Mermaids in Paradise: A Novel

By Lydia Millet
Publisher:W. W. Norton & Company, (11/3/2014)

Average Rating:
Mildly Unleashable
2.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)

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Mermaids, kidnappers, and mercenaries hijack a tropical vacation in this genre-bending sendup of the American honeymoon.

On the grounds of a Caribbean island resort, newlyweds Deb and Chip—our opinionated, skeptical narrator and her cheerful jock husband who's friendly to a fault—meet a marine biologist who says she's sighted mermaids in a coral reef.

As the resort's "parent company" swoops in to corner the market on mythological creatures, the couple joins forces with other adventurous souls, including an ex–Navy SEAL with a love of explosives and a hipster Tokyo VJ, to save said mermaids from the "Venture of Marvels," which wants to turn their reef into a theme park.

Mermaids in Paradise is Lydia Millet's funniest book yet, tempering the sharp satire of her early career with the empathy and subtlety of her more recent novels and short stories. This is an unforgettable, mesmerizing tale, darkly comic on the surface and illuminating in its depths.

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Ceci's thoughts on "Mermaids in Paradise: A Novel"
updated on:12/31/2014

I feel like I was just hit over the head with a bag of nasty meanies. I am a proud, long-standing member of the Ironic-Sarcastic-Negative Thinkers Club. I have no problem with arch commentary. I adore cynicism. I can always find the dark cloud peeking around the rainbow. But it took less than a chapter of Deb’s endless commentary against middle America, the bridal industry, and her own fiancé to wear me out. Trotting out the “satire” label doesn’t fix anything. The book is hardly provocative. A corporation sees mermaids as an opportunity to make money! A government acts ineffectually! Shocking. I only bothered reading to the end to find out what happens to the mermaids, and the unexpected ending is no “aha,” just “whatever.”

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Book Junky's thoughts on "Mermaids in Paradise: A Novel"
updated on:12/29/2014

This books sails likes the breeze off a tropical island… Well, a breeze that ebbs and flows over a ton of snarkiness at first. (Snarkiness that will have you giggling and OMGing and realizing that NO ONE IS SAFE from it!) For the most part though, the book is just a lighthearted and would be perfect to take as a vacation read. Then WHAMO! The ending throws in a twist from left field that makes you go, “Huh?! Well that changes the context of a few things.” And also TOTALLY bumps up the books discussable-ness. But upon reflection, even before you get to the ending twist, there are several discussion topics that this book will help facilitate, like: Our acceptance of the unbelievable. Our acceptance of information from others. How our opinions can change of people as we get to know them. How others can influence us. How far we will go to help another (or species). The angels and devils on our shoulders. Who is “Middle America” and what do they stand for and believe? What group fascinates you like Middle America fascinates Chip? Where do you find happiness? How do your differences with your significant other effect you? And how would those differences effect where you would go on vacation? Okay, those a just a few of the discussable points. Then the whamo twist happens at the end… and there is SO MUCH MORE to discuss, but I won’t spoil it for you. All in all, a nice easy read that will give your book club lots to discuss. I was going to give this book a 3 rating, as it was just kind of there yet fun, but the ending pulled this up to a 4. It is a good ending that will make you think.

Very Unleashable

"Mermaids in Paradise: A Novel"
By Lydia Millet

Average Rating:
Mildly Unleashable
2.50 out of 5 (2 Clubie's ratings)

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