Review of Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga, #1)Deep Blue (Waterfire Saga #1)
By: Jennifer Donnelly
Release Date: May 6th 2014
Publisher: Disney Press
Source: ARC

A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

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.

My Thoughts:
For me, I was most absorbed with the beginning of Deep Blue because of the introduction to this complex world and our main character, Serafina. I enjoyed the descriptions of her daily life and the interactions she had with her mother and friends. Sadly, I felt that the majority of characters lacked any real depth. As the story progressed more and more characters were haphazardly thrown together. The speed (and convenience) in which they met did not lend itself to rich character development and lacked to provide the chemistry I desired.

I did appreciate the multitude of mermaid types, each coming from a different region of the ocean. I wish more details could have been given about each of their homelands (fingers crossed we’ll see more in the future books).

At times, I felt that the dialog seemed pretty simplistic and more typical of middle grade than young adult. Donnelly did throw in some cute puns and played on stereotypes like a crazy cat lady (in this book a crazy catfish lady). Parts of this story did fall on the silly side at times so more serious readers (like myself) might not respond as well. The romance was for the most part absent though there are some illusions to romance that I think will be further explored later in the series.

It was evident that Donnelly had a wealth of imagery and details about the world to work from and this added a lush backdrop to the story. Even though there was a wealth of description I struggled to feel or visualize this story taking place in the ocean.  I could never accurately visualize the clothing described being underwater (how does anyone wear a dress underwater effectively?) or the creatures inhabiting this world.

Final Thoughts:
Regardless of all the negatives I pointed out I did enjoy reading Deep Blue. I had expectations of a much darker tale than the one given but once I was able to alter my frame of mind I was able to enjoy the story and take the book for what it was, a light, fun read that didn’t take itself too seriously.

Check out Jennifer Donnelly’s playlist for Deep Blue


  1. says

    Crazy catfish lady? I don’t know whether to laugh or be horribly offended. I LOVE cats, and catfish are disgusting bottom feeders. *frowns* Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed this despite your issues. I’ll probably read this just b/c I have it already, but I’m not feeling great about it with the middle grade dialogue . . .

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    • says

      I actually don’t know much about catfish. Yeah, it was enjoyable but not nearly as in depth emotionally as I wanted. I wished for a lot more than was provided. I think the right audience will really enjoy it.

  2. says

    I like how there was no focus on romance whatsoever. The book kinda screamed ‘insta-love’ to me (or at least a love-triangle) I thought it was refreshing how Serafina looked at her betrothed. I had the same trouble with the details. It was great how she tried to make an unique world-building, but it was too much and it was hard to see it for me.

    • says

      I have a theory about the romance…that I can’t mention because Spoilers. You are right on with the world building…too much and hard to visualize.

  3. says

    Sounds rather fun if in a more middle grade kinda way. Glad that you still managed to enjoy it, Kristen!
    Great review!

  4. says

    I agree! It felt more juvenile than most YA–but it was still refreshing and fun all the same. I felt like the world building was a little too ambitious though, but nothing a sequel can’t do 🙂

    Lovely review, girl! <33

  5. says

    Ohh, you enjoyed this book a little bit more than others, I see 🙂 lol 😀 Great review Kristen. <3 I'm sorry you didn't love it, but glad you still liked it. I, however, have decided not to read it :p I just don't think it would be for me. Sigh. And.. I do want a good romance in my books :p You mention a little romance. Kind of. But not enough for me, lol 😀 Anyway. Thank you for sharing. <3

    • says

      Yeah, the reviews I’ve seen are pretty mixed. I’ve seen some people really loving it. I’m not sure you would enjoy it because there is no romance to speak of. really read more MG to me.

    • says

      Sometimes the light fun stuff is exactly what I need. I do wish this one had gone a bit deeper. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts

  6. says

    It is a shame, that this was not what expect it to be. It is good that you changed you mindset in order to enjoy the book. I was so close to buying to buying this one the other day. I put it down though because I scanned it with my Goodreads app and the reviews were pretty okay but not good!

    As much as I am glad you enjoyed this one, I am gonna swerve this one!

    Thanks for sharing & great review! 🙂
    Alex @ The Shelf Diaries

    • says

      Yeah, the cover, title and summary had me thinking it would be a much different type of book than I expected. The puns were fun but I would have preferred a more serious tone.

  7. says

    I haven’t been able to make myself read this yet. First, April didn’t love it. Then I saw a lot of other mixed reviews. And now you’re telling me it’s not the dark aquatic tale I was expecting either, so I’m pretty sure I don’t want to spend my precious time reading it right now. I do hope to get to it one day, and I’ll definitely go into it with lowered expectations. Unfortunately. 🙁

    • says

      I know…it wasn’t nearly as immersing as Monstrous Beauty. There were a lot of descriptions but it never felt underwater. And I wanted it to be dark ;-( I’ll be curious of your thoughts when/if you do read it.

  8. says

    I ended up DNFing this one, I’m afraid. I couldn’t get into the story or writing style or weirdo names! I sent it to my coblogger, who felt fairly middling about it as well. It’s too bad, I’m really curious why it’s so hard to find compelling mermaid books. Other than Monstrous Beauty, that is. 😉

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • says

      I hear you Wendy. I have no idea why mermaid book seem to be so difficult. I disliked that Deep Blue felt like it took place above water but just had water elements to pull it below the surface. Never felt underwater to me. I wanted to love this book so much. I love the cover so much. Oh well, maybe at some point someone other than Fama will succeed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *