Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review: THE DEEP by Jen Minkman (The Island #3)

Note: I received a copy of this novella from the author in exchange for an honest review.

This is the third installment in Jen Minkman's The Island novella series, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in which the inhabitants of an island are descendants of children who were spared from the plague. The first two novellas in the series were The Island and The Waves. 
From Goodreads:
"The world is never-ending.
I never realized just how much space there is – how far and wide the water around our island stretches out. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I may have believed that a second Wall ran around Tresco, containing the infinite waters so we wouldn’t all wash over the edge and plummet down into the depths.’

Leia and Walt are on their way to the Other Side, where the legendary land of Cornwall awaits them. Tony, their new friend, has told them that all wars of the past have been forgotten and the citizens of Bodmin and Dartmoor live in peace. People adhere to the tenets of an old religion that preaches forgiveness and non-violence.
However, Walt and Leia soon discover that even a peace-loving, ideal society like this one may have its flaws. While on a forbidden trip to Exeter, the old city of their ancestors, the two Islanders discover more about the new world than they ever bargained for.

Secrets run dark and passions run deep in this thrilling conclusion to the Island novella series."

The narrative switches between the perspectives of Leia, a girl who travels to Cornwall from Tresco, and Alisa, a girl who lives back on the island that Leia comes from. 

Turmoil rumbles on the island in which some people still want to believe Annabelle will return for them, while others are getting ready to make ships to connect Tresco to the rest of the world. Alisa, a young woman whose fiance Yorrick was killed by unfaithful priests for wanting to find the truth about their religion, now finds herself amid an increasing violence between the shipbuilders and the Phileans, who sabotage efforts to construct ships. 

Alisa comes across as a determined character who wants to protect people and get things done. I can see where her priorities are but she comes across as a dull character for me. When I first started reading it, her quiet patience and understanding towards Ben (the would-be rapist from The Island) made me think of her as a motherly figure, someone in her thirties and beyond. 

Then events lead her to meet Saul, who was the horrid tyrant from the first novella. I can see that the story is giving Saul a chance at redemption through his relationship with Alisa, but I don't buy it. Bad boy becomes good as a result of good girl's influence. Good girl sees aggressive bad boy in need of salvation, saves him with her goodness and timidness. When they're together, it's a mixture of romantic tension and a lot of awkwardness. Saul doesn't seem to want to change except because of her, which might be bad news after their honeymoon phase.

I don't see what's in it (the relationship) for Alisa except that she wants to save him. Saul's not really charming except for his aggressive, burly sense of protectiveness, which seems to charm the determined Alisa, who becomes shy and submissive and soft and murmur-y around him. Their relationship moves too quickly and despite the focus on their conversations, we don't get to see them fight at all. Alisa does everything that Saul tells her to do, and I have a hard time taking this relationship seriously because they get along too well despite the uneven dynamics of this relationship. I don't think that someone accustomed to power for so long like Saul would change so smoothly, even under the influence of Alisa--I need to see him trying to hold back his anger against her. I need to see him mess up and try to make amends (or not). How would he react if she disagreed with him or angered him? 

While I have trouble believing the happiness of the relationship of Alisa and Saul, I think Leia and Walt make a great pair. They're constant companions and they joke around with each other in a way that indicates a lot of chemistry. Neither really dominates the relationship. 

Leia has become a lot more inquisitive since The Island, which makes sense because her old perception of the world was shattered in that novella. Here, she's aware that there is a lot more than what is being shown--after observing some strange behaviors, she starts questioning the idea of justice in this "no pain" society.  

Overall, I enjoy the narration shared between Leia and Alisa's perspectives because it allows us to look at what's happening in the island and Cornwall--a wider scope of world building. I had trouble staying interested during some of the slower, exploratory scenes in the middle while others drew me back into the characters and their world.

The dystopian societies that these young people come into contact (and conflict) with are intriguing, particularly the "no pain" society, in which a good idea becomes twisted into a dysfunctional, rigidly-held rule. 

My rating: 

My reviews for The Island (#1) and The Waves (#2)

Find out more about The Deep (#3) by Jen Minkman at:

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