Jove, $7.99, ISBN 0-515-14222-0
MaryJanice Davidson’s new series for Jove kicks off with Sleeping with the Fishes. The heroine, Dr Fredrika Shea Bimm, is a mermaid. The author says in her foreword that she tried to make this heroine different from Betsy from her Undead and Whatever series but I don’t see any difference between the two heroines to be honest, unless I am to clutch at straws and play with semantics like Betsy is obsessed with designer shoes and Fred isn’t.
The best thing about this book is Ms Davidson’s fabulous three-paged acknowledgement to her editor Cindy Hwang. It is everything the rest of the book isn’t – it is tightly written, it is going somewhere, it has moving heartfelt moments, it has inspirational feel-good moments, and it has the best last two paragraphs this author has ever put down in a page.
I have to put down this book because the author revealed that Sleeping with the Fishes is written under far from happy circumstances in the author’s life and we all know what that is like, I’m sure. However, the end result remains the same: this book is just not good. It has very little canon, the current story in the book exists without any substantial background details – in short, it exists in a vacuum, and the book is intended to be carried to the finish line by the heroine’s “snark”. Unfortunately, in this case “snark” has nothing to do with wit as much as it is a bastardized form of “snark”. A “Livejournal teenage girl thinking that just because she cusses and calls people names she’s now all about the ha-ha’s!” kind of snark, if you all.
The story kicks off with ten pages of Fred throwing all kinds of drama and even physically whacking her stepfather because she catches him and her mother having sex. Ten pages of drama which sees Fred saying lines like “Mom, he was fucking my mother. He’s a motherfucker!”
Fred is 29. There’s a “Dr” in front of her name. The only reason why this book isn’t a complete loss is that while this book approaches Katie MacAlister territory, our heroine Fred doesn’t come off as that much of a seriously brain-damaged creature who needs to be put down to end everyone’s misery. She’s pretty stupid and annoying, but there are worse out there.
Anyway, she soon gets involved in a mission involving water pollution and a merman prince, but everything in this story is so paper-thin that if this book can somehow be put through a sieve, there will be nothing in the sieve afterwards because that’s how anemic this story is. Details are skimpy. Fred has hair the color of the ocean, I’m told, although I’ve no idea what that looks like. I’m not told how she manages to get past school if she has hair and eyes of her color. Instead, Fred is not making caustic one-liners one after the other.
I suspect Sleeping with the Fishes will appeal to Livejournal teenage girls if these girls manage to find some time to read. After all, Fred is this current generation’s version of a Mary Sue heroine. She can behave like a self-absorbed teenage brat without facing any repercussions, she can somehow grow up and become a PhD holder in marine biology while remaining thirteen, intellectually, men all adore her for her wit as well as her perfect body, and Fred doesn’t need to change or grow up in this story because she’s perfect that way. The plot is barely there, the secondary characters are merely there, and the heroine’s mouth moves more than the plot.
Do read the acknowledgement of this book though if you come across this book in the bookstore. It’s easily the best thing in this book and it’s only three pages long, so it will be a quick read unlike the rest of the book which is best left for the author’s most devoted fans.