by Mira Grant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved that I started this book feeling unsettled, and ended up still very unsettled, but for different reasons. The author does a great job of keeping the tension through the book and really challenging your perspective of the subject. The cast of characters is somewhat large, but the ones really really get to know are fleshed out well and our understanding of them really makes a difference as the story progresses. I was happy that, for the most part, nothing really felt predictable, especially not the ending.
I admit too that I read the prequel novella before starting this one and while it isn’t really spoiler-filled, I do feel it influenced how I went into starting this one. I highly recommend reading this first, but it won’t ruin the experience either.
Full Review with Spoilers
I absolutely loved this book! I will completely admit though, I read the prequel novella before I ever started this one. I know I would have still loved the book, but I do think it changed my perspective just a tiny bit. One of the major draws into this book in the beginning is not knowing whether or not the story of the original ship’s occupants being wiped out by mermaids is true or not. Obviously, the novella confirms this story, so that wasn’t a mystery going in for me. That aside though, if I hadn’t known, this would have really kept me on edge for a bit. I do appreciate that the book really doesn’t keep this fact a secret for long though. That’s really not what the book is about. I appreciate the author not dragging this fact out in order to maintain this mythological mystery.
There is a large cast of characters, made larger by the simple fact that the entire story is about a huge ship full of various scientists trying to discover what happened the the original ship from 7 years ago, the Atargatis. While there are many many people on the ship the main assortment of characters we really get to know is not overwhelming. The book primarily focuses on Victoria Stewart, who lost her sister on the first ship. It has become and obsession for her and the same company that funded the other voyage is doing the same again and offered her a place aboard. The rest of the cast we really get to know are unique and fleshed out. Each has a great personality that adds something to the story. I’m particularly find of the twins, who are both def and their older sister. All three of them really drive the story forward in places. I found the situations they were a part of the most interesting and heartbreaking. Of course I gravitated towards the relationship between Vitoria and Olivia. It was cute and desperate and given the situation made complete sense.
The story really ramps up when people start dying and the truth becomes very clear. The mermaids, later determined to actually be sirens, are real. Now, one of the underlining themes of the book is whether or not the sirens are actually monsters. Yes they are taking essentially everyone they can get their hands on, but as is pointed out several times through the book, that’s what animals do. The idea of who’s in the wrong is constantly debated. Are the sirens villains? Or are the people invading their space and expecting everything to be the way they want it the real villains? This added fantastic emotional conflict while reading.
The ending was I admit a bit surprising. It isn’t at all what I had expected and was a little bit abrupt, but I felt like it made sense so I actually liked it a lot.
This was a great thriller that doesn’t pull any punches and really makes you question who you you believe in. I highly recommend and also would encourage a read of this one before diving into the accompanying novella.