Khanh the Killjoy

The Vicious Deep

The Vicious Deep - Zoraida Córdova I love mermaids, I really do. Fishy folks just capture my attention, but so far I have been so let down by their depiction in fiction and film. From The Little Mermaid to the Vicious Deep series to the Lullaby seems that the main similarities between fictional merfolk and sirens and other water-dwelling creatures in fiction is not their fins nor their affinity to water, but rather, their absolute stupidity and inability to think like a rational person (not person person, but you get the point).The good news is that the mermaids in this book are for the most part, intelligent and tolerable in their lack of annoying TSTL tendencies. The bad part is that the main character's love interest is not, but I will overlook her for the time being, because I am so surprised and pleasantly shocked at the existence of intelligent, functional merfolk in literature. The entire book was enjoyable, hilarious, and fun to read. I found myself laughing out loud more than once. The main characters and supporting cast, with the exception of two, were immensely likeable.The plot focuses on Tristan, he suffers a near-death experience while attempting a rescue during a tsunami-type of situation while working as a lifeguard. In the aftermath, he gets strange dreams of a white-haired, sharp-teethed mermaid, and eventually discovers his true nature as the offspring of a mermaid and a human. Meanwhile, if that's not complicated enough, he is trying to resolve his feelings towards his childhood best friend, Layla...all this while trying to solve a riddle, possibly try to become lord of the sea, and survive death threats by the mysterious mermaid of whom he dreams.I found Tristan to be a likeable character and a good narrator, although his voice does suffer from what I call The Ethan Wates Syndrome. Meaning, he's not entirely convincing as a male character. Tell me, what kind of a male makes these observations?"[The girls] hold paddling boards with Hawaiian flower patterns on them, even though their hair is ironed perfectly straight and their fake eyelashes haven’t been touched by the water."...and..."She comes up close, and I can see she doesn’t have any makeup on, except for the pink on her cheeks. No one’s cheeks can be that pink."Yeah, things like that are observed by NO REAL STRAIGHT BOY EVER.But those are minor complaints. Besides the odd observation of nail polish or makeup, and the sighing and swooning over his best friend Layla, Tristan is absolutely hilarious as a narrator. More than once, I found myself laughing at the observations he makes and he keeps up a side-splitting commentary, and for the most part, his thoughts are pretty in-line with what a teenaged boy probably thinks upon discovering that he's a merman."What if he does it wrong and I get stuck like this forever? Can I still have sex with girls or only other mermaids? Where the hell does my dick go?"His ragtag groups of friends are your typical group of teenaged male, but they've grown up around each other their entire lives, and are genuinely nice guys at heart; there's nothing to hate about them. His parents are loving, adorable, and absolutely hilarious. You can really see where Tristan become well-adjusted and where he inherited his sense of humor."'Yeah, yeah. You kids spoiled the wonderful evening your mom and I were having.''Ugh, disgusting.' I put my fingers in my ears, but I can still hear him laughing. I grab a glass and some OJ.'Oh, come on, son, your merbaby zygote didn’t make itself.'”Another character whom I like is Kurt (short for something absolutely unpronounceable), a merman who is acting as Tristan's guide to his new self. He has an unwittingly deadpan sense of humor, and is funny most of the time without meaning to be.“'We do look different. We are glamoured,' Kurt says indignantly. 'It’s a light spell to tone down our natural colors. We are no longer achingly beautiful. Now we’re just exceptionally beautiful.'"He knows little about the human world, and as much of a guide he is to Tristan, Tristan is his guide to the human world.Apart from the main cast, even those we originally judge as evil has some redeeming quality, so there aren't many characters I found objectionable.Now, let's get on with the bad. Layla, the most annoying and insipid characters in the book. I cannot imagine the funny, intelligent Tristan would be so stupid to overlook this fact. Tristan has grown up with her his entire childhood, and he is his best friend, even while he dates around (and he is a serial dater). Too late, he realizes that Layla has grown up into a stunning young woman, and while he continues to fall in love with her, from what we see of Layla in the book (and she is a major character), I see nothing about her that is remotely attractive besides her exterior. She is prickly, bitchy (I hate to use this word, but it's accurate), standoffish, and TSTL. Her actions can and did put Tristan and herself in a huge mess, from which they barely escape. Layla is violent (she repeatedly punches Tristan). I don't like violence towards women, and I believe the same standards should exist for guys. It shouldn't be ok for a girl to hit a guy any more than it is for a guy to hit a girl. Tristan tries so hard with her, and most of the time, she just pushes him away."I keep my eyes on the back of Layla’s head. She doesn’t even turn around to look at me. There is nothing like the silent treatment from the only girl you want to talk to."I could itemize the stupid things Layla does in this book to make me dislike her, but there's not enough room in the review. Nevertheless, this is an excellent and funny book, bogged down by very few annoying characters. The cliffhanger is not a terrible one, and I will be continuing with the series.