Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Lo and Celia are both not normal girls. Lo is a soulless ocean girl with no memory of her previous human life as Naida. She and her ocean sisters wait for the time when the angels will come and take them away. In the meantime, they can try to make human boys love them and drown them to return to get their souls back and return human form, but it has never worked, as far as any of them can remember. Celia and her two sisters are triplets, which is uncommon, but they also have special powers that allow them to see into various aspects of people's lives through touch. Celia considers her power to see into the past is basically useless, but finds purpose when she and Lo meet. They work together to save a boy from drowning. Celia, curious about Lo, looks for her later and works to help her remember her human self and how she came to be an ocean girl. They find themselves building relationships with the boy, Jude, and working against each other. Celia wants love, but Lo wants her soul back.
I love fairy tale retellings and Jackson Pearce's have been the best in the genre so far. Fathomless lives up to the rest of her novels and puts a new, dark spin on my favorite fairy tale, The Little Mermaid. The original tale by Hans Christian Andersen has some very dark elements, including the stabbing pain every time the mermaid steps in human form, her option to kill the prince to become a mermaid once again, and the unhappy, weirdly religious ending. Fathomless makes great use of these elements by slightly altering them instead of entirely omitting them like many other retellings. My favorite example of this is the ocean girls waiting to become angels. After they forget who they were and transform into cold ocean beings, an angel comes to free them and makes them into angels. Instead of being something beautiful and redemptive like in the original story, where the mermaid becomes an air spirit to earn her soul after she dies, this transformation is revealed to be something much more nefarious.
The characters and the plot are much more fleshed out than in the original tale. Lo is kind of like two people in one. The Lo personality is a soulless ocean girl, inhuman, cold, and dangerous. The Naida personality tries to hold on to every single human memory discovered with Celia's help. She is desperate to get her life back and return to human form. Celia is my favorite character. She has never really had an identity of her own and lives beneath her sisters' shadows. Lo presents her with a unique opportunity to use her special power to see into people's pasts, which she has always found to be patently useless. Jude became her first friend separate from her sisters and her first date. The romance is organic and sweet and also didn't overpower the story as is typical in YA books. These multidimensional characters really elevate the story and bring it into the modern age.
Fathomless is the best retelling of The Little Mermaid I have ever read. I love that Jackson Pearce chose to embrace the darkness of the original story while adding her own spin to it. I also like how it relates to both Sweetly and Sisters Red. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Cold Spell, a retelling of the Snow Queen.
My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins