Review: Daughter of the Deep

Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I’ve loved Riordan’s books since I was seven, so even though Daughter of the Deep isn’t one of his Percy Jackson books, I thought I’d give it a try.

Read: June 19 – June 30, 2023

Book contains: mass murder/destruction, betrayal, manipulation

Hard to Get Into; Ending Made Me Cry

Ana Dakkar is a fourteen-year-old freshman student at Harding-Pencroft, a five-year boarding school for marine sciences. She, along with her nineteen classmates and their professor, Dr. Hewett, are just leaving for their end of year trials (in lieu of exams) when tragedy strikes. With their rival school, Land Institute, after them, Ana learns the esteemed ancestry of her family and is swept away by a tide of doom, despair, and desperation.

This book is basically a sequel (has been written that way) to Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island, though it can be read and understood successfully without reading those books first. (Both books have been added to my TBR shelf.)

To be honest, it was really hard to get into this book. Maybe because it wasn’t in the same world as other books by this favourite author of mine. Maybe because I was in an odd mood the week I picked it up. I don’t know. But as I continued, I found that I did, in fact, enjoy it, though not as much as I’d hoped to. It’s not a book that I’d read again now that I’ve read it once, which is why I left it at 3.5 stars.

It’s written in first person present tense, from the perspective of Ana Dakkar. She is on the cusp of her fifteenth birthday, has an older brother, and is a member of the freshman class at Harding-Pencroft. It’s quite an elite school, and there are only twenty teens left in her year (after others dropped out due to the intensity of the program). She’s a member of House Dolphin, which is known for communications, exploration, cryptography, and counterintelligence. She’s a great communicator because of this. Also, much of the descriptions and comparisons she gives when narrating are related to sea creatures or the ocean, which I found very cool. Riordan always does well in writing in the voice of his characters, rather than as himself. The tone remains consistent, though, which pleases me. Like much of his other work, Riordan uses humour to tackle darker topics, though it can be serious when it needs to be.

Ana Dakkar is the main character, along with her two close friends, Nelinha da Silva and Ester Harding, representatives of House Cephalopod and House Orca respectively. There is also Gemini Twain, a member of House Shark, and the rest of their classmates, many of whom are named and who do stuff but are not really delved into.

The cast is very diverse, not only in race and ethnicity, but in religion and other aspects as well. Ana (the main character) is Indian, Nelinha is a Brazilian scholarship student, Gemini is a black Morman, Ester is on the autism spectrum, etc.

As always, Riordan delivers detailed and quality work. It really feels like he understands what he’s writing, and I’m confident that he’s done the necessary research to get it to this level. From the marine science aspects to relative comments to naval command—I didn’t understand much so I can’t say for certain, but it felt right.

I admit it was a bit strange to read a female protagonist from Riordan, as he’s a man in his fifties. There was even mention of menstrual cramps, which many authors shy away from, especially in children’s fiction, so I can applaud Riordan for potentially stepping out of his comfort zone to touch upon real-life struggles within a fictional tale.

While I struggled to really get into this book, I really enjoyed it by the end. It had twists and turns, cliffhangers and suspense, action and adventure, and, of course, the ending made me tear up just a little. There was some real emotion in these pages, and I really recommend reading and sticking with this book. You won’t regret it.

Related Reviews:
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Lightning Thief
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea [eventually]

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