The Vicious Deep
By Zoraida Córdova
THE MERMAID CRAZE in YA fantasy inevitably began after our love affair with contemporary, everyday vampires who “just want to fit in.” Well, mermaids want to hang out in high school forever, too. I’ve had some hits and misses with mermaid books. Lost Voices by Sarah Porter was cool because it was a haunting story about sisterhood, where innocent drowned girls turned savage after “death.” Of Poseidon by Anna Banks was less my thing because I found the characters stereotypical and the plot contrived. I worried the same thing would happen with The Vicious Deep but I was pleasantly surprised. This is a fun story, and I want to see how the trilogy turns out.
Tristan Hart gets sucked out to sea by a tidal wave. He survives, but now he is haunted by dreams of a vicious silver mermaid. The sea holds the answers, and Tristan will need them—especially after he grows a fish tail in the bathtub. With the help of his best friend and long-time crush, Layla, Tristan dives deep into an underwater kingdom full of wonder and peril.
You don’t usually read stories about a teenage guy turning into a mermaid—excuse me, merman. That caught my interest. Also, Tristan was funny and endearing. His awkward conversation with his stoic mentor, Kurt, about where their junk goes and how they get it on as mermen was pretty entertaining. He’s very determined and protective of his family and friends. Overall, he’s a nice change in the genre from the typical outcast, woe-is-me type hero. He reminds me of a more grown-up version of Percy Jackson.
Layla, his love interest, was kind of a let-down. It’s very difficult for fantasy authors to introduce a “normal human” as a main character and keep them that way without them becoming useless. Oftentimes they end up as helpless objects that the hero must save. Although the author attempted to empower Layla by having her face down other merfolk with her attitude and “athletic” skills, I wasn’t buying it. Luckily Gwen and Thalia were awesome.
The world-building felt a bit jumbled and underdeveloped. The author had just introduced this cool underwater kingdom of the merfolk to us—but suddenly there were witches and vampires and werewolves and what-have-you running around, too. It felt unnecessary and took attention away from developing the merfolk world.
The villainous silver mermaid doesn’t do much besides stalk Tristan in this book, but she’s intriguing enough to make me want to continue the series. Overall, this book is adventurous underwater quest fun.
Recommended for Fans of: Julie Kagawa, Richelle Mead, Rick Riordan
Upcoming Book Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu