#CBR8 Review #80

Sea Spell by Jennifer Donnelly

I really enjoyed Jennifer Donnelly’s Waterfire saga, and I’m sad that the last book has been published. I don’t want to say too much about this last book, because I don’t want to spoil you all on the series. So what I’ve decided to do instead of a traditional review is give you a list of Reasons to Read This Series, as affirmed by the final book, Sea Spell.

Here we are:

*Its emphasis is on female friendship as a means of solving problems. Six mermaids are asked to come together to stop an evil overlord. The series spends time developing each of their stories, and the last book develops Ava’s and Astrid’s plots, which rounds out the six that have been developed throughout the series.

*The love stories do not overpower the overarching conflict or individual development. Yes, there is romance in here. HOWEVER, the mermaids are not pitiful Bella Swans. They juggle complex emotions and learn how to focus on a variety of emotions, beyond just romantic love. And furthermore, romantic love does not get the last say in the last book.

*The characters are fairly diverse, as far as ethnicity, ability, and language ability are concerned. I think that’s important, especially since young women are not a homogenous species. I do think Donnelly could have developed more in the line of exploring sexual orientation, in keeping with her focus on diversity. But she does a great job in exploring disability, which is not a small thing.

*The writing grows by leaps and bounds throughout the series. As the books progress, Donnelly shies away from cheesy jokes and builds a complex and interesting world. The action is engaging, and the tension builds quite nicely throughout the books. The chapters are short but packed full of meaningful action. Donnelly does not pad the books unnecessarily but keeps the plot as concise as she can.

*Did I mention this book is about young women, that feminism is a major theme and focus? Seriously, it’s awesome. Go and read it. The first book, Deep Blue, is a bit of a rocky start, but Rogue Wave and Dark Tide, are amazing, and Sea Spell is a fine finish to the rest of the series. [sidenote: there is an intriguing loose end that could spin off a different book, should Ms. Donnelly choose, but it’s a good and faithful finish for the fans of the series]

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