June 9th, 2014
The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova
This book is a bit hard to rate. Im a bit torn, because I love the author, but I just didn't connect with the book the way I wanted to.
I definitely think the story shows promise to get more interesting, but for me, lack of strong character development was a concern for me.
I'll start off first by giving you a run down of the book's content. "The Vicious Deep" follows the exploits of Tristan Hart, a young man, whom with time discovers he is a merman, and must embark on an adventure to gain not only the favor of the people, or fey-folk(really anything type of creature really), but also to find pieces of the Triton, a powerful weapon he would've inherited, had he been born to the sea, but must prove he is worthy to hold.
There were more things I didn't connect with than I did. Im not sure if this is the writing style signature to the author, or the way the story is edited, but there are many times where the story drifts and leaves me either bored, or confused. Or perhaps it could be the many characters that were often introduced, with either little warning, and not enough for me to have any type of relationship with.
In my opinion, the book is it's strongest during it's first 50-60 pages. Im not sure why I wasn't in love with the way the story was told, but I did like the story itself. The pacing was often at times slowed down because of the main character. Perhaps Tristan is not a clear enough narrator. At times he focuses on many things that lack importance, and while I get why(he is after all a teenage boy)his narrative wasnt as intelligent as I wouldve liked him to be.
This is not to say he's not likable. In fact he is. But perhaps I only feel this way because he is extremely good looking. While Tristan is likable, I dont find him very relatable. I wanted to relate to him, but his experiences just weren't universal. Im not talking about his adventures as a merman, Im actually referring more to his life style, how he handles situations, heck, if im being honest, i'll just throw this out there. Because he's a white guy. I've related to white characters in the past. While I will say that they've mainly been women, I have on occasion related well to a white guy. But for Tristan to be from Brooklyn, I dont know. I guess I kept expecting for him to be a little more well rounded. But I did like that this story is told from a guy's point of view, because it's extremely rare to find a story about merfolk from the perspective of a man's.
I think that the back story is absolutely awesome. I love the villain, even though for now she works indirectly. She reminds me a bit of a vicious Ursula, and I do look forward to seeing and hearing more from her, and I liked how she created much of the conflict our hero needed to discover things about his identity.
The world-building is cool. I don't know if I picture absolutely everything as well as it's written, but I tried my best not to get lost in description.
This is where I get a little anal. The diversity isn't as strong as I would've thought, or liked it to be. I do give credit where it is due, because Tristan's love interest, Layla, is Latina.
But Im on the fence on how I feel about Layla. I think Im a bit biased, because the only real reason Im trying to like her is because she's the only woman of color in the book. She's half Greek and half Ecuadorian, and seems to be in tune with both sides, but I kinda wonder what she would've been like if she'd just been written Ecuadorian. I definitely don't find anything wrong with having a multi-ethnic person be represented, but I just wonder. Maybe because growing up, my neighborhood was about 55% Ecuadorian, 20% African-American,15% Puerto Rican, and 10% whatever else. Granted it wasn't a big neighborhood, but my exposure to American or South American born Ecuadorians kinda has me thinking this way because of that.
Layla was gorgeous too. She was athletic, and I love the girls who work out. She wasn't intentionally stereotypical, but what I will say, is that her being the only woman of color, made everyone who pretty much drooled over her, make her appear fetish-ized. Maybe if there'd been more non white female characters to balance it out, it would've have come of as guys wanting to bang the "fiery Latina."
I also wasn't sold 100% on their love story. She and Tristan are best friends, which I am sold on. But Tristan was very comfortable sexually, to spread his comfort for whomever would take it. He just expected Layla to know his feelings were genuine, even when he didn't show it. And him forcing a kiss on her in the beginning isn't as harmless as it comes off as. It was unwanted and if a stranger did the same thing, you'd be able to press charges. Maybe as the story grows I'll change my mind about them, but for now, they just don't do it as lovers for me.
I want to also talk about diversity. Outside of Layla, there are two minor characters whom are men of color. One Puerto Rican, the other American of Jamaican descent. They weren't mentioned enough for me to care about them as much as I would've liked to. I kept thinking what part of Brooklyn are they from? Im not a New Yorker, so I know I don't have the right, but I've been back and forth there for college. The Brooklyn I knew had Asians, Latinos, Caribbean, African American,pretty much whatever you can think of.
I wondered why out of all Tristan's friends, only the white ones Ryan and Angelo(whom was Italian)were described in great detail, and/or joined in action sequences, and had more than one or two lines at a time. I had no idea what his friends of color looked like, but Ryan and Angelo were pictured clearly.
The diversity I think just could have been stronger. This isn't to come down on the book, but they head to florida the next book. Being Afro-Cuban American, I hope to see some Cubans, or at least a Haitian XD
The cover is amazing, and one of the reasons I bought the book in the first place. It speaks to the mission of the story, so I have no complaints there. The book's titles is also eye catching. I couldn't think of a more catching title for a story about merfolk. And I loved the character names. I love the name Tristan, and I love the name Layla. There are many other characters with unique names, that are a bit hard to remember the exact spelling, but the character Gwen's name caught my attention, seeing as how Im a Gwen(Though mine is spelled Guin).
Im definitely going to continue the series in hopes it connects with me better than the first book has. I hope the diversity is allowed to grow as well. It's a bit difficult to rate, because Im on the fence with a point, but Ill say it's between a 1.75-2.00
My DreamCast for Main Characters:
Sean O'Donnell as Tristan Hart
Michelle Lewin as Layla Santos
Christina Aguilera as Gwen