Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Publication date: 14 November 2017
Page count: 496 pages
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
This is a spoiler-free review.
My interest in Into the Drowning Deep can be summarised in two words: killer mermaids. Add on the fact that Mira Grant is a pen name for Seanan McGuire, the author of the Wayward Children series, and I knew this was a book I had to read. Ultimately, I was left a little disappointed — while Into the Drowning Deep had fantastic bits, the overall book just didn’t quite work for me.
Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a mockumentary bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend.
It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a tragedy; others have called it a hoax.
Now a new crew has been assembled to investigate. And they’ll discover that it sown there is definitely no joke…
To address the most important thing first: I absolutely loved the way Grant handled the mermaids in this book. Not only were they actually scary, she clearly did a ton of research in biology and marine biology, not to mention a whole host of other sciences, to portray a logical and realistic depiction of what mermaids would actually be like, from their physiology and appearance to their methods of hunting and communication. She even came up with sirenology, the study of mermaids, to include in the book and it felt like it could be real. As the mermaids the part of the book I was most excited about, I was completely and totally thrilled with their portrayal — my only issue is that I wanted to see more of them!
Speaking of the research Grant must have done in order to write this book, Into the Drowning Deep is almost too scientific. I had heard that the scientific descriptions and passages bogged the story down, but I didn’t think it would bother me too much. It did. It totally dragged the pacing down, and in some cases ground the book to a screeching halt and it was an absolute struggle to get through in some parts. I genuinely believe that about 100 pages of science could have been cut from this book and it would have significantly improved the pacing and story. It also would have allowed for more killer mermaids!
In terms of characters, I was really surprised by who I liked and did not like. The standout characters were incredible — Dr Toth — the sirenologist, Mr Blackwell — the representative of Imagine Entertainment, and Olivia — the face of the documentary — were absolutely amazing characters. I especially loved Dr Toth and Mr Blackwell’s interactions and their dialogue was so good and fun. The major surprise, however, was Tory — the sister of one of the first expedition’s victims and the woman set up to be our main character. She had all the ingredients to be an incredible character, however she just fell completely flat. Not only was she incredibly boring to read about, I didn’t feel like she had any personality. The only thing she had going for her was her romance, which I didn’t love because it came out of absolutely nowhere and felt so artificial.
The cast of Into the Drowning Deep is absolutely massive and a huge number of them are POV characters — in fact, there must be around 12-15 different POVs throughout the book. Because of this, the book felt incredibly disjointed and I was unable to connect with a number of the people I should have adored. We also get to see the POV of some of the mermaids and other sea creatures, which quite frankly was bizarre. There was so much work that needed to be done around the characters, which was so unfortunate.
Overall, Into the Drowning Deep is an okay read, but not one I’d recommend unless you really enjoy hard science in your books. It delivered on what it promised, however I think that there are so ways in which this book could have been so much better. Although I like McGuire’s fantasy stories, I’m not in a rush to pick up any more of her Mira Grant books.
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