Monday, February 18, 2013

Not Always Better Down Where It's Wetter: The Vicious Deep, by Zoraida Córdova

One thing you have to say for mermaids - they've had a lot of press. If I simply say the phrase, "Under the Sea," even if you never suffered through primary-colored Disney fare, you still have a horrible little calypso earworm going on in your head, right? (Yeah, sorry about that.)Zoraida Córdova - pronounced zor-EYE-duh - is an Ecuadorian author who came to the English language by way of watching The Little Mermaid and Michael Jackson's Moonwalker over and over. She grew up in Jamaica/Hollis, Queens, and she is doing for merfolk what Holly Black did for fairies back in the day. Forget Ariel and that crab Sebastian. There's a lot of vicious out there, rolling in the deep...

(Yeah, now you've got TWO songs in your head. I did that for YOU.)

We don't have a lot of male voices in the mermaid thing. Despite Poseidon and his trident, the most enduring idea of sea-people seem to be the sirens... thus, most of YA lit deals with girls and their fin-affectations. However, this book has testosterone. And a really nice cover. Sharp design - no stock photo beach bodies to ogle (and some of you may be grieving over that, so sorry), no attempt at the mer-tail, nothing but the water and the trident - and its sharpness and the glint of light from the tip remind us that it's not just something that Poseidon holds - it's a weapon, and a freakin' effective one, at that. The rough edging of the title font against the backdrop of the roiling waters let the reader know that Something Is At Stake. On that note, on with the story.

Tristan Hart is just this guy whom everyone likes, he's just this guy who is a lifeguard, he's just this guy who is... eye candy, essentially, at Coney Island. And, he knows it. He's not stupid, no. But, he's just not deep, all right? Woman of the moment. Urge of the moment. "Bros before babes," and all that pseudo-deep pseudo-manliness that goes with it. Except for his place on the swim team, and his friendship with his best-friend-since he was tiny, to Tristan, most things aren't worth hanging onto even for a day. His friends call him "manslut" without exaggeration. His girlfriend of the moment professed undying love at a bonfire - and about a half hour later, he was swapping spit with some other girl.

That's Tristan.

But, when it comes down to it, he delivers. A killer wave comes up on Coney Island, and he grabs his lifeguarding gear and unlike everyone trying to get away, he swims into it, desperate to save a drowning victim. And, when he gets thrown up on shore, three days later with a bit missing from his memories... he's not just This Guy anymore. He's THAT Guy. The one who survived, when everyone else died. The one whose tail just... manifested... in... the... bathtub...

Yeah. And about those dreams he's been having? About a silver-skinned girl with shark teeth? Who's kind of hot, but kind of scary looking? Something about her might kind of be a problem...

Recommended for Fans Of...:FATHOM FIVE, and the rest of The Unwritten Books, by James Bow, TIDES, by Betty Cornwell and I think that does it for mermen. Other seafolk tales include Tricia Rayburn's SIREN series, SEA CHANGE, by Aimee Friedman, ASCENSION, by Kara Dalkey and Tera Lynn Childs' FINS series, MONSTROUS BEAUTY, by Elizabeth Fama, and LIES BENEATH, Anne Greenwood Brown.

Look for THE SAVAGE BLUE, May 2013, but to get you in the mood to stay in the pool, pick up a copy of THE VICIOUS DEEP.

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