Review: Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant

Rolling in the Deep
By Mira Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rolling in the Deep is, essentially, a found-footage horror movie committed to print. The Imagine Network, best-known for its chintzy monster movies and sci-fi programming, is taking a hit in the ratings. Faster than you can say Sharknado, they decide to break into the "hyper-reality" game with a documentary that's every bit as fictional as it is factual. Loaded up with a team of scientists, interns, and a mermaid performance troupe, the Atargatis cruises to the Mariana Trench to debunk or confirm the world's most enduring sea tale - are mermaid's real?

The story is broken down into five sections, each prefaced with a transcript from a documentary about the Atargatis and its missing crew, warning viewers about the footage they are about see...err, read. Whatever. Roughly the first three-quarters of the book are devoted to the various passengers, mostly the ship's captain, the documentary film crew, and the scientists. This is a quick, breezy read, paced well enough to hit the approximate run-time of a longer found-footage flick.

The downside to this, though, is that readers are not given much time to really get to know the people aboard the Atargatis or to really get into anybody's head. Thanks to the rules of found footage stories and the various documentarian notes coming up at regular intermissions, we know perfectly well that the fate of these men and women are sealed. Unfortunately, we're not given an opportunity to really get attached to any of these people, despite the slow burn toward the big finish. But that finish itself? Oh boy, does it ever get going; the mayhem really kicks things up a notch.

Besides the violent, frenetic climax, the thing I most appreciated about Rolling in the Deep was Mira Grant's focus on the science. She's an author who can take mythological premises like mermaids, or horror staples like zombies in her Newsflesh series, and give them enough scientific credibility to make it plausible. Here, we get plenty of discussion of how mermaids would be evolutionarily credible in light of things we already know about deep sea life (the use of bioluminescence and symbiosis in attracting prey, for instance). Personally, I love Grant's knack for taking what might otherwise be little more than a riff on B-movie horror tropes and elevating them with scientific rigor, grounding all that face-ripping, throat-tearing goodness in a measured bit of reality. By the time the monsters make their grand entrance, we're all but primed to accept their existence and welcome them into the world with arms spread wide.

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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