You may have noticed that I’m reading a few more YA books than usual. Guilty. Now that #1 is in pre-school he comes home with all these book orders and I can’t resist. I’ve also noticed that when I graduated from University (Go Cougs!) I shortsightedly got rid of my ‘frivolous’ reads and now that my kids are getting ready for real books I am sad that I gave away all my hardcover Harry Potters… So I’ve been trying to get current on what good middle grade or YA books are out there. And this time, I won’t get rid of them so when the kids are old enough… good times. So in case you were dying of curiosity (and I’m sure you were) that is how Deep Blue and I came together. I also have to report that I read Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light and really hated it back in the day when everyone loved it so I was a bit on the fence about this book initially.
Donnelly introduces us into the world of mermaids which is unique. I mean, since The Little Mermaid, has this really been done? If not, bravo Ms. Donnelly. I’m not going to lie, as a little girl my cousins and I LOVED to play mermaids and merbutlers in the ditch and ponds on our property. Sure, there was a bit of confusion concerning the vocabulary, but it was fun. Donnelly’s book has some fun as well. The merworld that she creates is one of warring factions, and royal protocols. Serafina is getting ready to cast her first songspell which is an essential part of her progress as the future ruler of Cerulea. She must cast this spell and if it goes poorly, or if she it is found that she isn’t a true descendent of her mother, well, she could be devoured in front of a whole lot of important spectators. Add an arranged (ish) marriage to Mahdi, former nerd but current party boy, and mysterious dreams about river witches and you have the first few chapters of the book. Donnelly pulls you right into this new world, and while everything is new, she doesn’t belabor the points with long explanations that pull you out of the story. Early in the book Serafina has to flee for her life with her best friend to discover more about the dreams she is having. This adventure leads Serafina into a strange new world that includes humans and monsters and betrayals. Serafina is asked to choose what kind of life she is going to live and if she will sacrifice and be heroic.
Though the reluctant hero and good v. evil is not a foreign plot in fantasy, Donnelly’s world is refreshing and the female protagonist is also interesting. The current climate demands these sorts of tales, but in film and in books, unfortunately we just get the old re-hashed fairytale or tired Disney character plots. Deep Blue is an original work with a message that is positive and compelling. This is a book I’d like my girls to read when they get older. Beware, this IS the beginning of a series and I’d promised myself no more series, but as #2 is keen to tell me, I am the worst. I often do just what I don’t intend to. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.