I’ll be honest with you, this was a strange review to write. This book was a real mixed bag for me: some parts were great, others were not so much. In Goodreads, this averaged out to an average rating book, but that doesn’t feel like it actually covers the truth of how I feel about this book.
The Deep is the story of the descendants of pregnant African slave women tossed overboard into the Atlantic Ocean during the height of the European and American slave trades. Hundreds of years have passed and these descendants live idyllic lives in the deep of the ocean – that is for all except the Historian, who is burdened with the memories of their ancestors and knowledge of their origins. Yetu, the current historian, struggles greatly under this burden as the painful and traumatic visions of her people’s past eat away at her. Driven to the edge of her sanity, she flees her responsibilities. This forces both herself and her people to confront their past and how that will shape their identity as a species.
So yeah, that has such great promise as a story! And it allows The Deep to explore some fascinating themes about how history and identity interweave. But honestly, I think some of the narrative and plot choices just don’t live up to this, in my opinion, and, in the end, I finished the book feeling pretty disappointed with where it went and how it ended. I think what epitomises this here is the complete lack of conflict between Yetu and another character who is also dealing with issues from the history of her people but in a very different way.
On the flip side to this disappointment is the good of this book, and there are many! Each character we meet has a strong, unique voice that makes them immediately identifiable, the descriptions and prose in general is beautiful and paints a wonderful image in your head, while – being a novella – the pace is fast and captures you from the word go.
So in summary, I guess I’d say Rivers Solomon has a real talent with words that jumps from each page of this book, and I would definitely recommend people read the book, but prepare to be bewildered by where the story goes – but not in the good way. However I am 100% happy I read this book and would recommend it as it still gets you thinking about the links between history and cultural identity. And hey, looking on Goodreads, most people seem to disagree with me about this book and love it.