Set roughly a decade after the ill-fated research sojourn of the Atargartis (depicted in the novella Rolling in the Deep), the Imagine Entertainment network has once again set its eyes on the mermaid prize, assembling a new crew to set sail aboard the Melusine. Acting as right-hand man to the CEO of Imagine, Theo Blackwell has put together a crew of the world's foremost marine scientists, including Victoria (Tory) Stewart, sister to Anne, an Imagine corespondent whose life was claimed aboard the Atargartis; his ex-wife, Dr. Jillian Toth, the world's foremost expert on mermaid mythology and one of the few believers in the legitimacy of the Atargartis footage; and new Imagine correspondent, Olivia Sanderson, an autistic Olivia Munn-like figure who explores her world through the safety net of cosplay, a videocamera and constant reportage.
Into the Drowning Deep is both a sequel to, and a minor reboot of, Rolling in the Deep, and oftentimes feels like a deeper, expanded edition of that former novella. This is by no means a bad thing, though. While I enjoyed Rolling in the Deep a great deal, I also felt it was too short; it sped by too quickly and the characters didn't get a lot of attention before they were torn apart. In a lot of ways, this novel corrects some of the issues I had with Rolling in the Deep and is a better work for it.
At over four hundred pages, this is a pretty thick novel. Mira Grant spends plenty of time developing her large cast, providing us with plenty of richly diverse heroines to root for, and a few unsavories to cheer toward their demise. Equally rich, perhaps even richer, is the science itself. Grant has a terrific knack for taking the mermaids of mythological legend and giving them an incredibly strong scientific foundation and a real-world basis to exist. These creatures come across as a realistic and terrifying threat, and once the action heats up in the close quarters of the Melusine, there's a thick Jaws meets Aliens vibe that I flat-out loved. Few authors combine scientific realism with horrifying madness as well as Mira Grant. People looking for a natural successor to Michael Crichton would do well to read Grant's work immediately, and I suspect she'll be doing for mermaids what Crichton did for dinosaurs.
My only complaint is that the ending gets a bit rushed and some of the threats presented do not get the payoff they deserve. However, I'm weighing this against the implicit promise of the book's epilogue, and this novel's billing as the first book in what looks to be a new series (with Rolling in the Deep listed as a 0.5), that we'll be getting at least one more dose of mermaid mayhem somewhere down the pike. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that such a release comes soon because, frankly, I need that sequel right freaking now.
[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]
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