Well, what can I say about this one? This is a Young Adults type of paperback intended to ring a few changes on the story of The Little Mermaid. Debbie Viguie wrote it; I gather she specializes in retelling fairly tales. The copyright date is 2003 and the publisher of my edition is Simon Pulse.
CLIFFIE'S NOTES ON THIS SLIM VOLUME:
>> The story has a pleasant Green Child feeling to it that makes the story just... about... bearable. But that was almost the only bearable thing about this novel.
>> The author clearly has NO FEELING for the lives we lead underwater. As near as I can tell, she sees NO DIFFERENCE between human and piscatorial love AT ALL. The life of a Mermaid -- as if we were still making them at this late date! -- seems in this book to be identical to that of any teenaged human. PERISH FORBID!
>> The story seems to be set "long ago and far away," in the seaside kingdom of Aster. But the author keeps lapsing into last week's American slang. The characters also behave in modern American ways, for instance the fact that not one, but two members of Aster's aristocracy, one of them bound to sit on the throne someday, are planning to marry pretty commoners who are CLEARLY NOT QUITE HUMAN, with the cheerful blessings of their fathers. In fact, I was struck by the way all the parents in this story take a modern, American "do whatever makes you happy, honey" type of approach to childrearing. It makes it 100% impossible to believe as you read along.
>> I kept wanting to say "Get real!" as I read this one. If greenish, translucent naked people kept washing up on the beach in any "long ago and far away" place on MY home planet, they would have been stoned to death or burned as witches, not married off to princes. In fact, it would probably happen pretty much the same way if they started washing up this week, although I assume they would be interrogated and dissected before disposal. Come on! If it were THAT easy, we wouldn't need to hide ourselves in the first place.
>> Listen up, Debbie: Mermaids have NO interest in marrying men on land. They draw them into the sea like Lemmings -- NOT the other way around. The operatives who marry men on land do it to produce more landfish who can eventually join us in the deep. The men are welcome to join us there, too, but if they resist or blow our cover, they will be KILLED and EATEN.
>> This story stands to profoundly confuse young girls who may already be in the process of transformation. And you know how gullible even partially-transformed Naked Apes can be when they read anything that's been published. They tend to treat it as factual, authoritative, binding, NO MATTER HOW BIZARRELY WRONG IT IS. Think of the characters in all those movies and stories -- 'Salem's Lot is a good example -- seriously discussing how to kill vampires based on the comic books they've read. Real life is no different among the Shaved Monkeys; I see it all the time. I used to think that way myself when I was a fully-human travel agent. I blush to remember it now. Except I can no longer blush.
>> Viguie's take on the story guts the whole meaning of The Little Mermaid, as it applies to the fish reader. There are close calls, but no killings. Everyone who is captured escapes in time. The evil spells laid by the Sea Witch are easy to fix. And the ending is happy. Everyone pairs off with his or her One True Love. NOBODY GETS EATEN. Why not put a diagonal banner across the front cover, saying "Sanitized For Your Protection"? Here's a news flash, Debbie: YOU CAN'T WRITE A WAR STORY WITHOUT KILLING OFF A FEW SOLDIERS. I know, I know, humans are clueless about what it is really about when they fall in love with a fish.
>> One piece of this story is a JUST PLAIN OFFENSIVE. Faye, one of the greenish, translucent women who washes ashore, not only FALLS IN LOVE WITH A HUMAN (spare me) but at one point makes some sort of plea to a Higher Power to change her into what she really is -- human. And the wish is granted! I THOUGHT I WAS GONNA PUKE.
>> And Pearl, our protagonist? Her, I wanted to strangle. ALL our operatives come ashore with a clear, burning, core purpose AND NOTHING CAN TURN US AWAY FROM THAT. That would not be an accurate description of little Pearl, who's buffeted hither and yon by every new development and every male biped who bats his eyes at her and tell her he loves her. All she does, for 197 pages, is kind of hope things will come out okay. GET A GRIP, KID. SERIOUSLY.
>> Ultimately, though, this story left no taste in my mouth. Why? Because there was NO PISCATORIAL LOVE IN IT. None of the fish characters were remotely like the real thing -- they don't even EAT fish, for crying out loud. The Sea Witch wasn't scary. The underwater world wasn't even described. There was no longing to go home to the sea. There was no dread of life up on dry land. IT DIDN'T HURT THE MERMAIDS TO WALK! There was no dramatic tension.
Obviously, I can't recommend this one any more than I can recommend Jaws. Why deliberately spread wrong ideas? And let me note right here on the Internet that I WILL NOT TOLERATE the use of this sort of reading material as disinformation to conceal our true motives. The destructive potential JUST ISN'T WORTH IT.