Monday, 21 April 2014

Review: Deep Blue

Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga #1) by Jennifer Donnelly

Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe.

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother.

Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

My Thoughts:  

Deep Blue was not what I was expecting. I picked this up thinking it was going to be a rich and mysterious take on mermaids with some sort of, I don't know, kickass underwater battles with watery assassins and some sort gothic magicky craft - something like that anyway. Now looking back, I am laughing at myself for imagining Deep Blue to be so damn awesome.

The info-dumping at the beginning is enough to put most readers off. We are simply bombarded with new terms and words and titles, most of which are in an olden mer tongue that has to be awkwardly translated within the dialogue. The characters then talk with a bunch of untranslated mer slang so we are left even more clueless. All of this added to a bunch of confusing political dramas, leaves us wondering what the hell just happened.

The characters weren't much of a pick me up. They lacked depth and we were allowed only to see their surfaces, the very edge of their personalities. Their stories, their backgrounds, their thoughts and everything that would allow us to really get to "know" them, was glossed over in favour of their part in the plot. We learn little about Becca's part of the prophecy but what did we learn about her? Its the same with the other five girls and most of the other characters too.

Dismissing all of this (including the dull plotline on top of it all) what had me shaking my head and cursing most of all was the obvious lack of research and thought into the new mermaid culture that
Jennifer Donnelly tried to establish. At the very least, it had me chuckling with the stupidity of it all so in a way, it was kind of amusing - but I mean squid ink lipstick? Abalone shell powder? Mussel-shell eye shadow? How would that even stay on - would makeup not wash off underwater? And maps - how are you supposed to be reading maps and writing down notes on parchment underwater? The paper would turn soggy and wouldn't the ink simply float away? Things like this, among other things like trimming hair and it falling to the floor (it would float underwater!) showed a rather apparent lack of thought into to the realistic logistics of living underwater.

Saying this I did, however, enjoy parts of the foundational mythology of the merfolk. I love how the author thought to incorporate Atlantis into the history of Miromara and I did appreciate the effort of trying to create an original mythological realm.

However, I was bored during the entire course of the book. The plot was too dull and the characters to shallow for me be engaged. I have to say that I am disappointed. I read that there are a few more sequels (three more?) planned for the Waterfire Saga already and even though I might check them out in the future, just to see how everything turns out, I won't be looking forward to them.

Note: a copy was provided courtesy of Jennifer Donnelly and Hachette Children's Books, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was given or taken during this process

2.5 stars

*Released: 6th of May, 2014

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