Back in May, I recognized Jennifer Donnelly’s name on her new book Deep Blue. I had really enjoyed A Northern Light in college (and I think it’s time for a re-read now), and I’ve been meaning to read her Rose Trilogy. The Chancellor laughed at me for reading a YA mermaid book, but I actually kind of enjoyed it.
Serafina is the heir to the kingdom of Miromara. Preparing for her coming-of-age ceremony, she is fluttered by her singing/magical performance and her upcoming betrothal to Mahdi, prince of a neighboring realm. But during the ceremony, a sudden attack tears apart the kingdom and forces Sera and her best “merlfriend” (yes, I am embarrassed that I am typing this, but let’s move on) Neela must find a way to protect their merfolk and find other young merls like them who are destined to change the fate of the world.
Let’s start with the groan-worthy and end on the positive, shall we? It’s definitely geared more towards the tween crowd, and there are several exposition-heavy, punnish moments that made me feel…old. Out of place. And I hate feeling too old for a book.
But the idea of merpeople and kingdoms under the sea has not really been plumbed for teens, so the series itself will be a bit of a novelty. I was intrigued by the world Ms. Donnelly set out to create, so I hope she can flesh it out in the quartet that she is planning to write.
And then there’s the part that elevates this series entirely. Despite Sera’s supposed engagement, this is not a love story. No, dear reader, it’s about FEMALE FRIENDSHIP. Woman-to-woman friendship unmediated by a man. Without petty jealousy. And what disagreement exists is about differing kingdoms and not about boys. Or whose mer-gina is better. This is a novel that would pass the Bechdel test.
Will I be reading the next book? Yes. But let’s just hope that Ms. Donnelly keeps up the girl power and does not sink into a predictable love-and-rescue tale.