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Deeplight

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My own invention," explained Dr. Vyne with surprising warmth, turning a large wheel to lower the sub into the water. I call her the Screaming Butterfly. She's a prototype." As usual, Hardinge's characters are morally ambiguous and their relationships are dysfunctional but relatable. At the start, Hark's only friend is an older boy named Jelt who has saved his life several times...but also endangered it on many others, as much as Hark tries to tell himself differently. The changing dynamics of that relationship and Hark's new, more mature friendships with others are part of a strange coming of age for a street smart boy who has neither been trusting nor trustworthy up to now. This is one of the best YA novels I’ve read in a long time, and will most likely secure a place in my top ten books of the year, and here’s why: But not everyone is glad to be free from the brutal rule, or rather terror, of the Gods. “He had always lived in a godless world, and yet… everyone he knew had grown up with a lurking pride in their island’s ‘patron’ god. Their remembered might was yours, somehow. Even their horrific nature had a majesty that you could borrow. You got into drunken arguments with folks from other islands about whose god could have beaten the other in a straight fight.” After all, people tend to look for their identity, their pride, the entire meaning of life in the strangest places. The stories have tremendous power over us, shaping our desires and wants and directing our lives down paths that may be strange and dangerous. “I had hoped that younger generations would grow up without our craven god-fever, but I still see traces of it everywhere – even in you. There is an eagerness, a poisonous nostalgia. No, throughout the Myriad, people would fall on to their faces and give in to their ancient superstitious terror.” Deeplight is a young adult fantasy novel by Frances Hardinge, published October 31, 2019 by Macmillan Children's Books. It is her 9th novel.

There are a lot of moral questions here if you want to think deep, but on the surface this is just a really unique story about a world far different from ours. I loved the complexity and the details, though there was never so much it weighed down the story and kept it from travelling at a nice steady pace.The elite divers are the ‘sea-kissed’, who have lost their hearing to the depths. One such sea-kissed smuggler is called Selphin. She’s my favourite character. Selphin doesn’t have time for foolishness, especially not the main character’s creepy godware business. I love how blunt, stubborn and fiery she is. Besides being a cool, complex character, she’s also an authentic representation of deafness. She communicates through sign and speech, as do almost all the Myriddians. The sign for ‘jellyfish’ in their sign language is the same sign they use for an insult meaning ‘spineless’. The feeling of reeling devastation when you realise that a newly discovered author has published countless books in the past decade and you didn't even know of their existence? Followed by a rush of utter delight when you realise that you're free to devour all of their books now without having to wait years for a new release? Priceless. The world building is one of a kind. It's one of those places that you would love to explore but would not want to live there at the same time. It's a place filled to the brim with stories. The characters are drawn just as well. What I really appreciate is that the author included deaf representation. She was approached by a reader one day who asked her whether she would consider writing about deaf characters. Not only did Frances Hardinge proceed to do so, she also worked closely with the said fan and her community to ensure an accurate deaf representation and she ended up dedicating the book to the girl. And that, my friends, is how to be a decent ally. This is the newest fantasy adventure by this author and the 4th of hers that I've read. It's also instantly one of my favorites.

The marine magic, lore and setting kept alternately reminding me of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea, Rivers Solomon's The Deep, and strongest of all Robin Hobb's Liveships. All of which have in their part helped keep one encouraged to dwell into these fantastical realms for the occasional catch. This now included. The worlds she creates are so unique, so truly different, so vibrant, so well fleshed-out that most other writers would have set as many stories as possible in such a place - but Hardinge instead with every story tirelessly creates a completely new and completely *alive* universe, with its own rules and settings and fabric, and none of those are repetitive, and all are a bit strange and beautiful at the same time.

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Kly's patience and discretion had been eked out one more time, but Hark guessed that they were probably at their limits. "This is your last warning" was something people might say several times, but there was always a last last warning, and Hark thought he might have reached it. It had a different sound, something you could feel in your bones. But it's also about the power of storytelling: the stories we tell to and about ourselves, our friends, and even our gods - and how we respond when the stories are challenged. And boy, is every story Hark has ever told or believed about to go down. You will find out who you are when your choices test you. In the end, we are what we do and what we allow to be done. It took a few chapters for it to grab me, but in the end I really enjoyed this story. At first, I was a bit disturbed about the 2 main characters' relationship, but as the story unfolded, I knew it was going somewhere I could accept. Hark is a troubled young orphan being constantly led astray by his best buddy, Jelt. They're living in a world where the gods are dead and pieces of them can still be found in the ocean. These pieces can be used for technological advancement - or sold to the highest bidder. Naturally, one particular piece might just be lurking, waiting to get Hark into an ocean of trouble ...

You will find out who you are when your choices test you. In the end, we are what we do and what we allow to be done.’ What I might've been left missing still was maybe some added 'edginess' somewhere - in the story, the dialogue, or with certain enhanced character dimensionalities? Not quite sure. It does get quite dark in places and there's not really any humour in it, but it raises some really interesting ideas and provides some wonderful characters for us to judge with all of our perfect righteousness (note sarcasm). I feel quite justified in calling Jelt a jerk, though. It's been a while since I hated a character this much. Ironically, for a book in which the characters are constantly at risk of drowning, Deeplight is the first Hardinge book I've read that doesn't feel like I am drowning in it. The elaborate similes and stylized language are considerably toned down; the growing sense of paranoia and destabilization present in all Hardinge books is tempered by an odd note of nostalgia and trustworthy friends. Instead of immediately plunging into a world in which Things Are Wrong And Getting Worse, this book starts in a more mundane place and takes a while to really get going. Deeplight was without a doubt one of my favourite books of 2019. This is the kind of book that made me fall in love with fantasy in the first place: magical, unforeseeable, one of a kind, entirely addictive.I admit I didn't absolutely LOVE this book until we were getting to the big action near the end, but between that and the final resolution, I was VERY satisfied. It pushed all my buttons. But even bits of the dead gods have power and value, and when Hark comes across a strange, pulsing, perforated object on the ocean floor, he doesn't realize what consequences it will have for him and his friends, for Myriad and its dead gods. Still thinking myself something of a magical fantasy skeptic, I'm pleasantly surprised how swell this was. Excellently atmospheric Saturday listen; the plot, the character handling, the naturalness of the world... all elements played together with the ease of undetectable effort. Nothing stood out cumbersome or forced, and my brain didn't once pause to question tropes or hurry on.

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