Into the Drowning Deep is Mira Grant’s follow up to her 2015 novella, Rolling in the Deep (we could have had it aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall). It’s fine, I guess. It’s a good follow up, and unlike Rolling in the Deep (we could have had it aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall) this one is set in the (near) future so Grant gets to play with global warming and other science fictiony things, like super advanced medical tech. The premise is exactly the same, because humans are exactly stupid enough to send out a second party in search of mermaids after the first one disappears. Like I said, it’s fine, but it took me a long time to power through it and I think it was probably longer then it needed to be.
So, plot. Imagine Entertainment, a knock-off Scy-Fy-like channel (which also exists in this universe), is still trying to recover from PR disaster that was the loss of the Atargatis, which is detailed in Rolling in the Deep (we could have had it aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall). In order to recover some of their lost reputation they decide to commission another scientific journey to the Marina Trench to prove they were right that mermaids exist. Going on this voyage is Tory, whose older sister was part of the original Atargatis mission, Dr. Jillian Toth and her estranged husband, a pair of big game hunters, a trio of sisters (two of whom are deaf-this is a plot point so it’s important), and a number of other people of various levels of skepticism. This time Imagine feels like they’re more prepared, see the inclusion of big game hunters, but even the most advanced technologies can’t stand up to the ur-predators of the sea.
I wanted to like this a lot. It’s got so much going for it. There are disabled characters being heroes, and all kinds of disability represented. Characters of all kinds of sexuality doing their thing. Women all over the place, and (my favorite) women doing SCIENCE. Predators doing predatory things while humans prove they are the single most stupid creatures on the planet because curiosity is a killer. It’s intense, and I think if this were a movie it would be amazing.
However, it’s not a movie and I think my biggest issue is that it reads too much like a movie script, but a movie script that has long paragraphs telling the reader what a character’s motivation is. There’s one place in particular where these paragraphs really bothered me. One of the minor characters is about to meet their end, and in order to give the scene more pathos Grant spends a good long while telling us why they’re doing what they’re doing and what the motivations for why they do what they do are. She used a similar writing technique in Down Among the Sticks and Bones (under Seanan McGuire). It feels like she is hitting the reader with a two-by-four so that they understand the motivations of her characters, and that’s lazy writing. These two-by-four paragraphs happen quite frequently and pulled me out of the plot enough so that the book became unenjoyable.
There is a lot that is good in the novel, but it’s just not enough to counter the stuff I didn’t like. That being said, it is a cool concept and I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading it. Like I said, disabled characters being heroes, lots of forms of disability, women in science. I just couldn’t get past the writing. This is annoying, because Grant has been one of my favorites for many years, and yet here we are.
(Yes, that song gets stuck in my head whenever I think about the novella that preceded this. So I’m passing it on.)