Title: Deep Blue
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Series: Waterfire Saga, #4
Format: Hardback, bought
My rating: 4 / 5
Serafina, daughter of Isabella, Queen of Miromara, has been raised with the expectation - and burden - that she will someday become ruler of the oldest civilization of the merfolk. On the eve of the Dokimí ceremony, which will determine if she is worthy of the crown, Sera is haunted by a strange dream that foretells the return of an ancient evil. But her nightmare is forgotten the next day as she diligently practices her songspell; eagerly anticipates a reunion with her best friend, Neela; and anxiously worries about Mahdi, the crown prince of Matali, and whether his feelings toward her and their future betrothal have changed. Most of all, she worries about not living up to her mother's hopes.
The Dokimí proceeds, a dazzling display of majesty and might, until a shocking turn of events interrupts it: an assassin's arrow wounds Isabella. The realm falls into chaos, and Serafina's darkest premonitions are confirmed. Now she and Neela must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the mer nations. Their search will lead them to other mermaid heriones scattered across the six seas. Together they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood as they uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.
-- As seen on Goodreads
Don’t you love it when impulse buys pay off? I spotted Deep Blue when I was on holidays in the States last year and I just had to get it. It’s been sitting on my shelves unread since then, and on a whim, I decided to give it a try at the end of March. Beyond the characters being mermaids, I had absolutely no idea what the story was going to be about and it really paid off – I kinda loved it!
Deep Blue lies on the younger side of the Young Adult scale, dipping into an almost Middle Grade vive occasionally. I usually read, and prefer, more mature YA, but in this instance, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story. I feel like the beginning doesn’t really do it justice, though! I sort of liked the book up to the hundred page mark, but I loved it from that point on. Everything started to change and the mood of the book began to shift, and in a way the story began maturing into a full-fledged YA story focusing on friendship. Honestly, it was a bit deceiving with all the romance talk at the beginning! I absolutely LOVED that any romantic vibes that cropped up early on faded away with the friendships between the main female characters taking over.
I liked all the characters that were introduced to us, but Seraphina, Neela and Astrid were the ones that held my attention the most. The friendship between Sera and Neela was so sweet and genuine, and I really wish that female friendships similar to this were the norm in YA. It was nice to see a bit of girl-power for a change, plus, it all seemed genuine and not added just as a token gesture to fill friendship quotas. And not to forget the diversity! It was awesome to see merfolk from all over the world represented, with different abilities, disabilities, and backgrounds.
I really liked the mythology that was created, and I’m really curious to find out more. Also, all the Atlantis references will always get extra brownie points from me! The book did take a little while to settle into its groove. We got a lot of background information and set up for the first hundred pages or so: it was all necessary to the overall story, but the info-dumping portion wasn’t that subtle. Once we got past this, I thought the pacing was consistent, with a nice balance of world-building and plenty of action sprinkled throughout to keep you on your toes.
Overall, I really enjoyed Deep Blue and I’m so glad the gorgeous cover caught my eye. If, like me, you haven’t read a lot of books about mermaids and are curious about them, I think Deep Blue would be a really good starting point. It has a bit of a Disney-vibe, so if you liked The Little Mermaid, then definitely give this a shot!