Friday, August 31, 2007

RADAR: The Deep

Today is the final day of the Recommendations from Under the Radar event. Many thanks to Colleen Mondor from Chasing Ray for organizing this event.

This week I've focused on Helen Dunmore's Ingo series. Today I'm reviewing the third volume of the series, The Deep. It was recently released in the U.K., Canada, and Australia. We in the States will have to wait a year or so until we can purchase it here.

In the third volume of Helen Dunmore's Ingo series, the Mer are threatened by both internal and external challenges. The ancient Kraken has resurfaced and intends to destroy the world of the Mer. And the Mer face a power struggle within their own community: their leader, Saldowr, lies injured in his cave, unable to address the Mer. A power-hungry younger Merman, named Ervys, attempts to wrest influence over the Mer--who govern themselves in a loose democracy--while Saldowr recovers.

As Sapphire has already traveled to the deep to save the tides (in The Tide Knot), the Mer ask her to face the Kraken on her own. This request leads Sapphy to grow up considerably: she found the deep terrifying and has no desire to ever return there again. Yet, she could save an entire people if she returns. Saldowr emphasizes that it is Sapphy's choice--no one can make her face the Kraken--but, having a choice does not make coming to a decision any easier. If anything, it makes Sapphy's dilemma that much more difficult.

While The Deep concerns Sapphy's confrontation of the Kraken and is every bit as suspenseful and exciting as Ingo and The Tide Knot, it is also a more serious book. Sapphy grows up in this volume, realizing that she alone must make her own decisions. The theme of free will is present at home as well as Sapphy's mother proposes a move to Australia with her new boyfriend, Roger. Sapphy doesn't want to go, just as she doesn't want to travel to the deep. But she's learned she must choose and choose wisely.

Dunmore combines the magical world of Ingo under the seas with a pragmatic worldview I appreciate. No miraculous coincidences save or aid Sapphy and her conspirators (in this novel, her brother Conor and the Mer siblings Faro and Elvira). Sapphy must use her brain, her conscience, and her guts to save herself and others.

Dunmore's prose is at once lyrical and straightforward making the Ingo novels appropriate for children ages ten and up.
Today's RADAR posts:

A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy: The Vietnam books by Ellen Emerson White

Bildungsroman: The May Bird Trilogy by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Finding Wonderland: The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher

Not Your Mother's Bookclub: A look at some recently revised classics

Fuse Number 8: Stoneflight by George McHarque

lectitans: Gentle's Holler and Louisiana Song both by Kerry Madden

Chasing Ray: Kipling's Choice by Geert Spillebeen

Interactive Reader: A Plague of Sorcerers by Mary Frances Zambreno

The YA YA YAs: Resurrection Men by TK Welsh

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Such a Pretty Face: Short Stories About Beauty edited by Ann Angel

MotherReader: Things Left Unsaid