ARCs Book Reviews

ARC Book Review: “The Deep” by Rivers Solomon; with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, & Jonathan Snipes

Thank you to Saga Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review. The Deep by Rivers Solomon; with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, & Jonathan Snipes is set to be published November 5, 2019.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Science Fiction, Historical Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes


ABOUT: The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society—and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award–nominated song “The Deep” from Daveed Diggs’s rap group Clipping.

Yetu holds the memories for her people—water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners—who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one—the historian. This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities—and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past—and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity—and own who they really are.

Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode “We Are In The Future,” The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting.


My Review:
The Deep is a thought-provoking work that embraces the history of pregnant African slave women being thrown overboard slave ships, along with their histories, memories and identities.

Yetu is a powerful but frail character. She serves as the medium, the Historian, to her people who carries the memories of their descendants. This way her people (the wajinru) can live without the pain of their descendants terrible past. After two decades, Yetu is near death by her position that she sees as an unfair burden while others see it as an honor. So she seeks to claim a better life for herself that so few during that time can claim to have achieved.

In her moments of tumultuous pain and grief, it’s impossible not to acknowledge how far we are removed from that particular history that we sometimes cannot fathom the trauma of it all. Yetu, therefore, must carry that history for all wajinru and the reader.

The story is tragically beautiful. No matter the depths within which the wajinru live in order to escape the pain of the past, it still haunts them, finds them in the darkest depths.

At times I found it hard to believe that Yetu’s people couldn’t even muster up an ounce of sympathy for what Yetu goes through in some phantom feeling. I know they have no memory of the past and therefore whatever Yetu says comes across as fantasy and imaginings, but periodically there is a gap in their being that needs to be filled briefly with those memories in order to survive. After the Remembrance, they happily move on with their lives – unlike Yetu.

I love the themes of identity and culture that courses throughout the story. It’s lessons beg to be heard: that history no matter how painful is not something to forget but to embrace and learn from.

After reading this book I am left impassive but moved, sad yet embolden. I ache but wish the story would continue. I am lost in thought. Great story!

One reply on “ARC Book Review: “The Deep” by Rivers Solomon; with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, & Jonathan Snipes”

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