Book Review: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Book: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

Published March 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|432 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

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 liked this one!  After reading Four Dead Queens last year, and really liking it, I knew I had to read this one.

Even though I didn’t like The Vanishing Deep as much as Four Dead Queens, it was still an enjoyable read.  This book was told over a very short period of time, so if you’re not a fan of books told in the span of one day, this might not be the book for you.  I liked seeing Tempe race against time, trying to figure everything out.

I completely get why she’d want to revive her sister.  After they lost their parents, I get why she would want answers.  I think I would want answers too.  Tempe gets answers, but I don’t think they were the ones she was looking for.  Looking back, it wasn’t that surprising, but when I was reading the book, I just wanted to know more.  I liked seeing how things unraveled.

Not surprisingly, things aren’t what they seem, and Tempe and Elysea learn what happened to their parents, and the truth behind the revival process.  I don’t want to give it away, but it was interesting and horrifying at the same time.

The underwater ruins seemed really cool, and I wanted to know more about how things got to the point where the Great Waves destroyed everything.  I’m curious about how they survived on the water for…however long it’s been like that.  I feel like it wasn’t mentioned but maybe I just don’t remember it, if it was mentioned.  When the book takes place over the span of one day, you’re not going to get a lot of details.  And it’s also a stand-alone, so when the book ends, that’s it.

While I’m curious to know more, and I wonder what things are like for the characters after the book ends, I’m also glad there aren’t more.  It is perfectly contained in one book, and like her previous book, there are plenty of stories you could write in this world.  It’s another book I’d love to see as a movie- with 24 hours to get things taken care of, it would make for a fast-paced, action-packed movie.

3 stars.  I liked The Vanishing Deep.  While I wanted to know more about Tempe’s world, I also thought what we learned was horrifying and interesting.

Book Review: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Book: Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Published February 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|432 pages

Where I Got It: I own the hardcover

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Keralie Corrington may seem harmless, but she’s, in fact, one of Quadara’s most skilled thieves and a liar. Varin, on the other hand, is an honest, upstanding citizen of Quadara’s most enlightened region, Eonia. He runs afoul of Keralie when she steals a package from him, putting his life in danger. When Varin attempts to retrieve the package, he and Keralie both find themselves entangled in a conspiracy that leaves all four of Quadara’s queens dead.

With no other choices and on the run from Keralie’s former employer, the two decide to join forces, endeavoring to discover who has killed the queens and save their own lives in the process. When their reluctant partnership blooms into a tenuous romance, they must overcome their own dark secrets in hopes of a future together that seemed impossible just days before. But first they have to stay alive and untangle the secrets behind the nation’s four dead queens.

An enthralling fast-paced murder mystery where competing agendas collide with deadly consequences, Four Dead Queens heralds the arrival of an exciting new YA talent. 

When I first started reading Four Dead Queens, I wasn’t sure about it, but I ended up really liking it!

Initially, the perspectives and timelines were a little weird.  Most of the queens seemed to be a lot older than Keralie, and that was a little weird to me.  Granted, their ages were never outright stated, except for one queen, Stessa.  Margeurite’s age was never given but it seemed like she was the oldest, and the other two, Iris and Corra, fell somewhere in between.  Some of them had pretty decent length chapters, and while it gave perspective to what was going on, it still felt a little odd to me.

The timeline made sense towards the end of the book, once the mystery of everything started unraveling.  For most of the book, it seemed like Keralie was trying to figure out what happened to them.  The timeline definitely surprised me, and there were some things I had completely guessed wrong.  Once things got going, and I got further into the book, I started liking it more.

It was an adventure, and I really, honestly felt like I was with Keralie the entire time.  I liked her, though I would have loved more of her backstory.  You get bits and pieces and references, but not much is said outright.  Even though the story focuses on her unraveling this plot, she seemed like a blank slate.  It does make it easy to see yourself as Keralie, but I also couldn’t tell you a whole lot about her.  A couple of moments would have had more weight to it had we had more of her backstory, in my opinion.

The world was interesting, and we get such a great idea of how the four queens came to be, and what each quadrant represents and believes in.  I still had trouble keeping all of them straight at the end of the book, but it did help that that there was something at the beginning of the book that had something about each quadrant.  I also liked the queenly laws at the beginning of the book, and we see those at the beginning of each chapter narrated by one of the queens.

I’m glad this book isn’t part of a series, because it worked really well as a stand-alone!  I think Scholte could tell a lot more stories set in this world, focusing on other characters, but this particular story is pretty complete.  I’d also LOVE to see this as a movie.  I pictured everything perfectly, and she really did write it in a way that made it so easy to see how everything would play.

4 stars.  I really liked Four Dead Queens, but I didn’t love it.  The timelines and perspectives took some time getting used to, but once I did, it was fun to see how things unraveled.