THE VICIOUS DEEPZoraida Cordova
Paranormal Young Adult
Received from publisher/
Teen Book Scene for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)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.
MY THOUGHTSDespite a title that has our minds conjuring up images of demonic sea creatures who live to drag unsuspecting humans underwater and subject them to any number of cruelties the blue depths are capable of inflicting, the story itself is lighter in tone thanks to a funny and often completely oblivious male protagonist. It’s clear though that while we’re laughing and rolling our eyes at Tristan an unseen darkness moves ever closer, hovering on the periphery and waiting for the ideal moment to strike, erasing the levity and replacing it with a certain amount of gravity as the stakes of Tristan’s quest continue to rise higher and higher. Ms. Cordova blends her humorous moments and her somber ones beautifully, our hearts turning into an emotional kaleidoscopes awash with a myriad of vibrant colors representing our various highs and lows as we witness Tristan’s life get turned completely on its head.
Tristan is a fun protagonist, utterly clueless at times as to how his actions and his habit of not thinking prior to speaking affect those around him (namely his best friend Layla), but luckily as the story progresses it slowly begins to dawn on him just how much of an idiot he’s really capable of being. We can’t help but snort at some of the random things that pop into his head—like what happens to his junk when he has a tail—and it’s his voice that truly keeps us entertained throughout. His newly-realized love for Layla adds a fine layer of tension to this tale, a cloud of awkwardness that’s never been there for the two of them previously suddenly looming over them heavy with things left unsaid, and we continually bite our lips in nervous anticipation as to whether they’ll be able to move past a long-standing friendship and into something more.
While Tristan is an enjoyably flawed hero and his relationship with Layla ripe with romantic potential, the story itself has a tendency to jump around and shift focus quickly, some of the transitions leaving us flipping back a page or two to see if we’ve missed something. Reading can at times leave us feeling like the little silver ball in a pinball machine, pinging back and forth between the discovery that merfolk exist, the friendship/relationship with Layla, the competition for the Sea King’s trident, and a number of other smaller plot elements that continuously vie for our attention throughout. By the end things so seem to smooth out a bit, Tristan’s journey toward earning what is his by birth acting as a compass pointing us in a definitive direction moving forward. Despite the bumpy ride in this first installment, the characters keep us thoroughly amused, kindly paving over some of the potholes that would have been far more noticeable without their charm easing the way.