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In The Vicious Deep, we meet lifeguard Tristan Hart - popular, handsome, who seems to have the perfect life - shortly before a freakish storm hits the beach he's on, and Tristan dives into the water, thinking he's saving someone. Three days later Tristan wakes up on the beach, with no memory of what happened to him after he entered the water, and his entire life changes. Zoraida Cordova plunges the reader instantly into Tristan's world with a novel where the action never really stops, yet where this would have thrown me off in other books, with this one: it worked. I felt like I was constantly trying to catch my breath, but because that sensation was backed by a hilarious, sensitive at times, typical male at other times narrator and a fabulously twist-y plot, I was never taken aback by the pacing; if anything, it seemed right. Cordova is a talented author, delving into the mind of a male protagonist, which has to be tricky, but I've discovered, I REALLY enjoy: both as a writer and as a reader. It's a nice treat from most novels, which are narrated by females, plus, Tristan, even though he's a stereotypical guy, is also instantly likable, and carries the novel well.
The Vicious Deep takes Tristan Hart on an unbelievable journey, from Coney Island to another island - the ancestral home of the merfolk, to whom he learns he has a connection that is truly mind-blowing for Tristan. I was worried about the reveal - as an author, how do you pull out the, "So, you're a merman card?" but Zoraida Cordova handles that with fabulous poise and style. She's built an amazing home life for Tristan, who has the love and support of both parents, as well as his best friend, Layla. All of these characters were beautifully developed and never felt flat; often, authors don't pay enough attention to their secondary characters, but for Cordova, this clearly was not a problem. I found myself drawn to Layla and wanting immediately to know more about her, and to see more interaction between her and Tristan. I just wanted to wrap my arms around them both - their banter and bond was adorable, with moments of seriousness to break up the light-hardhearted-ness, where you REALLY saw how much they cared for one another.
The plot itself, while not chock-full of twists, did keep me guessing at a few points, and was just genuinely really enjoyable. In some ways, The Vicious Deep definitely wasn't what I was expecting - it was better. The entire Sea Court angle was different and oddly fascinating! And while I'd have liked for there to be more interaction with Tristan and a few of the minor characters, who nonetheless play very important roles, there is a sequel, and I have high hopes that I might get my wish, then, because most of those characters are still around. And the awesome thing is there are people like Kurt and Thalia that, yes, you will have to read the book to meet, but I promise, they are well worth it!
Zoraida Cordova has a way with words, and a way of getting under the reader's skin. I never thought I would enjoy a mermaid book as much as I did, but after I was 50 or so pages in, I quickly realized that The Vicious Deep has a lot to offer: action, romance, humor, and most importantly, heart. I saw some character growth on Tristan's part throughout the novel and I think in the next book/s just judging by what I think is going to happen, there will have to be a LOT more. I don't really have any gripes with this book - it was a good length, there were a lot of elements to it that are guaranteed to make me giggly, and it left off in such a way that I NEED the sequel now. The Vicious Deep is a GREAT read, just not one of those "this will change your life" kind of books, but definitely an energetic, mysterious read. If I could say one thing to convince you to read The Vicious Deep, it is that this is the perfect summer read: fast-paced and fun, yet definitely with more to offer than meets the eye - this book has a LOT to offer, and I am already highly, eagerly, impatiently awaiting the sequel, The Savage Blue!