|Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga #1) by Jennifer Donnelly, pub. May 2014, 340 pg.|
Jennifer Donnelly has been one of my favorite authors for a very long time. I was beyond excited when I was presented with the opportunity to review her upcoming YA novel, Deep Blue. Not only is it a magical and action-packed story brimming with Donnelly’s characteristic wit and voice, it is also about mermaids. Really, you can’t lose.
Deep Blue is the story of Serafina, the principessa of Miromara. On the day of her Dokimi (the ceremony where she proves her lineage, demonstrates her ability to rule and exchanges betrothal vows with her future husband), she dreams of a prophecy is made predicting a nightmarish future unless Sera can find five others who can help save the merfolk.
I personally haven’t encountered many mermaid books, so this was a really interesting concept to me.
Donnelly does a great job of incorporating the history of the mer people and introducing their culture, politics and lifestyle. While it did take a bit for me to adjust to the necessary changes between mermaid and human stories (i.e., everyone is swimming everywhere, everyone’s bottom half is some type of sea-creature, etc.), once I got used to it, the story was engrossing.
One of my favorite things is the way the merfolk speak. Their use of language incorporates so many ocean-related puns that I was basically beside myself with joy. Money is called “currensea.” Young mer-ladies are called “merls” instead of “girls.” When someone is being a smart aleck, their friends call them a “wise wrasse.” The way the characters speak is incredibly colorful and entertaining, and it adds a lot to the story.
Themes of magic are constantly present in the book. The mer all have at least a little magical ability. Some have intense power that can bend water and create illusions. They cast spells through singing and music, and they can share “bloodsongs” – memories that they physically draw from their bodies.
Not only is Deep Blue full of magic and adventure, it also confronts problems that real-life teenagers face daily. At the beginning of the novel, Sera is harassed by one of her courtiers and has to learn how to deal with others’ opinions of her. She also deals with boy issues, friendship issues and hard family relationships.
Even if you’re not a fan of fantasy, Deep Blue is definitely worth the read. Donnelly’s signature style of writing and fast-paced plot development will appeal to readers of all ages and interests.