Book Info: Young Adult Paranormal, Received via NetGalley, Available in HC, 384 pages
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
This year mermaids are poised to make a splash on the YA book scene. (Sorry, couldn’t resist) And there are several mermaid-themed books I have my eye on to read this summer. The Vicious Deep sets itself apart by featuring a merman rather than a mermaid. Lifeguard Tristan is a confident, flirty, sarcastic guy with a dry wit who has a crush on his unattainable best friend Layla. But he has bigger things to worry about when he wakes after a freak near drowning and finds himself in a fishy situation. Now this merdude is in line to inherit the sea kingdom should he accept the challenge.
Zoraida Cordova’s debut starts off with a bang and won me over right away. Cordova nailed the voice of the male protagonist Tristan and the story starts off fresh and funny. Tristan’s dialogue is witty and realistic and he acts like such a dude, flaws and all. I thought his inner dialogue was really clever and one of my favorite parts of the book. Loved his reactions to his new circumstances.
In addition to Tristan, there are several other sea creatures to help him on his quest. A couple of merfolk posing as his cousins come to Brooklyn to mentor him, and join him in high school. I always like the fish out of water scenario and it reminded me a little of Splash at the beginning. I especially liked Tristan’s charming cousin Thalia. There is a large cast of colorful sea and otherworldly creatures that Tristan encounters and in fact, it was hard to keep track of them all at times.
I really liked the first half of the book and Tristan getting acclimated to his situation. After the first part though it felt like the book veered off track and I had trouble staying invested. The story makes quick jumps to different settings and situations and the pacing just felt off. There is a lot of story potential there with the sea kingdom and romantic situation but towards the end it just wasn’t holding my interest and I was skimming pages. There is more action in the second half of the book but I think I just preferred the humorous tone of the first half.
Despite the pacing, there are some interesting characters and fresh dialogue in the kickoff to the Vicious Deep series. I will be curious to see how things play out in the sequel The Savage Blue.
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