Book Review: Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Friday 3 October 2014

Deep Blue
Jennifer Donnelly
Genre(s): Fantasy, Mermaids, Young Adult
Published: May 1st 2014
Pages: 368
Rating: 3 stars

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be about reuniting with handsome Prince Mahdi, her childhood crush. Instead she finds herself haunted by strange dreams foretelling the return of an ancient evil, and dealing with the deaths of her parents as assassins storm the betrothal ceremony, plunging the city into chaos.

Led only by her shadowy dreams and pursued by the invading army, Serafina and her best friend Neela embark on a quest to avenge her parents' death and prevent a war between the mer nations. In the process they discover a plot that threatens their - and our - world's very existence.

Going into Deep Blue, I had never read another mermaid book before, so I was quite excited. I enjoy the mythology surrounding mermaids and sirens, and from the prologue I could tell that this would be full of it - because chants, italicised foreign language, and names with accents all over the place can't mean anything else.

However, I found that when the story started it was... boring. And confusing, and childish. It took a lot for me to get through the all the obvious explanations and weird names for things (I usually don't have any problems with this element of fantasy - I've read Game of Thrones, for christ's sake). All I can say is, at least there's a glossary.

Despite the confusion and annoyance I felt whilst reading, I do have to admit that a lot of thought and time has been put into creating such a complex world, for children and teens, no less. And the fact that this is the first in a series is admirable, too. There aren't many fantasy series for younger readers with this amount of depth, so kudos to Donnelly for giving it a shot.

After the initial introductions to things, the story did start to pick up. I enjoyed the action after Sera's Dokimi, and I can see how it started to set things up for later in the story, and maybe even the next book. The slow start and fairy tale-esque descriptions at the beginning masked what I found to be quite a good book. It was full of mermaid myth, a rich and detailed world, goo dialogue, and interesting characters. I understand why things got off on the wrong foot - things have to be established somehow - but I don't think I can forgive it for pulling the rest of the story down with it.

I will be continuing on with the Waterfire Saga, but I can't see it becoming one of my favourite series.


  1. I'm the same way--I haven't really read any mermaid books, either. I think it's just because I feel like I'd have a harder time with its plausibility; for whatever reason, while I can find most fantasy believable, I feel like the whole living-and-breathing-underwater-thing might trip me up. I could be wrong, though, so maybe I should give Deep Blue a try! I don't know too much about mermaid mythology, either, but I do enjoy mythology of nearly all kinds, so I'd probably like that element; plus I've enjoyed Jennifer Donnelly's other YA books. Sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy this one more, though!

    1. I didn't have an issue with the plausibility - I see it as a mutation or sort of vampirism where those who die at sea turn, if it was real, of course - it was more the execution of this. I don't know much of the mythology either, but I love it just just like you, so this was nice to read in that regard because it did have elements of it. However, I don't know if they were 'real' myths or just made up for this series, so I don't think this is a good place to start if you're new to mermaid books. I'd say give it a go and power through it, though, because the set up for the next book was good!

    2. Well, even when the mythology is made up, if it's got that timeless sort of feel I'm good! Hope you'll enjoy the next installment. :)

      (Also, I think you'd subscribed to my blog via email, but the Feedburner widget didn't seem to be working well, so I've replaced it with Jetpack. If you'd like to resubscribe you can do so on my blog now! And if it wasn't you, kindly disregard this message, haha. ;)

    3. Once things really got going the mythology was quite good, so I'd say give it a go! Thanks, I hope I enjoy it too. :)

      (I'm pretty sure I had, so I'll go and resubscribe now. Thanks for letting me know!)


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