Rolling in the Deep
by Mira Grant
Cover Artist: Julie Dillon
Review by Gayle Surrette
Subterranean Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596067080
Date: 07 April 2015 List Price $40.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Rolling in the Deep starts with a snippet from the text of a documentary, Modern Ghost Ships: The Atargatis, put together by the Imagine Network. We learn from this extract that none of the people aboard the Atargatis were aboard when it was found. Thus, there's no pressure -- they all disappear, or die, or something. So why emotionally invest in this story? But readers will find they'll be drawn into the story and wondering just what will happen to the people on board.
The tale begins with an introduction to Captain Seghers and her bridge crew and how she was hired to take the news crew and scientists hired by the network out to a set of coordinates in the ocean and to stay there for a specified amount of time. While there, the scientists will collect data and search for mermaids as part of the network's new focus on reality documentaries.
In a novella, there's not much room for developing the characters and there's a huge number of them for so short a work, so many are stereotypical for the position they hold, whether news commentator, camera player, scientist, intern, captain or crew, or entertainers. A few were a little more 'real' than others, and while all were recognizable, most weren't really likeable, or people you cared about. Most of the tension is built by the well-defined though atmospheric sense of menace that increases as results come in from their probes, and from the short snippets from the documentary created from the information gathered on the ship after it was found.
There's also a sense of ambiguity since, after all, this is most likely a narration developed from the documents and tapes recovered from the Atargatis. So, how much is real and how much is imagination is up to the reader. Or is the whole thing a hoax by the network? Or, to be a bit self-referential, is the whole thing the imaginative musings of a gifted writer, as are all stories? In an age when Reality TV is extremely popular, perhaps because the real and the fantasy are so hard to distinguish, how do we know if we're reading fiction, non-fiction, or creative fiction? Grant mixes what seems like journalistic documentary entries with story so that the line gets blurred for the reader, at least while you're deep into the story.
All in all, an interesting and absorbing story that raises a lot of questions about reality documentaries and their rising popularity. While it may be thought provoking, it is definitely entertaining.