Deep Blue is unique in that it isn’t about a mermaid longing to be topside. It has interesting and unexpected twists. But some of the story can be frustratingly juvenile. Serafina is the daughter of the ruler of Miromara. Only women govern in this undersea kingdom, and Sera is next in line. When we first meet her, she is getting ready for the Dokimi, the ceremony in which she is proven to be the blood relation to her mother, Queen Isabella. If all goes well, she then has to perform her songspell in front of all of the guests. And then she takes her betrothal vows where she promises to wed Madhi and to give the realm a daughter. She’s anxious about all of those things, especially since she has not seen Madhi in two years. And a frightening dream has been troubling her; something about river witches and an evil creature lurking in a cage.
After her songcasting, they are attacked; her father is killed, her mother mortally wounded. Suspicion is placed on a nearby kingdom, and Sera and her best friend, Neela, are told to escape. It’s when Neela tells Sera that she’s been having the same nightmare that they start to put the pieces together. And instead of hiding, they know they have to come together and fight – the way they were destined to.
There’s a lot to like about this (cough) tail; mermaids wanting to stay mermaids; a trick with mirrors; the trip up the river; the good merfolk vs bad; the rumors, lies and trouble uncovered. But the thing that keeps me from doing one of those whale flops is this: there seems to be a lot of time spent on turning certain words and phrases into ones that sound more sea-like. I wish I had written more down, but here’s a few that made me roll my eyes (particularly after seeing them more than once):
- They had traitors in their family coral (you know, family tree)
- Love conchs (conchs were sort of like recording devices)
- Dance strokes
- Merboy (once, OK; but after that? No.)
- Currensea (money)
- Kick wrasse (a wrasse is a type of fish; this was used every time istead of “ass.”)
There was a lot of foreign language, too; I assume that since these merfolk were located in the Aegean Sea, that’s why many words were in Italian. The other major language used was Romanian (I’m sorry, I don’t remember). I don’t normally have a problem with this, but it sometimes was jarring considering the teen mermaids/boys seemed to speak American English. Please don’t get me started on all of the made-up words for the candy they ate. And now that I mention it, there was just too much detail regarding what they ate. We get it; they are mermaids. They eat what’s under the sea. Got it.
As a reader, it’s hard to know what’s important when there is a preponderance of specification, including the names of people. I assume if I am given the first and last names of a character, I must remember it as they reappear in some form or fashion in the story. Now, I understand that this isn’t always true, but usually. So when that’s their only entry, it seems like we could have done without the introduction. One reason to go there is if they may reappear in a subsequent volume. Which brings me to…
OH NO YOU DI’INT. The down side to reading a book on a tablet is that you don’t have a constant visual regarding how many pages there are left. So when you’re reading along and the book suddenly stops, it’s surprising (to say the least), when you are in the middle of the action. Now, this book certainly wasn’t as bad as other books I have read that have opened a can of tubeworms (and answered nothing) by the close of the book, but let’s say I wasn’t expecting it.
I am really on the fence (or the merfolk equivalent, whatever that may be) as to whether I will continue the series. I’d sure like to hear from those of you who maybe agree with me just the tiniest bit and did read on and liked it. Until then, I will be here, hanging with the rest of the terragoggs.
Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly was published May 6, 2014 by Scholastic Inc. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to the Publisher, the Author and NetGalley.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Fantasy Action/Adventure Romance Series
Ages: 13 and up
COYER Scavenger Hunt #17: Read a book with the word BLUE in the title. (2 points)