Book Review: The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Goodreads: The Deep
Publisher: Saga Press
Published: 05 November 2019
Genre: Adult SFF

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.

Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future,” The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting.

TL;DR: This was a stunning little novella that packs a punch for how short it is. Through this fantastical world, Solomon does an incredible job exploring intergenerational trauma, the impact of shared memories and identity. While this might be a sombre read it’s written in a way that’s not oppressive or heavy and I could’ve read so much more of the lore, the setting and the characters. This was definitely a unique read that I think will churn through my mind for days to come and I can’t wait to read more of what Solomon has written! I would also highly recommend the audiobook because Daveed Diggs’ narration really helped to give this story life.

Audiobook narration: As I said, Diggs’ narration is fantastic. Perhaps it’s because he was also involved in one form of the story’s telling through his group’s song of the same title, but I felt his narration really brought the story and the characters to life. He managed to capture the haunting feeling of the writing with its melancholic tone, as well as the anger, fear, desperation and hope experienced by the various characters in their perspectives. I think this might’ve also been the first time that I listened to an audiobook at the regular x1.0 speed because I wanted to savour the story. I would definitely recommend the audio (and the book too, obviously)!

The story itself was nothing at all like what I expected. I was admittedly a bit confused at the start as we dive straight in with little context, and if I had anything to gripe about it’d be the fact that the transitions of perspectives were quite jarring throughout. That said, the premise describing this story being about ‘water-breathing African descendants [pregnant] slave women tossed overboard [who have] built their own underwater society’ was more than enough to pique my interest and right from the beginning, this story reeled me right in! Solomon’s writing was exquisitely simple and so evocative! I was honestly a little scared this would go over my head but once you get into the story, it’s so easy to follow and it wasn’t at all difficult to imagine this incredible underwater world, the mermaids and their history.

“Who each of them was mattered as much as who all of them were together.”

I was captivated by Yetu’s character and her role as Historian. In this role, it’s her duty to bear all the memories of her people; from the first wajinru to the last Historian that came before her, and while there are memories of happiness, hope and wonder, many are full of trauma, pain and suffering. Yetu’s desperation and fear for her own life if she continues to carry the weight of history alone is palpable and you can’t help but hope she finds peace. I was really invested in Yetu’s story and I was ultimately very satisfied with how everything comes ‘full circle’ in the end.

Have you read The Deep or is it on your TBR?

16 thoughts on “Book Review: The Deep by Rivers Solomon

  1. I’m loving that we’re seeing so many well-written novellas these days. I don’t read a ton of SFF but I like the idea of this audiobook! Great review, Dini!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here! I used to struggle so much with novellas now I’m reading them all the time? Thriving 😍 Aside from the whole ‘mermaid’ thing (lol) I’d say the SFF aspect is fairly light so still great for those don’t read the genre much. If you do give it a try, I hope you enjoy it!

      Like

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