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Monday, April 07, 2014

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Deep Blue is the first book in the Waterfire Saga, a series that Disney-Hyperion is heavily promoting and they seem to think that Deep Blue could be the next big thing. I really enjoyed reading Deep Blue and this was such a fun, entertaining read. While Deep Blue is one of the best mermaid books I've read, I don't really think it lives up to the hype and that it has the potential to become a phenomenon. Deep Blue doesn't really deviate enough from other YA books for it to be able to resonate with readers.

Deep Blue is the story of Seraphina whose mermaid world is being threatened and so she is caught in a betrothal with Prince Madhi, a philanderer who Seraphina refuses to fall in love with. When Serafina's home is attacked and her mothered is attacked, she must flee and try to find the 5 other mermaids to save the only world she's ever known. According to a prophecy, only Seraphina and her companions can save the world and themselves from a great and terrible evil.

Serafina isn't a very memorable character and there really isn't much to distinguish her from countless other strong and powerful heroines. I did enjoy reading how music factored into Seraphina's life and how she learned to harness her magical abilities, but other than that Seraphina feels very dry and bland. I really wanted to root for her, but her character is superficially drawn out and there's not much that I really found unique about her. I really felt this disconnect between myself and Seraphina, mostly like due to the fact that this book is written in the 3rd person; I truly wanted to understand her character better, but I really feel like the 3rd person POV was restrictive and didn't allow for much characterization.

I really wanted to understand the mers on Serafina's quest better and I feel their characters were even more flat than Serafina's. It seemed like the other mers were extremely uninteresting and weren't special at all, despite the fact that they were the "chosen ones".  I felt like these characters were more concerned with their hair and boy mers while on the run than actually saving the mer world. The only character who I found intriguing was Prince Madhi,  - breaks stereotypes, sleeps around, has earring, isn't Prince Charming

I feel like one of my biggest issues with Deep Blue was suspending my disbelief; a good fantasy writer makes readers forget about the real world and immerses them completely in a strange, unique world. Donnelly is definitely an adept writer, but I always felt this nagging sense of disbelief when it came down to the intricate details. If Serafina and her fellow "mers" (as Donnelly refers to her mermaid creations) don't have contact with the human world, why do they utilize slang that feels like a watered-down, awkward version of human jargon? I also don't understand how the mers used electrical human technology underwater, which seems like a silly issue but it really seemed to bother me (if they had claimed something ridiculous like it was operated by magic, I would've been satisfied).  I was never all that interested in the world Donnelly had created and if I had, all those gritty details probably wouldn't have bothered me.

Though Deep Blue is being marketed for a Young Adult audience, it feels more childish as if it's better suited for a middle-grade audience. The dialogue in this book is way too simple and feels a bit too cutesy for my tastes; I truly expected Donnelly to write stronger dialogue after hearing so much praise for her novels. The characters truly don't seem to act their age and they seem more like pre-teens than young adults who are on the brink of adulthood.

Deep Blue is an interesting, addicting series opener, but it suffers from a troubling amount of flaws in terms of characterization and writing style. My interest was piqued enough for me to pick up the sequel, but I can't see this being the next big thing. Though Deep Blue is one of the better mermaid books, I don't think it measures up to some of my favorite paranormal books.

Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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