Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga #1)
The first in a series of four epic tales set in the depths of the ocean, where six mermaids seek to protect and save their hidden world.
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.
About three years ago, I had read Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light, a historical fiction novel based on a real story. I had hopes for Deep Blue because I had seen it featured in magazines and at the library, and it is the first YA novel about mermaids I've read (excluding books where the existence of mermaids is mentioned but none of the main characters are one). However, this book wasn't my cup of tea and would recommend it to a younger audience.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE middle grade. I mean, hello, Rick Riordan books, Shannon Hale's books, Harry Potter, CHERUB, The Sisters Grimm, Artemis Fowl, I could go on and on. But there's difference between geared-to-12-year-olds and plain childish.
The story and characters had so much potential - Sera's relationship with her mother, the restrictions and responsibilities of royalty, the balance between modernity and archaic customs like arranged marriages, the history of Atlantis and how it became the kingdoms, the myths as opposed to their reality (like the belief that the witches didn't exist), prophecies as opposed to making your own future- there's really no end to the themes I thought we'd explore in Deep Blue.
The book fell short of all of that. The girls weren't stupid, but acted surprisingly immaturely for 16 year olds who should have been used to responsibility and political mayhem. They were also able to focus on girly little details at inappropriate times. In addition to all that, I felt the book skipped over what should have been a complicated process of mourning for all that was lost, including people close to them. I've had this complaint before (City of Heavenly Fire) - I understand that authors need to move their plot along, but I feel this isn't some detail that can be omitted. I do not speak from experience (I count my blessings) but I think grieving exposes a lot of who we are, besides of course being an unavoidable part of being human (or possessing a human-like consciousness in this case). It's also plain unrealistic that these girls lose their families and continue to talk about candy and dress up (I don't mean all throughout the book, and I know that people deal with things differently, but I just didn't buy this.
Also, Neela and Sera were very spoiled as princesses, yet had no problem living off nothing very suddenly, and were genuinely EXTREMELY NICE AND SWEET with not an ounce of snobbery or bitterness or even discomfort. Mmmmm. I think the best demonstration of what real royalty to rags would be like is Shannon Hale's The Goose Girl.
The plot was very simplistic, as were the characters. Lacking all of the above, I guess I just found Deep Blue somewhat... lacking in depth(;