s no saying what exactly it will look like in the future.

Even though the story takes place in the 26th century, it’s reminiscent of the 1800’s, which is both interesting and frustrating. From a story-telling standpoint, I though the details of the society were really cool, but from a woman’s perspective, a society that doesn’t advocate women’s rights is super frustrating, even if some of the characters stand up for them.

Another element I liked about the book is how it’s not so straightforward with its answers. The ending actually left me wondering if that was all, yet the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

So I actually feel kinda bad for giving the book 4 stars instead of 5, and the only reason for that is because some parts of the story felt unnecessary. At one point, Ishmael shows up, which I found to be really cool how Dawson worked him in, until he’s never mentioned again. Was the only purpose of the chapter for the brief cameo? Plot-wise, his appearance doesn’t make much sense.

In all, I gave Ahab 4/5 stars for excellent character development and story telling albeit some unnecessary plot points. I would recommend the book to those who have and have not read Moby-Dick and are interesting in space opera. I look forward to reading more of Dawson’s work.


Interested in the book? Have you read it yet? You might also enjoy these classic retellings: The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen (Turandot, Italian opera), The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (Les Miserables, French classic), The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (The Snow Maiden, Russian fairytale).


Let’s chat! Have you read Ahab yet, or has it made it to your TBR? Have you read the original Moby-Dick? What are some of your favorite classic retellings?




Similar book reviews: The Court of Miracles, Strange Waters, and The Beast of Talesend

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