Jennifer Donnelly is a good author. I love her adult series, The Tea Rose (well actually 2/3 of it. The third book, The Wild Rose, I could do without) Most of books are historical fiction and you can tell she put in the time and effort to get the details of the time period right. Even for her YA titles, Northern Lights and Revolution. She knows how to tell a story that is full of romance and suspense that keeps you drawn in. I guess that is what I was expecting with her Waterfire Saga.
The first thing you may have noticed as I did that Rogue Wave as did Deep Blue, the first book in the series, has a mermaid on the cover. Clearly, this was not going to be her usual historical fiction novel. I don’t think it ever says when exactly this novel takes place but I feel it’s implied it’s in modern day. The Mer people are descendents from the lost city of Atlantis. Some of who adapted to the water after the city drowned into the sea and formed six different kingdoms in our oceans and seas. Our heroine, Serafina, is the princess of the Miromara, a Mer kingdom that spans the Mediterranean, Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Seas. On the day of she was supposed to be crown the heir of Miromara, they are attacked and she is forced to flee with her best friend, Neela. A princess from the Kingdom Matalia, located in the Indian Ocean. After many trials and tribulation, they find their way to the River Olt, where the famed Lele witches live. They meet up with four other princesses from the other Mer kingdoms and are told they are the descendents of the originals and only they can find the six talismans that will stop the big bad monster and save their world. Got it? I forgot to mention that Serafina was supposed to have been betrothed to Mahdi, the heir to Matali Empire and Neela’s cousin but that didn’t happen because all hell broke loose or and Mahdi may have been cheating on her. It wouldn’t be a true YA novel if it didn’t have some teen angst, right?
Rogue Wave starts as the six Mermaid Princess separate and go and find their talismans. Serafina, goes back to Miromara because she is sure there is something about Merrow, the mermaid she is descendent from and is also the one who hid all the talismans but of course that’s a dangerous since her home is in ruin and now ruled by Traho and his deathriders, who attacked them. Neela is heading back to Matali to try to warn her parents and hope they will take action. They both are constantly being chased by death riders and others who are also looking for the talisman but they are both smart and determined and find ways to get out of trouble.
The first book I thought was only kinda, meh. I didn’t have a problem with the story or the characters but It didn’t seem to have a lot of energy. I like Jennifer Donnelly as an author, so I guess I have certain expectations when it comes to her work and this I feel is not her best. I mean, props for her for trying something new but I feel it’s a little bit by the numbers. It’s like she had a checklist of everything that should be in a YA fantasy novel and checked things off one by one. Also the writing style is a bit off. I think they are going for a little younger end of the YA spectrum so the 13-15 crowd because it’s very tame. There is nothing anyone would be upset or offended about it. It’s a little surprising because as I said before, she has written YA novels before without dumbing them down. That may not be the best way to describe but she does spend a lot of time recapping what has already happened or spelling things out so the reader won’t miss it. it’s unnecessary and also slows down the pace of the book. Oh and don’t get me started on the cutesy sea lingo. Instead of calling each other girls, they say merls and they use currensea not currency. There are so many of them that a glossary is included at the end.
Rogue Wave is a better effort then Deep Blue but it’s still not up to her standards. It took her two books but by the end of this one I see that this a real purpose for her characters. It’s more then just collect six talismans and save the world. It’s also a great book of female friendships. Serafina and Neela’s friendship is great. They are strong and there for each other. We have barely had a chance to get to know the other four, Ling, Becca, Ava and Astrid but their was a beginning of a real bond between the them. Well the five of six. Astrid is the daughter of the leader who was first thought to behind the attacks and was seen as a outsider. I think that now that we have a real sense of what their mission is and who they are really up against, it’s only going to get better. So Miss Donnelly, you get another chance. It’s not a great series but one I’m willing to see how it goes.