Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Into the Drowning Deep

I've been hearing good things about Mira Grant's (Seanan McGuire's) Into the Drowning Deep. So I got it from the library and started reading it on Sunday when I went out to camp for the last time this summer.

Into the Drowning Deep starts out with an entertainment company, Imagine, sending a boat, the Atargatis, out to the Mariana Trench to film a mocumentary about finding mermaids. Unfortunately they actually discovered mermaids, who devoured the entire cast and crew, leaving only the ship behind. Their footage was leaked, and the world was left to grapple with whether or not the mermaids were real. Now, seven years later, Imagine is sending a second ship, the Melusine, to definitively prove the existence of mermaids to the world. They've contracted the world's leading oceanographers, and designed the Melusine to be both research vessel and floating fortress so as not to have a repeat of the Atargatis disaster. Unfortunately, unknown to the scientists who are on the vessel, some of the security features of the Melusine aren't quite working....

Among the scientists on board the Melusine are Victoria Stewart, a grad student who specializes in sonar and who wants revenge however she can get it because her sister was on the Atargatis, and Dr. Jillian Toth, the world's expert on mermaids (even though many people think she's a quack, she pointed the Atargatis towards the Mariana Trench seven years ago, and feels guilty because she sent those people to die). Dr. Toth finds her estranged husband, Theo Blackwell, accompanying the vessel as well. Theo is the right hand man of Imagine's CEO, and realistically shouldn't be on the vessel (he had an accident years ago), but he is there all the same as the head of the vessel in everything except security (that's the Captain's job).

I loved how the mermaids (or more realistically "sirens") felt plausible through the whole story (even though they went from the deeps to the surface without any issue - I wasn't sure how she was going to make that sound plausible, but she did!) You could tell that McGuire really did her research on them (and she acknowledges "all the aquarium employees who were willing to talk about mermaids with me" at the end of the book). 

I also really liked the characters of the book. The deaf twins who resented the world that wasn't willing to even attempt to communicate with them (by learning simple signs). Their sister who grew up signing and started to find a way to communicate with the mermaids. Imagine's employee who has some form of autism. And how okay a lot of the characters were with theirs (and others') sexuality. It was a diverse cast who never felt forced - they were just people being people.

The one thing I wasn't a fan of was the ending. It felt super abrupt. All of this stuff was happening and then it wasn't anymore.  And when the large female was surfacing and Tory saw it but wasn't really saying anything in narrative I was a bit annoyed.  That was the author specifically leaving details out to artificially build suspense.  Not great.

The beginning is also a bit slow.  I didn't find it bad, but it felt like it took a lot to get the story really going.  I realize that some of the backstory (especially about the Atargatis and how it related to certain characters) was necessary.  But I felt like the story doesn't *really* start until about 100 or so pages in.

That being said though, I still did enjoy reading it.  The book falls a bit more into the horror side of speculative writing than I normally read, but that was okay too.

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