Partnered Review: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

“Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But one day. I would release the tears, the ache, the regret, the sorrow. I would let it all fall down into the great vanishing deep.”

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Notice: this book was sent to me by Penguin Teen as part of the Penguin Teen Partner Program. This does not affect my opinions of the work.

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.

This book came at a perfect time to wane off a reading slump. I had just finished another book that put me in an odd, introspective mood that I wasn’t sure how to move on from. The Vanishing Deep provided a story that sucked me in from the first page and gave me an opportunity to dive (get it) into a world other than my own.

In the most benevolent intentions, I can best describe this book as a wide mix of different YA genres. I briefly touched on this in my reading vlog surrounding this book, but there’s a little bit of everything for almost everyone. Such as:

For my science fiction lovers: The Vanishing Deep is driven by the concept of a world where it is possible to revive someone that has died by developing interesting scientific capabilities.

For my dystopia lovers: The Vanishing Deep is all about a world that has adapted to life on the ocean. The little land that remains takes the form of scattered islands that you’d have to voyage dark waters to reach.

For my mystery lovers: a lot of The Vanishing Deep is driven by Tempe and Elysea’s quest to discover what happened to their parents.

And so on. I appreciated this aspect of the book because it’s the first time I’ve seen a genre assemblage executed in a way that didn’t bog down the story. The subplots containing all of these elements connected in a way that felt reasonable, so I never found myself getting removed from the plot by confusion.

Finally, a deeper side of this fictional story is the real, nonfiction question of how to cope with losing someone we love. Tempe explores the way she dealt with losing her whole family throughout the book and it was interesting to see her perspective shift. I think the most astounding moment that really stood out to me was the following quote:

“I thought I had my entire adult life to know and enjoy my parents. To ask the things you never thought of as a child. But I’d never considered my parents as anything other than the people who loved and raised me. I didn’t get to know them as Mindra and Deren. Now it was too late.”

This quote seriously resonated with me. In my own adult life as I am inching toward 20-years-old, I am entering the point in life where I am getting to know my parents as more than just my parents. Making that personal connection to this story and seeing the regret that Tempe felt for taking her parents for granted really pushed me to remember how lucky I am to have mine. The same goes for those who have siblings.

In all, The Vanishing Deep was a story that immersed me in its world and prompted me to insert parts of myself into the lives of the characters. If you’re looking for a book with vivid world-building, genuine family dynamics, and a whole bunch of subplots, this is the book for you.

With that being said, I have two main criticisms for this book. The first being the inclusion of romance in this story, and the second being my issues with the plot of the last 50 pages. They’re intertwined, but let’s start with the romance.

As a general note, nearly every book I read at this point includes romance, so I feel as though I’ve got a firmly-established background on how believable and emotionally-invested YA romances typically progress. That said, the attraction between Tempe and Lor was so very superficial. The deep looks, body language, and nonverbal communication felt very convenient for acquaintances that had known each other for less than 24 hours. Yet somehow, Lor stares deeply at Tempe and deciphers nearly everything about her. And in the course of <24 hours, she decides that he is her world. Hm, interesting.

In all, I feel as though the romance added nothing to the plot besides more angst, which it already had enough of considering the fact that the entire book is a countdown of time before Elysea returns to being dead.

Lastly, upon contemplation, the final 50-page subplot felt utterly and entirely pointless. Obviously, I can’t say much as to why I felt this way, but when I juxtapose the final subplot with all of the other subplots of the book, the last one felt like it could’ve been discarded entirely and the book would’ve had the same outcome. (Kinda).

In all though, the cons of this story are greatly outweighed by its pros. I enjoyed reading The Vanishing Deep, and I do recommend you give it a read and let me know what you think!

Again, thank you so much to Penguin Teen for sending me a review copy of this book! I did an Instagram activation post for the book’s release, and I’d appreciate if you’d like it!

2 thoughts on “Partnered Review: The Vanishing Deep by Astrid Scholte

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