{Review} THE VICIOUS DEEP by Zoraida Córdova

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

Hear the rumble of the sky that reaches down to the belly of the sea, hear the clouds that appear out of nowhere.  They churn and curl inside themselves in big gray mouths across the sky.  The sky that up to a few seconds ago was perfect and blue.  

(Page 3, US Hardcover Edition)

Check out Zoraida Córdova's character interview with the villainous Nieve and catch a sneak peek at the upcoming sequel, THE SAVAGE BLUE!

THE VICIOUS DEEP is different enough from other mermaid novels that it stands out.  For one thing, it features a male protagonist.  Male voices are seldom-heard in YA to begin with, but a book from the POV of a guy who doesn't know he's a merman is even rarer.  Plus, the author is female, and while I often find that male POVs written by females tend to have a false ring to them, Zoraida Córdova  is spot-on in her narration.  Sometimes we're meant to love him, while other times, we want to slap him upside the head for being so cocky.  Tristan feels like an everyday guy, albeit one with a deeper destiny, and his journey is one that pulls readers in.  

Tristan is living an ordinary life when a storm hits and creates a tragedy with few survivors.  While Tristan makes it out intact, he has horrible nightmares and begins changing.  One day, he sprouts a tail and realizes that a major secret has been kept from him.  Now, brethren from down under have come to inform Tristan of his destiny.  The mer-king is aging and needs an heir.  While Tristan's bloodlines qualify him for the rule, he must partake in a challenge against other qualified candidates in order to win the crown.  To do so means giving up his life as a human, and not everyone beneath the sea is as friendly and accepting as one might think...

While THE VICIOUS DEEP gets off to a shaky start, it solidifies further in and becomes tighter.  Córdova anticipates the questions a reader might have and answers them, from the motivations to "why" Tristan should care so much (Which I did wonder at for a while) to the wonders of down under.   The underwater world is spectacular, yet there are threads of darkness that make this mer-world more sinister than the ones portrayed in other mer-novels.  She also manages to create a creepy villain that's sure to be featured more heavily in the second book.  By the time the last page has turned, it may seem as though not a lot has been resolved, but all of the development is in place for THE SAVAGE BLUE and the world has been soundly built.  I look forward to seeing Córdova flesh out more of her underwater tale and seeing just where she takes us next.
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This book has been through multiple cover changes before settling on the cover you see above.

First, it featured a mermaid with blood dripping from her lips.  I probably would have been more hesitant to picking that version up (As you saw recently when reviewing KILL ME SOFTLY and analyzing its cover, I don't like blood.)

The second cover used the same image, though the coloring is a little softer, the features not as pronounced.  Even the red from the title isn't as deep as it was in the first version.

Sourcebooks tried one more time, and as they say, the third time's the charm.  Sourcebooks was so confident in the new cover that they even decided to release THE VICIOUS DEEP in hardcover instead of the previously-decided-on paperback.  The new book features a trident instead of a mermaid on the cover.  While not everyone liked this change, I think it felt truer to the book than either of the prior versions.  The book stars a male protagonist, so the female on the cover was confusing.  Plus, guys are likelier to pick this new version up.

I like the feel of the final cover in person.  Different parts of the image are raised, adding texture.  I especially love the texture in the title and am excited that it's been replicated for the sequel, THE SAVAGE BLUE.  I love all the action going on in this cover, from the churning waves in the background to the way the sharp tips of the trident glint and give off life.  

I think the new cover definitely suits this book.  
What are your thoughts?

Also, check out the fun interior design that begins each and every chapter:

I love the way it reflects the cover, don't you?  From the trident above the chapter to the way the nested "I" reminds me of the gorgeous font used on the book's title, it works for me!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Zoraida Córdova
Release Date: Out May 01, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Received: Purchased


For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.

He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.

His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he’s heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.

Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.