Book Reviews

[review] Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

18601430Release Date: May 6, 2014
Publisher: Disney Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: ARC provided by publisher in exchange for honest review

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.

Tell Me More: For a story in which an entire race is at stake, Deep Blue is surprisingly light in tone and substance. As entertaining as some of the scenes and jokes could be, they weren’t quite enough to stir lasting emotions in me.

The way that Deep Blue was marketed made it seem like its core audience would be the older spectrum of YA readers. Serafina’s voice was younger than I had expected it to be, and the writing style itself seemed geared towards kids starting out in the fantasy/paranormal genre. Puns are generously scattered throughout the story, but as much as I love a good pun, it didn’t take long for them to grate at me.

“I was talking about the crown prince and his merlfriend,” she said. “Well, his latest one.”
“His…his merlfriend?”

An excerpt from Walt Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” leads into the intriguing prologue, but the story doesn’t manage to sustain its own momentum. The first few chapters are burdened by exposition and history, weighing the reader down with facts and names before they can start to care about the characters they’re meeting. I would have much rather watched Serafina struggle with her songspell than read about her gossiping court. Again, this would probably work better for younger readers, who may have more need to build the world in their head before they can get invested.

The mysterious quest that Serafina and Neela is interesting enough, but it never felt all that compelling. I read mostly for the interactions between the two girls and the emphasis on friendship and sisterhood, especially since the romance remains flat. There are few surprises and plot twists, and even the ones that are meant to be game-changers are predictable. At the end of the day, the mermaids in Deep Blue weren’t captivating enough to hook me into the series.

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Jennifer DonnellyAbout Jennifer

Jennifer Donnelly is the author of five novels – Revolution, A Northern Light, The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose – and Humble Pie, a picture book for children. She grew up in New York State, in Lewis and Westchester counties, and attended the University of Rochester where she majored in English Literature and European History.

Jennifer lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, daughter, and three rescue dogs.

Add Deep Blue on Goodreads | Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenWritesBooks | Visit Jennifer’s website

Order Deep Blue from Book Depository | Chapters

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