You know I love to recommend books around these parts + now that summer has officially hit, it’s that time of year when all the best beach read lists are gracing the internet. Don’t you worry; I have a few things up my sleeves when it comes to that but let’s talk about an ocean read, shall we?
A few weeks ago, I read DEEP BLUE by Jennifer Donnelly; it’s book 1 in a series about mermaid teenagers joining forces to bring peace to the waters. When a violent attack halts the day Serafina is due to perform in front of her kingdom’s congregation and reunite with her betrothed, the novel quickly shifts. Instead of battling nerves about her impending romance and self-afflicted pressure to please her mom, Serafina is forced to understand her foreboding dreams as she teams up with her best friend (the creative and candy obsessed Neela) to bring safety into the seas again.
There’s no better way to describe DEEP BLUE better than to pair story with Disney Park attractions, right?
I knew it!
Here we go:
the obvious: under the sea journey of the little mermaid
I’m sure it’s not surprising that Serafina reminded me a bit of Ariel. Not totally. Ariel was a bit more outgoing than Serafina, but as she preps to performs songspells in front of her entire kingdom (including her mother, the Queen) I was thinking of that early scene in The Little Mermaid where all of Ariel’s sisters are depending on her to show up. Instead the catastrophe that takes place in Deep Blue is more on the tragic and dangerous side and alters Serafina’s journey in the book significantly. Pretty immediately, Serafina is forced to find her bravery and make decisions that she never had to before. What does she go next? Can she protect her best friend? Does she have the strength and knowledge to lead? (This part reminded me of The Princess Diaries.)
the bad guys: pirates of the caribbean
If you’re like me, you might not even think that the pirates included in this attraction are actually BAD guys. But there’s fire and selling of ladies (redheads) and stealing! (Just listen to the song; it’s all there.) Like Serafina, we’re not sure who are enemies are in Deep Blue. As she swims and swims through the ocean, connecting with other mermaids who may be the key to survival, she’s also coming into contact with others, wondering if they are trustworthy and have their best interest at heart. How do you know if someone is filled with good intentions or bad? That’s a good question.
friendship for everyone: it’s a small world
I was upset the other day because DEEP BLUE was shelved under “Romance” in the Young Adult section at Barnes & Noble. While there is some talk of romance in the early chapters of the book (Serafina actually has a crush on her betrothed, who has changed a lot), all talk of love takes a backseat when the opening ceremony does not go as planned. Instead, there is a huge emphasis on friendship between Serafina and Neela, two mer-gals who are already best friends, and the rest of the mer-gals they meet along the way. Hooray for a diverse group of girls with distinct personalities and looks. While Serafina and Neela’s connection is central to the book, I liked watching as these mermaids got to know each other in a dangerous situation. They had to be quick to trust each other if they wanted the best possible outcome from their partnership. A difficult task (on top of others), for sure.
Final thoughts: If you are looking for friendship and adventure, DEEP BLUE has it all. The world building is actually really great (I wasn’t expecting this) and there are a lot of adorable and clever terms throughout. (Some of them made me laugh outloud.) The book reads a little younger so I would recommend it to early YA readers and I think it might be a fun pick for a parent to read to their kids at bedtime. (Would definitely build the suspense when you stop at one chapter a night.)
Ultimately, it was so refreshing to read an adventure book focused so heavily on the strengths and bravery of many ladies bonding and working together. And what’s more synonymous with summer than the ocean?!
Copy of book provided by Disney Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!