I found this to be an interesting book to review as when I started reading it I wasn't at all convinced that I was going to like it one little bit, it just read a bit odd and the whole mermaid thing didn't sit right at all BUT I can say it did grow on me as I read it.
Parts of it did bug me, things like mermaids drinking tea from teacups underwater (yes, the tea may be thick as described but still.......), the fact that there was a shopping mall in the mermaid's underwater city, silly little things that aren't important to the story in the slightest but that irritated me. Little things that once forgotten and not dwelled on that don't affect the book at all. I can totally understand where the author was going will the whole book but I think I may have fallen victim of my age with this one as while reading it started of like Gossip Girl with mermaid princesses instead of rich girls. Donnelly has made it seem like Serafina is a totally normal teenage girl who like typical teenage things but just so happens to a mermaid and live underwater. I haven't been a teenager for a VERY long time and while to story was still very enjoyable for me to read I have the feeling that younger readers will enjoy this even more as it definately aimed at the younger market.
The story revolves around mermaid princess, or Principessa, Serafina who is haunted by strange dreams of things that don't exist. Heir to her mother's throne, she is on the brink of performing a ritual (the Dokimi) which will end with her being formerly betrothed to the man she loves, the Crown Prince of Matali, Mahdi.....who she isn't totally convinced feels the same way about her anymore, despite previous declarations of love. The dark premonitions from her dreams begin to come true when during the Dokimi ritual the city of Cerulea is attacked and Serafina's mother is mortally injured by an poisoned arrow. Serafina is forced to flee and must find a way to find the person responsible for the destruction of her home while finding out the truth behind her dreams.
Character wise Serafina isn't as strong a character as I had hoped. She's a pretty ordinary teenage girl (apart from being a mermaid of course) with all the fears that every girl has...... does the boy love me, why can't I have more of my mother 's attention, why do the other girls hate me..... she's a very scared young lady, afraid of almost everything in one way or another and very unlike her strong and determined mother, the regina Isabella. I wanted Serafina to have more of a backbone that she had but during the course of the book she does start to grow in strength so I do believe she will get there in time, I just wish she wasn't quite so simpering at the beginning. Her best friend and confidente Neela is a much stronger girl and an extremely likeable character, the same can be said for all the mermaid girls introduced in this book.
Overall the story within the pages is an interesting one (while a little generic, girl with the gifts fighting a monster who wants to destroy - step forward Abbadon, or not seeing as you are locked in a 'inpregnable' cage at the moment!) although is does start off feeling a bit awkward and a bit too strange, give it time as it does improve greatly and I think it has huge potential for growth over the course of the series. It's very different to other YA paranormal type books and I did find the idea of mermaids a refreshing one as I have never read a mermaid based book before. Before starting it I was curious about how it would or could be handled and I must say that is was a pleasant surprise as I was expecting something completely different. A fresh tale, unlike any other for me. I will say though that if you're wanting a 'cliche' romantic book then this isn't it (yet..... maybe later in the series romance may feature more) as it is very romance light, the boys don't feature much in this first book as both Neela and Serafina's brothers are missing and Mahdi, Serafina's prince charming is MIA too.
One of the things that did have me the most curious about this book was after watching the author interview video (the one above) and hearing about how Disney was involved in getting this story told, very interesting and you can almost feel the Disney influence through the book, I'm probably not explaining this properly but you know that Disney Princess feel you have in a Disney movie... well Serafina had that Disney Princess feel to her, I hope you know what I mean. I've never read Jennifer Donnelly before but this has be curious about her other work so we'll have to see what happens, I may well try another but I will be continuing with this series to see where it will take me..... my curiosity is definitely peaked!
Would I recommend it..... YES, I would but I do think that it is better suited to younger readers than me in my opinion, but saying that I did enjoy it and am wanting to know what happens next, which is the aim of the game after all!show more
by Thea Wilson