Deep Blue

18601430by Jennifer Donnelly
YA Fantasy
3 of 5 stars

I feel I need to start by saying I am so conflicted about this book! There is nothing inherently “wrong” with it…but it didn’t grab me until almost 75% in, and there were a few reasons for that. But I feel conflicted about my reasons! It’s not often a book leaves me just scratching my head, unsure what to say (especially since we aren’t talking about philosophical or physics theories here)!

For the most part, the issue I had was the pacing. The first quarter of this book is an info-dump about the world, the characters, side characters that play no role in the story, mythology, and magic. So many names—so many factoids—my head was spinning. From there, we move on to a plot that stutters and stops between crazy action sequences, leaving little room for character development or time to process events. There’s a lot of telling vs. showing. The dialogue is dramatic. Finally, the 10-page glossary in the back is to help you understand more sea-puns and made-up vocabulary than I could handle, but that is entirely a matter of taste! I will say that this more than anything made it seem like a middle-grade story instead of YA, with the exception of a few violent scenes.

Why did I finish this book then? Because there are many things I actually liked!

The mythology is addictive. There are six (SIX!) female heroines teaming up and becoming friends and working together. The central relationship of this book is not a romantic one—despite dealing with a betrothal, and several princesses— it’s the best friendship between Serafina and Neela. By the way, each of the six mermaids hails from a different country—female teens handling alliances, politics, different cultures, and finding common ground as they represent entire nations! The wise figures in this story providing prophecy and wisdom are all older mermaids. There’s also a light exploration of how humans are affecting the sea’s population and ecology and I’m betting this will continue to play a role in the series. Yes, the themes throughout the book are presented in a slightly cheesy, very Disney manner (which makes sense since Disney is the publisher), but these are good themes all the same.

The last quarter of this story is the best by far. I’m disappointed that most of the book felt like set-up for the remaining story, but I would not be surprised if the rest of the saga is much better. Be warned, major cliffhanger ending!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Deep Blue is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • Emerge by Tobie Easton – A California mermaid stuck on land due to a curse affecting all the mer is just trying to blend in—until another girl sets her eyes on Lia’s crush, Clay. This girl is dangerous, and Lia must save Clay, despite her parents’ disapproval and the dangers of getting involved. I haven’t read this yet but Tobie is an amazing person and I’m sure this will be great!
  • Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon – A retelling of the fairy tale with both a mermaid and a princess in love with the prince. Lenia is a mermaid who saves a prince’s life. Margrethe is a princess who see a mermaid pull a man to shore, and realizes he is the son of her father’s greatest rival. Margrethe nurses him back to health, hoping for an alliance and true love. Lenia makes a deal with a witch to sacrifice everything for the chance to meet and win over the prince she loves. An interesting take on the traditional fairy tale.
  • Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli – Sirena is a siren whose voice lures sailors to their deaths during the Trojan war. But after one shipwreck, she defies Hera and nurses the only survivor back to health. They fall in love, but does he truly love Sirena, or just her voice? And defying the gods brings its own price. I read this a long time ago and I’d probably appreciate it more now!
  • Tides by Betsy Cornwell – Not mermaids, but selkies, seals that can take on the form of humans but must hide their sealskin in order to change back. Whoever holds their skin controls them. Siblings Noah and Lo spend the summer at their grandmother’s lighthouse, and begin to suspect that a girl Noah rescues from the sea might be a selkie. An atmospheric mystery with excellent writing! See my review here.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Tides | To Live a Thousand Lives

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