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Friday, April 20, 2012

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova

The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova
 Amazon | Goodreads
Fantasy: Mermaids, 384 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks Fire
For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.

He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.

His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.

Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.

The Vicious Depp dammit every time Deep popped up on my radar when this happened, and from that point, I knew I had to read it.  And by the time that un-happened and a new cover was born, it was so firmly planted in my to-read wishlist that I found myself becoming a member of the Bloggers of the Deep street team.  (I kid you not.  There's a little badge right over there to prove it ------------> )
And for that, I am glad.

The Vicious Deep is a very engaging, somewhat unusual take on mermaids. Riding the crest of the wave of what looks to be a pretty good mermaid craze, TVD forgoes the expected female heroine and her mysteries of the deep, and follows instead an unsuspecting male lead who finds himself in over his head.  [You see what I did there?  Okay, I'll stop.]  Tristan is likeable: charmingly flawed, self-deprecating yet cocky, typical teenage fuck-up and stunner all in one.  He's one of those guys that, even while you know they're playing you, you can't help but sigh and bat your lashes.  That guy.  And because of that, when he finds himself tossed into this completely unexpected situation where he has to actually put himself out there and try at something that had never even entered his head, it comes together with the way he'd begun to think about his life and trying there, too.  And it just works.

His narration is nearly pitch-perfect.  It had a very friend-like feel, like chatting with your besties and the jackasses you hung out with as a teen.  It's a little colloquial and just - authentic feeling, for the most part.  (I'm not now, nor have I ever been, a teenage boy who has just found out he's a mermaidman, so I can't speak to how completely authentic it is...)  It's just very funny and cheeky and teenagery in a not-so-angsty way (and AMEN for that).  The voice is just great.  It played well off of the other characters, too, which I think was one of the strong points of the novel.   I really enjoyed the characters and their interactions, and the fact that there is some gray area within them. Tristan is not always a shining hero, (for all that he is shiny), and some of the more dubious, possibly villainous characters turn out to be pretty okay (I love Gwen! #GwenFTW!)

The characters draw you in, but I think the story is enjoyable in other respects, too.  At its heart, it's a good, rollicking adventure story with a bit of heart and charm at the core; a thread of romancifulness and a dash of badassery.  It's something that will appeal to both genders, I think, and could easily transition to the big screen.  It's a bit of a more grown-up Percy Jackson - a little less wholesome and cutesy, and a little more...vicious, with a mythology all its own and solid, enjoyable world-building.

For awhile, I was held back a little bit by the necessity of the story. There were questions, the foremost being, Why does Tristan need to become Sea King?  Why should he even care, and how is he in ANY way qualified?  (I come from a Kingless place, you'll remember.  We stopped believing in de jure divine some time ago...)  But where so many YA books wouldn't have addressed it, Córdova DID, and that won me over big time.  Someone flat-out asks Tristan why he gives a flying fuck (? swimming shi-..nevermind), and he actually does stop to consider the choice he could make (to ignore it, to let someone else deal with it, to wonder what his place is in all of it), and then makes a decision based on heart and instinct.  I respected that; not only that he is choosing to go down this path, but that he (and Córdova)  recognizes that there would be questions and other paths, and that thought does need to go into the decision.  This got points, friends.  Points* in the meaningless scoreboard that is my head.

I have to say, there will be those that are put off by the fact that there's a lot of build up for not all that much accomplished in the end.  I don't want this to sound like nothing happens; I just mean there's a lot still in the air at the end, and the story has really just begun. But it's a trilogy, so that's something any regular reader should see coming a mile (fathom?) away. Also, I think it made for good world-building, and things would have been much less believable and weighty if everything had been solved in this book and tied up with a pretty little bow.  Things can happen a little quicker now in the rest of the series, and still have a good foundation as a result of the time spent building the story in this first book.  So I didn't have an issue with where things stand at the end, but it just bears mentioning, I think.

So yeah.  The Vicious Deep.  Fun for a girl and a boy.  (Though I still wish it had this cover.  Though I know it would pretty much mean =/= fun for boys, cause they'd never pick it up...)

*1000 points redeemable for a slinky or sticky slap-hand.  Winners choice!

Don't forget to check out my guest vlog on merbits from Zoraida, and enter to win a copy of The Vicious Deep! (ends May 5th)

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  1. Haha, I did see what you did there! And Johnny Depp is awesome. :)

    I love the idea of a male lead for a mermaid book- definitely something different.

    My latest FTF post is here.

  2. I wondered what Bloggers of the deep was about. I was going to check into it b/c I'm loving the siren/selkie/merpeople stories and there are a lot! I read a great one last night!!

    So glad this is good because I wanted to read it. I was a little put off by the cover, it makes it look a little childish. I like the old cover better. But then I read an excerpt. It was great! So I'm fully on board (I did it kinda too since he's a lifeguard)!



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