Title: The Vanishing Deep
Author: Astrid Scholte
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: March 3rd 2020 from G.P Putnam’s Sons (Penguin)
Format: Physical ARC via BookishFirst
Goodreads Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Tempe was born into a world of water. When the Great Waves destroyed her planet, its people had to learn to survive living on the water, but the ruins of the cities below still called. Tempe dives daily, scavenging the ruins of a bygone era, searching for anything of value to trade for Notes. It isn’t food or clothing that she wants to buy, but her dead sister’s life. For a price, the research facility on the island of Palindromena will revive the dearly departed for twenty-four hours before returning them to death. It isn’t a heartfelt reunion that Tempe is after; she wants answers. Elysea died keeping a terrible secret, one that has ignited an unquenchable fury in Tempe: Her beloved sister was responsible for the death of their parents. Tempe wants to know why.
But once revived, Elysea has other plans. She doesn’t want to spend her last day in a cold room accounting for a crime she insists she didn’t commit. Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents’ death and mend their broken bond. But they’re pursued every step of the way by two Palindromena employees desperate to find them before Elysea’s time is up–and before the secret behind the revival process and the true cost of restored life is revealed.
**I was able to claim an ARC of this book from BookishFirst. But all thoughts and opinions are my own and no quotations will be used in this review**
When I first read a sample of this book on BookishFirst, this book immediately sucked me in. I could just feel that this was something special. So when my physical ARC came after spending the points you get on the website, I had to start reading it immediately. I binged this whenever I had the time and this is my first 5 star read of the year. Here are 5 reasons to check out The Vanishing Deep when it comes out:
- Brilliant and Thought Provoking World Building: In this world, the Great Waves covered most of the world in water. Barely any land is around anymore and people live on huge, man-made platforms that have capacity limits. People dive into the ruins of the world below to find things for money or even necessities to keep living. This world felt so real as I kept reading. Through Tempe’s eyes, we see how desperate people are and how bleak the world actually is. The author really works her magic in her world building, from the Palindromena island where people are revived, the lore of the Gods below and also how people live. This world felt so believable but also the descriptions of when Tempe dives into the world ruins below were gorgeous to read.
- Compelling Protagonist: While we do have two POVs in this story, Tempe (Tempest) is our protagonist. She lost her parents a couple years ago and recently lost her sister Elysea. Tempe is a grief hardened girl who doesn’t make friends or keep meaningful relationships. She’s set on reviving her sister, who knows the truth about what happened to their parents. It’s clear in the first chapter that she thinks she only wants answers from sister if she can revive her. But once Elysea is revived, the answers and the emotions that come with Elysea’s limited time really shapes Tempe. I understood why Tempe had a lot of sharp edges; she’s shaped by her bare circumstances and feels lost without her family. But when her sister is revived again, I loved seeing how their bond is both tested and also brought back again. I loved Tempe’s story arc and her progression was very natural. As far as Lor, he is a boy living on the Palindromena island who feels responsible for the death of his friend. He’s also an employee at Palindromena and becomes the person who councils and watches over Tempe and Elysea. I liked Lor well enough and he also had a good story arc.
- Perfect Pacing: This book had such great pacing that I was never bored. The author grips you and doesn’t let go the entire time. Once Elysea is revived, the plot really picks up with the girls trying to find answers, escape the island and Lor also following them. We travel to a few places in this world and the lore and world building are seamlessly intertwined with the action, tension and quiet moments. I had to keep turning the pages as the countdown began once Elysea was revived (someone can be revived for only 24 hours). The secrets that were revealed weren’t shocking but still compelling.
- Emotional Themes: By the time I finished this book, I couldn’t help but feel emotional over the story. This book really shows how someone can miss their family so much, but show their grief in different ways. There’s also the questions of what you would do with a family member if you had an extra day with them. Tempe is all raging emotion at first, but slowly starts to come to terms with her true self and allow herself to really show her true feelings. With Lor, we see a haunted boy who will do anything to not only feel redeemed, but also seeks the strength to fight against a company he disagrees with. I liked how the author revealed the gray morality of Palindromena and it was done so well. I liked how much emotional punch this book had. A book that makes you think after finishing it is always good.
- Satisfying Standalone: I really love the rising trend of standalone YA books. There’s so many series in progress or starting right now that I always love a standalone book, especially a completely satisfying one. Books like Sorcery of Thorns, Devils Unto Dust and this book have a perfect balance of great characters, full world building, an interesting plot and pacing that helps everything unfold naturally. I hope more books like this come out; rich worlds with compelling characters that also contain an emotional punch.
Overall: This book is truly amazing! This is the author’s sophomore novel and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. Her ideas in this books are so fresh and compelling that kept my attention. The ending did feel slightly rushed and a minor’s characters intention didn’t quite feel genuine, but that’s a tiny nit picky thing. This IS a 2020 release you can’t miss!
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Let me know in their comments!