Genre: Middle Grade Adventure
Series: Stand Alone Novella
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books (July 12, 2016)
Length: 176 pages
My Rating: 3 stars
Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of “cross-channel” marketing. I mean, sure, I love all the Marvel superhero movies, but why must I never escape them, even when I’m pumping gas or buying groceries or picking up a Happy Meal for my children. Sometimes a lot of cross-channel marketing is not a good thing but a bad thing. So when my youngest son and I began reading Song of the Deep as a bedtime story a couple months ago, I was a little wary of it, having watched this same son of mine play the video game over and over and over again. Thankfully, though, Brian Hastings does a great job of building upon the core story of the game, crafting an engaging, fast-paced Middle Grades story that anyone can read and enjoy.
Our main character is twelve-year-old Merryn, who lives with her fisherman father (her mother having died several years before). The two share a fairly quiet life in a tiny house overlooking the sea. Every morning Merryn’s father goes out on his one-man fishing boat. Every night Merryn waits for him, standing atop the cliff with a candle in hand to guide him home. But while she knows her father wants it this way, our plucky protagonist continually asks to go with him to sea, so she can help him with his work. But her father’s fear of losing Merryn causes him to deny her repeated requests.
Things continue as they have until one night Merryn’s father does not come home. Determined to find him and rescue him, Merryn shows amazing resourcefulness in building a submarine and heading out to sea. This leads her into many amazing adventures, where she makes many good friends, gains some enemies as well, and slowly learns that the lullabies her mother once sang to her were much more than the silly songs they appeared!
Written for the 8-12 year-olds out there, this narrative does a great job of entertaining its readers with non-stop excitement while also taking time to develop Merryn as a determined and resourceful yet uncertain and scared kid. This young girl quickly becoming everything a parent could hope for in a daughter, as she shows amazing intelligence, strong morals, and a deep desire to always do the right thing for those she loves.
Song of the Deep also walks the fine line between accurately portraying the game it is based off of while still being a story unto itself. Definitely, the dramatic images of the game are there for players to see in print; it’s game play elements coming through, as Merryn is forced to solve problems and overcome obstacles which are taken straight from the game itself. But Brian Hastings does an excellent job of bringing a sense of realism to this undersea world of lost cities, leviathans, ocean legends, and even some surprising scifi themes.
Overall, this novel is an entertaining read which presents a nice, original world with a likable character. No doubt, young fans of the video game will enjoy it, but all Middle Grade fans of fast-paced adventure would most likely find it a fun read as well.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.