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Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly Review

Title: Deep Blue

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

First published May 6, 2014

340 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9781423133162 (ISBN10: 1423133161)

Rating: 3.83


The crown of Miromara is a heavy burden for Serafina, but she has been preparing her whole life to take on the role of queen. As she nears the Dokimí ceremony, an ancient evil begins to stir in her dreams.

Though she tries to push it aside, events quickly spiral out of control when her mother, Isabella, is wounded by an assassin’s arrow. Serafina and her best friend Neela must team up with other mermaid heroines to uncover the truth behind the attack and prevent a war between the mer nations.

With danger lurking around every corner, Serafina will learn that true strength comes from the unbreakable bond of sisterhood.

About the Author

Jennifer Donnelly has authored thirteen novels, including Poisoned, Stepsister, Lost in a Book, and These Shallow Graves, as well as a picture book for children called Humble Pie. She co-authored Fatal Throne, which examines the lives of King Henry VIII’s six wives, and wrote the part of Anna of Cleves, Henry’s fourth wife.

Jennifer grew up in Lewis and Westchester counties in New York State and studied English Literature and European History at the University of Rochester.

Jennifer’s first novel, The Tea Rose, is an epic historical novel set in London and New York in the late 19th century. The book was praised by Booklist and the Washington Post, and named a Top Pick by the Romantic Times.

The Rose trilogy continued with The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose. Jennifer’s second novel, A Northern Light, is set in the Adirondacks of 1906 and won numerous awards, including the Carnegie Medal and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Revolution, named a Best Book by Amazon, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and the Chicago Public Library, was nominated for a Carnegie Medal. Jennifer also teamed up with Disney to launch the bestselling Waterfire Saga, a series about six mermaids on a quest to rid the world of an ancient evil.

Jennifer returned to historical fiction with Fatal Throne, a book about Henry VIII and his six wives. She joined six other authors for the project, including Candace Fleming, M.T. Anderson, Stephanie Hemphill, Deborah Hopkinson, Linda Sue Park, and Lisa Ann Sandell.

Editoral Review

Jennifer Donnelly’s 2014 young adult novel, Deep Blue, is a gripping and beautifully atmospheric piece of maritime fantasy. Known for works such as A Northern Light and The Tea Rose, Donnelly has once again demonstrated her skills as a master storyteller with this enchanting tale.

The novel takes place in a world where mermaids – or “merfolk” – are a vital part of the ecosystem, interacting with both the above and underwater realms. However, when the kingdom of Maritopia faces a dire threat, it is up to six mermaids from different corners of the ocean to band together and embark on a dangerous quest to save their home.

The plot of Deep Blue is filled with twists and turns as the mermaid protagonists navigate treacherous waters, battle sea monsters, and confront their own personal demons. Donnelly’s world-building is also a particular highlight, with the underwater kingdom of Maritopia coming to life in vivid detail, populated with merfolk, dolphins, and other aquatic creatures.

Donnelly’s writing is both lyrical and accessible, capturing the wonder and terror of the underwater world while also grounding it in relatable human emotions. The protagonists are each distinct and fleshed-out with their own motivations and strengths, and the themes of identity, friendship, and self-discovery are woven seamlessly into the story.

However, Deep Blue is not without its limitations. While the plot is engaging, there are moments where the pacing drags, particularly in the early chapters.

Additionally, the plot twists and turns can feel a bit predictable at times, and some of the world-building details are a bit muddled. Despite these shortcomings, Deep Blue is a powerful and unforgettable read with plenty to offer both young adult and adult readers.

Its exploration of identity, friendship, and environmentalism feels particularly relevant in today’s world, and Donnelly’s lush prose and compelling characters make for a truly immersive reading experience. For fans of other popular young adult fantasy series such as The Hunger Games or The Mortal Instruments, Deep Blue is a must-read.

However, even casual readers looking for a thrilling adventure story with a unique setting and strong female leads will find plenty to enjoy in this enchanting novel. Overall, Deep Blue earns a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

While not flawless, it is a book that will stay with readers long after they’ve turned the final page.

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