Deep Blue: Mini Review + Giveaway

May 29, 2014 2.5 star books, 2014, giveaway, Kim, mermaids, mini reviews, Uncategorized 109 ★★½

Deep Blue: Mini Review + GiveawayDeep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly
Series: Waterfire Saga #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on May 6, 2014
Genres: fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
AmazonIndieboundBarnes & NobleGoodreads
The first in a series of four epic tales set in the depths of the ocean, where six mermaids seek to protect and save their hidden world.

Deep in the ocean, in a world not so different from our own, live the merpeople. Their communities are spread throughout the oceans, seas, and freshwaters all over the globe.

When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin's arrow poisons Sera's mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin's master and prevent a war between the Mer nations. Led only by her shadowy dreams, Sera searches for five other mermaid heroines who are scattered across the six seas. Together, they will form an unbreakable bond of sisterhood and uncover a conspiracy that threatens their world's very existence.

Hello, my lovelies! Well, I’m off being a very busy bee at BEA currently (Are you also here? Do say hello!). But I have an exciting international (!!!) giveaway today for one of the most hyped Spring 2014 releases! Let’s take a look at my thoughts:

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This book was such a surprisingly light read. I was expecting a dark, fantasy epic based on the cover and description, but this one reads much more like MG, and a very light MG at that. For instance, there were a fair amount of puns and lingo that I thought veered toward the very silly. Currency is “currensea” and  a girlfriend is a “merlfriend.” Candies are “bing-bangs” and “zee-zees.” I think your mileage on this book will definitely depend a good amount on your tolerance for this. Mine was not very high.

I do appreciate the obvious thought and depth that Donnelly put into the worldbuilding, but it read as infodump way too often for my liking. It’s a shame because there is a richness to the depth and detail here, almost bordering on eerily atmospheric, but the dry delivery keeps it from ever striking that chord. The characterization also fell a bit flat. The personalities of several of the girls seemed to be indistinguishable and there wasn’t a large amount of growth from the MC. Plot wise so very little actually happens for such a long book. It reads as one long, protracted setup for the actual adventure to begin in the coming volumes. Le sigh.

One of the things that I truly did appreciate here is the theme of sisterhood and the positive portrayal of strong female friendships. The society in this world is also matriarchal and I always enjoy the subversion, especially in fantasy worlds, of typical patriarchal culture. Additionally, each of the 6 mermaids on the quest are from different and varied parts of the globe. Points for diversity and the theme of unity.

So there you have it. I do find with these sorts of books that I’m always so curious to see what my reaction will be. When I see a much hyped book receive a less favorable review it ups the intrigue for me, you know? This is certainly a title worth checking out if you like MG fantasy, enjoy very light, “bubblegum” fantasy, or you find yourself intrigued by the diverse mermaid sisterhood.


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Win an ARC of Deep Blue!

As you can see, I had rather mixed feelings about this book, but it definitely has positive attributes, and we always say you should try things out for yourself to see if you like them. Thanks to our friends at Disney-Hyperion we have an advance copy for you to win!

All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form and leave a comment below telling us why you’re excited to read this title. This contest is international, and open to all readers aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. See entry form for complete rules. Good luck!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this mini-review.

kim teal






109 Responses to “Deep Blue: Mini Review + Giveaway”

  1. Kaylee

    I have never really read any mermaid books besides Deep Blue. It was an okay read but I thought it would have been a little darker or more of a mature read. The puns were different I guess I could say. But I have to say the cover of Deep Blue took its toll on me, and I just had to read it. It wasnt a bad read, but it also wasnt the greatest.

  2. shelley

    I’m looking to read more fantasy books and this one was highly recommended.

  3. Becky

    I absolutely love Jennifer Donnelly’s YA historical fiction, so I’m very interested in reading one that is fantasy.

  4. J. Oh

    I personally haven’t read many mermaid books, and though I predict that my tolerance for the cutesy lingo won’t be much better than yours, I’m curious to try it out! :)

  5. Zaira F

    The only mermaid books I’ve read are the first two books in Anna Banks’ Syrena Legacy (Of Poseidon and Of Triton) and I really enjoyed those. Recently I’ve been looking for more mermaid books, and this has been recommended to me, so I want to check it out :)

  6. Makaela

    I really loved Elizabeth Fama’s novella, but I have yet to read Monstrous Beauty. I am looking forward to seeing how Deep Blue portrays a city aspect of the merpeople.
    Makaela recently posted…May Update & June Releases

  7. Sarah

    I was intrigued by the cover and almost picked it up, but I don’t think I could handle the cutesy puns and lingo, so I’m kind of glad I didn’t now.

  8. Lauren @ Love is not a triangle

    I am very surprised that this book had a MG feel. I definitely expected something a little darker/heavier and I know Donnelly is capable of that. I do like the friendship bonds and the non-traditional society. But though The Little Mermaid pretty much epitomizes my childhood, I’ve struggled with mermaid books. I did get this towel bag at BEA and have been admiring the cover quite a bit. Not sure if I will invest in this but, I will keep an eye on the future series.
    Lauren @ Love is not a triangle recently posted…Take Me On by Katie McGarry

    • Kim

      I was so surprised too! I thought this was going to be this dark, epic, *YA* (and probably mature YA at that) story. Instead it’s maturity level was the total opposite. I really haven’t read any other mermaid books yet. I guess I should be a little grateful to start out low. It can only go up hopefully. So many people speak so highly of MONSTROUS BEAUTY that I’m almost scared to read it. It’s definitely a Kim book but also a book that I really need to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate.

      Ha, the towel bags at BEA were cute but my dislike for the book kept me away. *sigh* If the book had lived up to that beautiful, beautiful cover it would’ve been a fantastic read. sigh sigh.
      Kim recently posted…The Fault in Our Stars: film discussion

    • Kim

      The story definitely has dark moments. But one of the things that I didn’t like was the weird disjointedness of having such a light and juvenile tone only to try to switch into this dark gear occasionally. It just didn’t work for me.
      Kim recently posted…The Fault in Our Stars: film discussion

  9. Bess

    Even though I really love the mermaid stories since The Little Mermaid, I didn’t read any of them except the Forgive my fins by Tera Lynn Childs. So I can’t wait to read more of them.
    Bess recently posted…Kody Keplinger: The Duff

  10. Deirdre

    My favorite mermaid series has to be The Tale of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler.

  11. Meghann

    It’s interesting to see all of the different ideas and takes on mer-tales.

  12. Jamie J

    The only book similar to having mermaids in the was Ashes on the Waves. But those weren’t actually mermaids so otherwise nothing since I was a young child. This book has been on my wishlist/want-to-read list for awhile so it would be great if I were to win.
    Jamie J recently posted…Dread Champion by Brandilyn Collins (review)

  13. E

    Great review, just sad you didn’t like it all that much! Personally, I love mermaids – and would read it for that reason alone! Water and the sea particularly have always felt like a huge part of me, if that makes any sense. Even now, miles from the sea, and not having even been in a swimming pool for a long time, the sea seems to call to me… sounds cheesy, huh? :P Anyway, sorry you didn’t enjoy it too much.
    E recently posted…Mr B’s Reading Year – Burial Rites

  14. Fany Ayanomori

    I love fantasy story.. Especially mermaid story.. >.<
    That's why I'm very interesting with Deep Blue!!
    The cover is really beautiful and synopsis looks interesting

  15. Zorica Cavar

    Thanks for a chance to win this. I love mermaids and haven’t read a lot of books about mermaids, they are so hard to find. This sounds interesting.

  16. Bube

    From the moment I have read the synopsis from this book,I wanted to read :)
    The cover is really wonderful!
    Thank you for the chance :)

  17. Valeria

    I’ve been in love with mermaids since “The little mermaid” old times. I’m always trying to find some mangas and books with them as protagonists but I’ve been really unlucky, at least with books. This one sounds interesting, even though it seems that many didn’t really like it. Just have to find out, now. D:

    • Kim

      Well, if you love TLM you already have great taste! Everyone just raves about Elizabeth Fama’s MONSTROUS BEAUTY (and I know Wendy especially loved this one). I can’t wait to get to it myself. Perhaps you could give it a try.
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  18. Mai Tran

    The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) is the best mermaid book I’ve ever read so far. Thanks for the giveaway.

  19. Jessica Cooley

    This sounds like the perfect book for my niece. Cool mermaids are difficult to find in fiction and while this doesn’t seem like a book for me, she will love it! Thanks for the honest and helpful review.
    Jessica Cooley recently posted…The Feral Child

  20. Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

    Unfortunately for me I couldn’t handle the bubblegum fantasy as you say…and the info dumps. I gave up early on but my friend Tina enjoyed it well enough. Like the way you put your opinions without making it sound awful but just a sort of – it’ll appeal to you if you can handle this sort of thing.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…That’s a Wrap! – May 2014

    • Kim

      Yeah I stuck with it hoping it would get better. It did and it didn’t. It was a frustrating experience all around. Blegh. And I mean, I could tell there was an audience for this book, I just was not part of it. The tone was way too juvenile for me. I know there are people out there who would find the puns super cute and adorable. This book is for those people.
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  21. Blair Rickert

    My little sister loves mermaids– she’s like a crazy cat lady, but her obsession is half fish instead. She even has a mermaid tail that she sometimes wears when we go out to the lake. I’ll be picking up this book so we can read it together. :)

  22. Sashana

    I have read and enjoyed two books by Jennifer Donnelly so I’m very excited for Deep Blue. I know she usually writes historical fiction so I am beyond curious to see what the author does with another genre!

    • Kim

      I haven’t read her other books so I don’t have a basis for comparison. I wish I could help! I’d be intrigued to see what someone who’s read her others thinks of this one since I’m still interested in her other books.
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  23. Pili

    Glad to hear that despite not liking the book too much you still found some things you managed to like!
    I’m quite sure that I’m skipping it. I’m not very much into mermaid books and I’m not sure I’m in the mood for a MG read with so much cuteness + silliness in the form of puns…
    Thank you for the great and honest review, Kim! Hope you had a blast at BEA!
    Pili recently posted…Saturday Pages: Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins!!

  24. Amy

    I’ve never read a mermaid book but I loved the little mermaid when i was younger. I have a digital copy and hoping to get my hands on a physical copy.

  25. Heather Rigney

    I was sad to hear this book was just so-so. I, also, just read another review where the reader was just, meh. I was hoping it would be better. :(

    I noticed a lot of commenters looking for mermaid books. I read a lot of them and I wrote one! Mine is for grown-ups and the mermaid (or merrow–Gaelic for mermaid) in mine is not nice at all. But here’s a few different flavor merbooks for your reading pleasure:

    Merminia (trilogy) by Emm Cole
    Tail of Emily Windsnap (series) by Liz Kessler (this is borderline MG)

    The Marked Ones (The Fairytail Saga) by S.K. Munt
    Waking The Merrow (The Merrow Trilogy) by Heather Rigney

    Hope you enjoy!

    • Kim

      Yeah, this was one of my more anticipated reads for 2014 so the disappointment was doubly so. Ah well. Thank you so much for these recs! I know our readers are definitely on the lookout for some quality mermaid tales. Yikes, I did just do that pun. I couldn’t resist. I’m so sorry.
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  26. Carina Olsen

    Amazing review Kim. <3 I am sorry you didn't fully love the book, though :\ That is always depressing. I have seen so many people disliking this book. Which is why I would like to win the ARC. I want to see if I will dislike it too, lol :D Or if I might love it. <3 My favorite mermaid book is Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama. It is awesome. And Elizabeth is amazing. Anyway. Have an awesome time at BEA, Kim :D And thank you for the post and giveaway. <3
    Carina Olsen recently posted…Review: Winterspell by Claire Legrand

    • Kim

      Totally. If I hadn’t already read it I’d be curious to see what all the negative fuss is about. Being the white sheep can be fun! But alas, it was not to be. And yes, everrrrryone is always gushing about MONSTROUS BEAUTY. I really need to read it. *sigh* That TBR list is never ending.
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

    • Kim

      Yeah it’s kind of stunning how everyone seems to unanimously agree how silly this book is. It *is* an interesting world, though, and there is ton of potential for the series to improve. I fervently hope that it does!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  27. Lucie Zelenska

    Well, I haven’t read any mermaid book yet, but I am really interested in this one. Lately I’m trying to read different books than usual, so I should definitely put some mermaid books to TBR. :)

  28. Lisa @ Lost in Literature

    Oh darn. :( I’m sorry to see this one just didn’t work for you. I didn’t think it would work for me either, so I decided to skip it. The cover is simply gorgeous though! I’ve read a few similar reviews to yours, so you’re definitely not alone. I hope the next book is better for you! :)
    Lisa @ Lost in Literature recently posted…Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

    • Kim

      Thanks, Lisa! It really is a shame about this one. I mean, there is definitely an audience for it, I’m just not part of that audience. It’s so weird to me that this is YA. It reads as MG, why not market it as such? Well, as you say, better luck next time!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  29. Marjolein

    I can understand that those words as merlfriends get a bit irritating, but I’m very curious about this book. I’ve read so many vampire and werewolf books that it would be nice to read something different for a change.

  30. Katie @ Spirit of Children's Literature

    Hope you’re having a lovely time at BEA!

    When I saw this cover and that Jennifer Donnelly had a new book coming out, I was excited! I loved A Northern Light and Revolution, but have read some mixed reviews on this one, so wonder if I will enjoy it as much as the others. However, I really am looking forward to reading it, and was happy to see that you liked the diversity and unity aspects. Thanks for this honest review–and I suppose we’ll see how the next book in the series turns out!
    Katie @ Spirit of Children’s Literature recently posted…Beyond the Borders: Books That Changed My Perspective #Armchair BEA, Day 4

    • Kim

      Thanks, Katie! BEA was great but it totally kicked my ass. I have aches and pains I didn’t know I could even have! BEA hurts! But it’s worth it :)

      I haven’t read any of Jennifer Donnelly’s other books yet so I don’t have a basis of comparison. I have heard such great things, though. The diversity and strong female friendships were such plusses. I just wish the rest of it lived up to those strengths. Fingers crossed you like it much more!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  31. Emma

    My favorite mermaid book is Forgive My Fins! And I really want to read this book because I love fantasy books, and this one looks really good!

  32. Leandra Wallace

    This is the second review I’ve read where the reviewer enjoyed aspects of the story, but wasn’t completely blown away. But I will say that cover- wowee! Makes me want to go swimming in a flowing dress! Tho my hair never looks that good wet. ;) Don’t know if you’ve checked out the WaterFire Saga website for the book, but the main song they have on there, sang by Bea Miller, is one of my new favs.
    Leandra Wallace recently posted…Sweet Reads: The Luck Uglies & Banoffe Pie

  33. Neyra

    I’ve never met a mermaid book i’ve completely fallen in love with, and I’m curious. Who doesn’t love the idea of merpeople? ;)

    • Kim

      Right? There’s something so alluring, magical, and mysterious about those merfolk. And we both need to get some mermaid books in our lives! I’m enjoying all the recs in this thread. You should check them out!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  34. Larissa

    Awww :c it’s sad to hear this one wasn’t as dark and magical as the cover implies. I love mermaids and I’m honestly fascinated by the mythology that surrounds them. That’s why whenever there’s a new mermaid book in YA I get so excited, I really just want to blow me away with it’s immersive underwater world and characters. However it seems like this one is a lot more fluff and fun then dark and magical /: Which is okay, I JUST REALLY WANT A MERMAID BOOK THAT’LL KNOCK MY SOCKS OFF OKAY??? ahaha.

    The humor in this one sounds quite juvenile and frankly immature /: That would be quite annoying to me, it just throws off the whole tone of the book when you got some juvenile humor involved.However, the diversity with the mermaids from different places around the world does sound quite interesting.

    Great review! (:
    Larissa recently posted…Review: 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

    • Kim

      I’ve *loved* mermaids ever since I was a real little kid. Anything, everything “mermaid” is like an instant “givemeit!” What’s weird about this one is that the atmosphere and the worldbuilding very much *want* to be dark and magical, but the tone and the characterization are almost cartoonishly light and superficial. It’s like you say, it throws off the whole darkly mystical tone she is trying to effect. And it just ends up reading so disjointed. Sigh sigh. Everyone says that Elizabeth Fama’s MONSTROUS BEAUTY is the gold standard in YA mermaid books but I haven’t read it yet. Check it out if you haven’t either!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

    • Kim

      You know, for whatever reason I never got into Sailor Moon even though I was quite the anime/manga fan when I was a teenager. One day, though. One day! I think you’re definitely right, though, that there is a bit of the Sailor Moon element here. Well, the best way to know if you’ll like something is to try. Good luck!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  35. Ann

    I love mermaid books! Plus I heard this book was pretty good. =)

    • Kim

      The world building was honestly awesome. It’s such a shame that everything else fell through. I do like light MG reads but not when it seems so awkward and out of place (this is supposed to be YA). *sigh* Better luck next time, right?
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  36. Karin Shaim

    I love many mermaid books ,I don’t have a favorite though

  37. Kate I.

    My favorite book featuring merfolk is THE MERMAN by Carl-Johan Vallgren. Though considered YA, I wouldn’t recommend for tweens due to themes of bullying and abuse, but older teens and grown-ups (like myself) can appreciate this tale concerning the love between siblings.

  38. Barbara

    I have never read any book about mermaids. To be honest, I used to hate Little Mermaid, too. It was to cute for me. Besides, I found Ariel irritating. But recently, I have seen some great pictures with mermaids and I would love to try to change my opinion of them.

    • Kim

      Barbara, what?!! Hating The Little Mermaid?! You speak blasphemy!!! :P That one is such an ultimate childhood favorite for me but I’m not too familiar with other mermaid stories or books. We both have a lot of exploring to do!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  39. Kayla

    I loved one of Jennifer Donneley’s other books and love mermaid novels! I would love to win and review it on my new blog!

  40. Katie F

    I need something light to read after slogging through the Game of Thrones books!

  41. Melinda Christensen

    I found it interesting that Kim had mixed feeling about this book. I would like to read it and get my own opinion. Thanks for the review.

    • Kim

      I haven’t read any Jennifer Donnelly other than this yet, but I have heard great things. So, it does make it weird to me that I had such an indifferent reaction. I am certainly intrigued now to see what I would make of her others…Hmmm, well, I guess we’ll just see then! And thanks! BEA was a blast but so, so exhausting. Whew. I’m so glad to be home and in my own comfy bed again.
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  42. Brenda

    I love that term, “bubblegum fantasy.” It is interesting that the darkness of the cover doesn’t seem to match with the stories light feel. I hope you have a wonderful time at BEA! I hope you’ll come back and tell us what ya thought about it.

    • Kim

      Thanks, Brenda! BEA was incredible!! Ha, “bubblegum fantasy” was definitely a product of my BEA-addled brain. But I’m glad you liked it! :P I will have a BEA recap post up this Thursday! Come back and check it out. :)
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

  43. Sophia D

    Favorite Disney tale is little mermaid and there does not seem to be any current books that have mermaids as the main characters.

    • Kim

      Right? Who doesn’t love The Little Mermaid. If there’s a random person out there who doesn’t like The Little Mermaid I must scowl at you!! I’m not overly familiar with mermaid books myself but people RAVE about and LOVE Elizabeth Fama’s MONSTROUS BEAUTY. Check it out perhaps?
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time

    • Kim

      It was definitely so weird to me that the cover and the content were so disjointed. Ah well. They can’t all be winners! BEA was amazing!! But exhausting. Whew! I’ll have a post up about it later this week!
      Kim recently posted…Classic MG Discussion: A Wrinkle in Time