Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"Underneath: a merfolk tale" by M.N. Arzu

As promised, here is the second review from my vacation reading. This one is a science fiction story involving merfolk. In this story, a man walking along a deserted beach comes across what he at first believes is a dead body wearing a fishtail costume. After calling 911, he realizes that the young man is still alive, and that the tail is actually part of his body and not a costume.

He records the encounter on his cellphone camera before the ambulance arrives to take the merman to the hospital. In the emergency room, it isn't long before the ER staff also realize the young man isn't human. They work to treat his injuries and save his life, though they don’t know how an apparent merman wound up injured and nearly dead, having washed up on the beach.

The merman clearly breathes air perfectly well, but where did he come from? Who was he? Was this his only form or could he somehow transform between merman and human? Were there others like him? Did they live among humans, in the ocean, or both? These were only some of the questions his discovery brought up.

Naturally, with a discovery such as this, government agencies and even the United Nations soon become involved. Ray (as the merman is called by his doctors) is transferred to an oceanic marine animal facility where he can be better (and more quietly) treated without the press printing stories and spreading rumors about a merman who was captured by the government is being held.

"Ray" is actually Christopher Brooks, the adopted son of the CEO of a tech company. His adopted family, like he himself, are merfolk who live quietly among the surface humans. They have the ability to transform between merfolk and human forms, although Christopher's tail injury has him currently trapped in his merman form until his tail can heal.

He also has another problem. The underwater city where a good portion of the merfolk reside has never been discovered or revealed to the human population, can he manage to keep the location a secret? Or will the scientists, the government officials, and the military men trying to study him get tired of his silence and move on to other methods to gain information from him before he can be rescued?

I liked this book. It was not merely a fantasy or a science fiction tale about the possibility of other forms of life besides our own. It was well thought out with believable reactions from all the characters involved, from the man who first found the merman to the family of the merman living among the humans. And while I do not have any type of medical knowledge or background myself, to me the actions and reactions of the various scientists, doctors, and military personnel involved seemed quite realistic as well.

This book is the first book in a series, though it does seem to work well enough as a stand alone novel for anyone simply wishing to read a single story. Will I continue on with the series? I haven't decided on that yet. I might at some point, but for now I think I will move onto something else for a bit. It was a good book, but not something I feel compelled to continue with right away.

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