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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Swimming Without a Net

**** Swimming Without a Net by MaryJanice Davidson. Contemporary fantasy.

This is the second book in the series about Fred the mermaid. In the first, Sleeping with the Fishes, we meet Fred, who's, fittingly, a marine biologist; her boss Dr. Barb, her best friend Jonas who has a thing for Dr. Barb; and Fred's two beaus: mer-man prince Artur, and wealthy fellow marine biologist Thomas.

It's been a year, and Fred hasn't seen either Artur or Thomas. Then she gets a summons from the mermaid King Mekkam to go to the Caymans and attend the Pelagic--a gathering of all the mer-folk--where they'll be deciding whether to remain hidden or to reveal themselves to humans.

Fred brings Jonas along for moral support, and when she arrives, she discovers that both Artur and Thomas (with a specially built underwater RV) are there--mermaid etiquette demands that Artur provide his rival with an equal opportunity to woo Fred.

We get to meet more merfolk and see humanity through their eyes, which was well-done, I thought. Different factions of the merfolk have different opinions of humanity, so it was a more balanced view than one usually gets from non-humans in fantasy novels, but the opposing viewpoints were still convincingly outsider opinions.

We also get to see more of the mermaid society and how it works, and again it's convincingly different from human society, taking into account the merfolk's differences, such as telepathy.

And Fred finally learns about her bio-dad, as she calls him, and that was also well explained and fit well with the overall plot.

Fred, too, seems to have come into her own in this book--her voice is clearer and less like Queen Betsy's.

The only problem is that it wasn't much of a plot. Lots of worldbuilding, but there could definitely have been a few more examples of the pros and cons of revealing themselves, and maybe a few more concrete examples of why Fred's having trouble choosing between Artur and Thomas.

There is, by the way, some resolution of the triangle at the end, but there's also a hint that it's still not going to go smoothly.

I'm looking forward to the next book, Fish out of Water, in November.

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I am reading this at the moment. At halfway through I have to say that I am liking it better than I liked the first book in this series - or maybe it is that I am getting used to MJD's voice.
Okay...so maybe not better. Ended up just being an okay read.
LOL, Marg! That was kind of my reaction, too. The first half of the book, I was all enthusiastic, but it didn't really pan out.

I do think she has the voice down better in this one, but the plot isn't quite as good.
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