by Donna Jo Napoli
Mira, called the Fish Girl, is a mermaid, living in a seaside boardwalk attraction. The aquarium is actually pretty cool- it spans three stories of the building, with the windows looking directly into the water column, and the fishes can pass between floors through various openings and tunnels. I really enjoyed the artwork of marine life and showing the internal structure of the building with its hidden passages and machinery. Mira feels like she has always lived here, she doesn\’t question the story the showman Neptune tells, that he\’s king of the ocean, controlling the waves and life therein. Mira\’s part is to flit through the corals and plants, letting visitors catch glimpses of her- enough to pique their interest and bring more business in, but not enough that anyone will see her and reveal that Neptune actually has a real-live mermaid in his exhibit. Until she meets a human girl, who through secret visits on the other side of the glass, becomes her friend. Then Mira begins to question the stories Neptune tells. How did she really get here? Is she a captive? Is there more to life- outside the aquarium, out in the ocean- for her?
I really liked this book. The story uses some familiar ideas about mermaids, but also feels fresh and unique. I like that it was told from the mermaid\’s point of view, trying to understand the world through the confines of this series of interconnected tanks. Appreciated that the author didn\’t make it too easy- she couldn\’t immediately talk to her new human friend, for example (and although she communicates with the fishes, they don\’t talk back in words). But the ending still had a flourish of magic. I admit I was expecting it to go in one direction which I really would have loved- and instead it went somewhere else at the last moment. That\’s okay. It\’s been a while since I read a graphic novel, so having a lot of lovely artwork to immerse myself into was really enjoyable as well.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 3/5 188 pages, 2017
I think I'd like this too!