Short Story Review: An Ocean the Color of Bruises by Isabel Yap

Note: This review is part of the 2016 Summer Reading Diversity Spotlight.

An Ocean the Color of Bruises by Isabel Yap
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Uncanny Magazine
Genre: Sci-fi/Fantasy
Source: Uncanny Magazine

An Ocean the Color of Bruises is a post college beach story that follows five friends on a Philippines vacation that they’ve all worked so hard to go on, for themselves and to see each other. As the group checks into their hotel for their two night three day stay, they begin to notice how empty their destination but don’t fully question the sleepy island until one night when any and all doubts are washed away, ready to drown the friends in them as well.

This was great. Perhaps it is my favorite short story of Isabel Yap’s so far that I’ve read. I loved the murky, dark blue tone of this story. At first, it reads like a regular contemporary as one waits for the fantastical element to appear but then it starts to read like a teen horror movie in all its glory and it is absolutely fantastic. I loved the element of fear that was established here early on and seeing gradually how valid that fear was.

And then, in all this wreckage one wonders if what one fears is really all that bad because there’s peace and there’s torment, turmoil whether you’re lost at sea or lost on land. The exploration of life and death and living, of guilt and tragedy was so beautiful here, I really enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed how three dimensional all of the characters were and that there is diversity not just when it comes to the backgrounds of these characters but romantically speaking as well, as we find Heinz and Chino in a relationship. I loved how real the college experience felt as well. But most of all, I just really loved the tone and how such a familiar trope became fresh again in just how thought provoking it became in the end.

An Ocean the Color of Bruises is wonderful (as is the title) and I absolutely recommend this for anyone looking for a beautifully dark short story to devour.

Favorite Lines:

  • Death is only one other song often played on these islands.
  • Here we are at the end of things, fearless and free as we’re allowed to be.
  • For all our faults we at least know these moments, even if only when we’re already in them.
  • The waves are a soundtrack none of us want to listen to. It’s too much like ourselves, lost and rolling, in and out and in again.

Read An Ocean the Color of Bruises by Isabel Yap at Uncanny Magazine today.