Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021
Hardcover. 320 pages.
This book follows Prince Tal as he embarks upon his coming-of-age tour, which doesn't quite as planned–although what ever does in life? While on tour, Tal runs into a mysterious boy named Athlen who intrigues Tal and also tends to pop up and disappear at random. Things get even more complicated when Tal is kidnapped by pirates, and what follows is a action-packed, fast-paced adventure as the plot progresses.
Tal was an endearing young protagonist whose frustrations at being the youngest and fears of his future are easily relatable to many readers. I appreciated seeing the family dynamic between him, his siblings, and his parents, and I particularly enjoyed all of the teasing he got from his siblings--it made everything feel a bit more fun and authentic. His fears were also understandable and conveyed well–fears about being nothing but a political pawn in his future career, wanting to control his magic, and much more that made him a character it was easy to root for.
Athlen is, of course, the main love interest, and I enjoyed his sort of unpredictable appearances and personality despite the fact that I found a few things about his character a bit too cliche'd for me. Still, I enjoyed his role in this book, and his chemistry with Tal was so sweet and enjoyable to watch grow and develop. I won't say much more about Athlen, though, because I feel that a lot of the details about him lead to too many spoilers.
The atmosphere was also a really enjoyable, lighthearted one that felt so relaxing to read. It's not that there aren't any serious moments or that this book doesn't have its fair share of intense scenes, but the overall vibe is one of comfort and pure adventure. The pacing was also just fast enough to keep the plot constantly moving without becoming overwhelming, and I appreciated Lukens' ability to create some really great scenes.
As cute as this book was, I did find myself wanting just a bit more from it. The characters were fun, but they didn't feel exceptionally well-developed or multi-dimensional, and the world and plot were equally fun, but again, there just wasn't much to it. This definitely felt like it was trying to straddle a line between middle grade and young adult age ranges, which would have been fine if there had been a bit more depth to the characters. There are also a few things mentioned that don't necessarily feel younger YA in content, but because of the way the book is written it feels like it should be younger YA, if that makes sense?
Overall, I've given In Deeper Waters 3.5 stars! This was a really cute and fun read that doesn't get too deep (despite the title) and is easily a fun adventure that feels perfect for the spring/summer months!