Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: The Vicious Deep

Zoraida Cordova
Paranormal Young Adult
384 pages
Sourcebooks Fire
Available Now
Received from publisher/
Teen Book Scene for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.

He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.

His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.

Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.

Despite a title that has our minds conjuring up images of demonic sea creatures who live to drag unsuspecting humans underwater and subject them to any number of cruelties the blue depths are capable of inflicting, the story itself is lighter in tone thanks to a funny and often completely oblivious male protagonist. It’s clear though that while we’re laughing and rolling our eyes at Tristan an unseen darkness moves ever closer, hovering on the periphery and waiting for the ideal moment to strike, erasing the levity and replacing it with a certain amount of gravity as the stakes of Tristan’s quest continue to rise higher and higher. Ms. Cordova blends her humorous moments and her somber ones beautifully, our hearts turning into an emotional kaleidoscopes awash with a myriad of vibrant colors representing our various highs and lows as we witness Tristan’s life get turned completely on its head.

Tristan is a fun protagonist, utterly clueless at times as to how his actions and his habit of not thinking prior to speaking affect those around him (namely his best friend Layla), but luckily as the story progresses it slowly begins to dawn on him just how much of an idiot he’s really capable of being. We can’t help but snort at some of the random things that pop into his head—like what happens to his junk when he has a tail—and it’s his voice that truly keeps us entertained throughout. His newly-realized love for Layla adds a fine layer of tension to this tale, a cloud of awkwardness that’s never been there for the two of them previously suddenly looming over them heavy with things left unsaid, and we continually bite our lips in nervous anticipation as to whether they’ll be able to move past a long-standing friendship and into something more.

While Tristan is an enjoyably flawed hero and his relationship with Layla ripe with romantic potential, the story itself has a tendency to jump around and shift focus quickly, some of the transitions leaving us flipping back a page or two to see if we’ve missed something. Reading can at times leave us feeling like the little silver ball in a pinball machine, pinging back and forth between the discovery that merfolk exist, the friendship/relationship with Layla, the competition for the Sea King’s trident, and a number of other smaller plot elements that continuously vie for our attention throughout. By the end things so seem to smooth out a bit, Tristan’s journey toward earning what is his by birth acting as a compass pointing us in a definitive direction moving forward. Despite the bumpy ride in this first installment, the characters keep us thoroughly amused, kindly paving over some of the potholes that would have been far more noticeable without their charm easing the way.

Rating: 3.5/5


  1. Tristan's humor sounds like it might be enough to carry through the bumpiness of the plot. I hadn't really heard much about this book before, but sounds like it could be a decent one. :)

  2. Thinking about what would happen to his junk with a tail sounds exactly like something a teenage boy would think about. And why would it be any different than without a tail? After all, my male dog has all the male parts (well, except the ones that were cruelly "stolen" from him, rendering him a eunich).

  3. Great review, Jenny! I'm reading this at the moment but I have decided to take a pause for a bit. Maybe I expected a bit more of a 'vicious' story because of the title, but it isn't as spectacular for me as I had hoped. Hopefully things will pick up in the second half! :)

  4. Glad to see what you thought on this one. I hadn't heard of it until someone else reviewed it, but your review helps me to temper my enthusiasm a bit. Great points!

  5. I'm truly curious about this one.. Specially after my love for Of Poseidon I'm totally up for another merman book! This one sounds great but.. not as thrilling as I hoped. Still, I'll probably give it a try anyway! I totally wanna meet Tristan though!

  6. LOL! I knew this book would be cool, but I wasn't expecting totally hilarious! x)It sounds like Tristan his a randomly funny mind, but I think that's probably very realistic for a male protagonist -- which I love! After adoring Of Poseidon completely, I'm really excited to be able to read another mermaid book, even though it didn't quite blow you away! And I feel like I'm being served a cherry on top because there's a best friend romance too!! :D

    Beautiful honest review, Jenny! <3

  7. I love a good flawed hero--there's so much you can do with a clueless boy MC! While I'm not such a fan of a jumpy plot, the relationship between Tristan and Layla sounds worth reading about.

  8. From the blurb this does sound like a really serious book, but I'm glad Tristan livens things up with his humour, this sounds like a fun read! Another book I will check out! :)

  9. This one is new to me. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. I wouldn't have picked this one out for myself, but now I am curious about it.

  10. Amanda - I really enjoyed Tristan! He could just be such a boy sometimes and he made me laugh:)

    Alison - Right? That would not be what I would be thinking about if I suddenly found myself with a tail, but to each his own:)

    Sam - I think the title and the tagline are a bit misleading as well - I expected a darker story. There's a slight edge to it, but it's much lighter than I anticipated.

    Scarlett - It was entertaining, and that's usually enough for me:)

    Danny - I didn't love Tristan quite as much as Galen, but he was funny. His voice was really easy to read, but definitely not quite as sinister as I'd thought it would be.

    Mimi - Tristan definitely has a randomly funny mind:) I did really enjoy the best friend romance aspect, that was a highlight for me:)

    Mary - Tristan and Layla were highlights. I'm hoping some of the jumpiness is lessened in the next book.

    Jasprit - Right? I was expecting dark and creepy, but I did enjoy Tristan's humor and general ridiculousness at times:)

    Jennifer - Glad I could pique your curiosity:)

  11. I never took this one to be a light-hearted book. Glad it was a good surprise. Tristan sounds like a funny character. Not sure if the book's for me though. I think I'll wait for book 2 to see if I'll pick it up.

  12. aaaaaah! I love books with a great sense of humor! Im reading Of Poseidon now and it has totally made my week ^.^ It puts me in such great mood wooohoo! I guess that The VIcious Deep will defiintely work for me =D

    thnx for sharing this great review my dear ^.^


    Dazzling Reads

  13. I just finished the first chapter so I'm looking forward to Tristan becoming really clueless so I can laugh at him. I'm really happy that he sounds like a guy :)

  14. Ah ha! Books that make me snort are always so much fun to read. :) This sounds like an interesting book, I actually don't think I've heard of it before. :) Thanks for sharing!

  15. I love books that make me laugh a little and this one does sounds like a funny one :) !! I look forward to read it .. Thanks for the great review Jenny :) !

  16. Rummanah - I didn't think it would be either, but it was. There's an edge to it, but nothing compared to what I'd imagined based on the title.

    Natalia - Me too! Tristan had me laughing and rolling my eyes at him:)

    Z - I really like how things are with Layla once he figures out how much he cares about her. And I like her reaction to him - it was realistic:)

    Christy - Glad I could put it on your radar!

    Elodie - Me too:) I love the dark stories, but I really love to laugh as well.

  17. oh, interesting review! I'm glad it isn't as dark as I thought it'd be, even though I like dark books, I do like light and funny, too.

  18. Hmm, yeah, I was expecting The Vicious Deep to be dark. I'll admit that I'm a bit disappointed to hear otherwise! It still sounds like a fun read, though. Great review! :)

  19. Pinballd and Potholes...interesting analogies. I have been curious about this one because
    i am still looking for that "wow" mermaid book, sounds like this is good but not quite what I am looking for! Still, I will check it out.

  20. Ashelynn - I like dark books too, but I need light and funny now and again. I was surprised how light this one was (at least this first installment)

    Lauren - Me too. It's got the potential for darkness - I can see darkness coming into play later, but this first book was pretty light and quick.

    Heidi - I know. Sometimes my reviews are full of random analogies, I can't help it:)

  21. I always thought this would have a darker story just from the title and cover. But Tristan sounds like someone I would enjoy reading about and I would lots of laughs knowing what he's thinking.

  22. I did not think it would be that light, cos the cover, well I am always happy to be surprised

  23. A male protagonist!!!! Woohoo!!

    Well, at least Tristan is one of the few males that slowly begins to acknowledge his idiocy. Most turn a blind eye to it.

    And I can't say that I'm surprised that the story tends to FLOUNDER! Get it. Because flounders are fish.

    Blahahahaha! I'm a dork.

  24. Mermaids...er... mermen! You know I wanna read this one. Even though he doesn't quite seem to have brainage... I still need to read it. It still sounds like you got a kick out of his lack of focus. Plus, I mean how many mermen books are out there??

  25. Tristans humor and voice sound great! But I really haven't noticed this book much at all. Its not one I would pick up on my own but maybe I need to glance through a few more reviews. Not that I need anymore to read.... You have me intrigued anyway.

  26. I loved this book! Tristan is awesome! Plus a guy mermaid which you don't see to often. Lovely review Jenny!

  27. I love a character with a really enjoyable voice...not sure that would be enough to win me over though...

  28. Tristan sounds like a great character and that may be enough for me overlook some shifting pov's.

  29. Great review! Tristan seems like an amusing protagonist! The jumpy story sounds a bit frustrating though.

  30. I've read a lot about this book lately thanks to the tour, but somehow I've managed to not realize it's: "...lighter in tone thanks to a funny and often completely oblivious male protagonist." Sounds fun. And I'm drawn to the cover.

    For some reason, I just keep coming back to the mermaid/merpeople books. It isn't that I'm seeking them out, it just seems like they are seeking me out. I'm enjoying them. Before recently, I'd never read any mermaid books and now it seems like I've read a ton.

  31. A mermaid with razor-sharp teeth does sound frightening. Still, the book seems interesting. Not sure it's for me, but great review!

  32. I am just going to say it: I love when the character Tristan shows up in Water Books! It just seem strangely appropriate :) :) :)

    I love that the mer-people are becoming more prevalent in the world of romance, ya, and general fiction!

  33. Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.

    That tagline? Badass-sounding! ;)

    Anyways, I don't seem to read that many books where the main protagonist is a male, so I am really curious about this, especially because Tristan being so funny.

  34. I know it's HORRIBLY awful and completely shallow of me... But I REALLY wanted to read this with the other cover... Now- not so much. I know!!!! I told you I was horrible.

    It sounds like I may miss out on some good mermaid awesome though...

  35. I can't wait for this one! I love dumb life guards! Sorry all you life guards, but I spent summers at pools and at the beach oogling them and I love a book that makes him seem dumb! It's kind of payback for looking so good in those orange trunks and zinc oxide on their noses.