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review 2019-05-28 09:50
"Into the Drowning Deep - Rolling in the Deep #1" by Mira Grant
Into the Drowning Deep - Mira Grant,Christine Lakin

Mira Grant has done something wonderful in this book. She's written a speculative fiction thriller that gives me all the things I liked most in the best Michael Crichton books: edgy but plausible science, a growing sense of doom, a big cast of characters to put in peril, really scary creatures and lots of tension-cranking, page-turning, how-will-they-get-out-of-that action. Then she's surpassed Crichton by giving the leading roles to a diverse set of credibly written women who do what needs to be done without becoming super-soldiers in a dress.

 

When I finished this book, I wanted to applaud, then I wanted to hear that the SyFy Channel is going to make this into a series with the same production standards as "The Expanse", then I wanted the next book to be available right now. For the moment, applause is all I can manage, so here I go.

 

The premise of the book is relatively straight forward: Magic, an entertainment channel for nerds, sets out to make a mockumentary about mermaids in the deepest part of the Pacific. All goes well until they find them and everybody dies in what is assumed to be a maritime disaster with some fake footage attached. Ten years later, Magic is sending out a second voyage in an attempt to retrieve its reputation by bringing back proof that we are not alone in the seas. What could possibly go wrong?

 

From the start, I loved the tense but unrushed feel of this book. Mira Grant has the self-confidence to let the situation unfold slowly while seeding a large set of characters interesting enough for me to become invested in. She's then bold enough to demonstrate early that she's willing to do terrible and irrevocable things even to characters I'm cheering for.

 

She eschews creature feature schlock horror for something more subtle, something that doesn't slash at the reader, summoning arterial sprays of horror, but sinks its many needle-sharp teeth deep into the meat of my imagination and then gnaws on me slowly.

The emotional impact of the book is powered by the struggles of the women at the heart of the story. They aren't soldiers. They have no super-powers. They are mostly scientists armed with nothing but knowledge, courage and an ability to work together. There are men in the story but they're largely there to provide an emotional context for the women or to do the stupid, venal, violent things required by the plot.

 

I enjoyed the way science was used in the story. I know nothing about marine biology but I never felt left behind, nor was I force-fed slabs of not-many-people-know-this research. By starting the story in the recent past and setting most of the action in the near future (2022), Mira Grant is able to use current research on climate change, oceanography and marine biology to set a context and can then stretch things a little to allow for future developments. Her version of "mermaid" is original, credible and very, very scary.

 

I listened to the, seventeen hour long, audiobook version of "Into The Drowning Deep", narrated by Christine Lakin, who does a wonderful job of bringing the wide range of characters to life and matching the pace of the storytelling. The only flaw in her performance is one of the worst Australian accents I've ever heard, but that was a minor distraction in an otherwise strong performance. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample of her work.

https://soundcloud.com/audiolibrary-a/into-the-drowning-deep-by-mira-grant-audiobook-excerpt
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text 2019-05-25 17:18
Reading progress update: I've read 49%. This demands to be a high production standard TV series by HBO or SyFi
Into the Drowning Deep - Mira Grant,Christine Lakin

I love the tense but unrushed feel of this book. It has the selfconfdence to let the situation unfold slowly while seeding a large set of characters interesting enough for me to become invested in and is then bold enough to do terrible, irrevocable things to them.

 

It eschews creature feature schlock horror for something more subtle, something that doesn't slash at the reader, summoning arterial sprays of horror, but sinks its many needle sharp teeth deep into the meat of my imagination and then gnaw on me slowly.

 

 

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text 2019-05-23 00:49
Reading progress update: I've read 10%.
Into the Drowning Deep - Mira Grant,Christine Lakin

This has gotten off to a strong, confident start. It reminds me of Michael Crichton at his best, with the added bonus of being able to write believable women.

 

My favourite quote so far is a rare flash of humour in defence of declining to eat pig meat.

 

"I never eat anything that can play Fetch. It's rude."

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review 2019-04-23 23:26
Into the Drowning Deep / Mira Grant
Into the Drowning Deep - Mira Grant

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.
 

 

I’ve rated this book highly for a horror novel--they’re not usually my jam. But I know that Mira Grant is a pseudonym for one of my favourite authors, Seanan McGuire, and I also knew going in that it featured mermaids. I hadn’t realized quite how loomingly horrific it would be, nor how much blood & gore would be splashed about. However, the messiness of the action was justified by the nature of the mermaids and, although I had to read during daylight hours only, I enjoyed the mysterious creatures and their almost-victims.

I enjoyed the scientific nature of this sea excursion--plenty of scientists who didn’t believe in the existence of mermaids, but were willing to go along to pursue their own research. Everyone with their own scientific or political axe to grind, trying to use the expedition to their advantage. Somehow, everyone manages to overlook the fact that the first ship sent was discovered, empty of humans, but with horrific video footage. Of course, the video is deemed to be fiction or a hoax, and even those who believe what they saw are somehow talked into coming along on this venture.

I thought that the name of the deep sea rover, The Minnow, was fabulous--evoking Gilligan’s Island, with the lost ship, being stranded, and having to improvise. The notion that a 3 hour tour would turn into a life-changing event. 

These mermaids are very different from those in McGuire’s October Daye series, where they are a branch of the Fae. Here they are terrifying predators, spreading fear and death throughout the ship.

Read as part of my 2019 MerMay project. 

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text 2019-04-19 20:09
Reading progress update: I've read 219 out of 512 pages.
Into the Drowning Deep - Mira Grant

The Atargatis had found the mermaids because the people on the ship were made ofmeat, and the mermaids had empty stomachs that they wanted tofill. That was how you found things, in the sea. Be delicious. That was all you ever had to do.

 

Oh, Char, I think this is what you call a creature feature!

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