Mermaids in Paradise

Mermaids in Paradise

3.3 3
by Lydia Millet

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - René Steinke
It's a bold move to make mermaids the center of a grown-up story, even in a novel as hilariously funny as this one. But Lydia Millet's novels raise the bar for boldness. Through the window of the unlikeliest events or plot twists, she poses the questions many contemporary writers shy away from, or simply skirt…Millet's writing—witty, colorful, sometimes poetic—is, line by line, a joy to read, and her storytelling is immensely compelling. But there's always an equally compelling philosophical discussion humming beneath everything. In Mermaids in Paradise that discussion is about the different ways people see the world, and how perceptions form belief…In her most original way, Millet dares us to examine how we ever know when to be "hard core," or when it's safe to let down our guard. It's a testament to her novel's power that these mermaids retain their mystery, and that the ending of Mermaids in Paradise is one of the most luminous and unsettling in recent fiction.
Publishers Weekly
★ 08/11/2014
Absurdity and paranoia permeate the latest novel from Millet (Pulitzer Prize finalist for Love in Infant Monkeys). The book follows a newlywed couple on their honeymoon at a resort in the Caribbean. Deb and Chip embody the modern American dream: they float above life, buoyed by career success, good looks, and booze. A couple of days into their vacation, a marine biologist, Nancy, disrupts their getaway when she chances upon a group of mermaids in the resort’s coral reef. After dispelling initial doubts, Nancy insists that the small crew that found the “mer” (politically correct nomenclature is key) proceeds with caution. She fears that if the information is leaked, hoards of reporters will descend on the island, endangering the mermaids and their reef home. Panic ensues when Nancy dies the following day in a suspicious drowning incident, and soon after media teams and soldiers flood the island. The original snorkel crew (Deb, Chip, a Freudian scholar, a Japanese VJ, a jaded academic) brainstorms how to save the mythical creatures—namely with videos, social media, and celebrity connections. In an era of uncharted connectivity, Millet comically deflates clear-cut distinctions between truth, fiction, and moral high ground. With equal parts calculated wryness and pleading earnestness, she delivers a thrilling piece of fabulist fiction. (Nov.)
Karen Russell
“I laughed so hard all over town…leave it to Lydia Millet to capsize her human characters in aquamarine waters and upstage their honeymoon with mermaids. I am awed to know there's a mind like Millet's out there—she's a writer without limits, always surprising, always hilarious.”
Jenny Offill
“Mermaids in Paradise makes brilliant comedy out of a honeymoon trip that veers from the absurd to the sublime and back again. Lydia Millet is a stone-cold genius.”
Jane Ciabattari -
“A hilarious genre-bender that strikes some serious chords.”
Natalie Beach - O Magazine
“Suspenseful, philosophical, and tropical—the funniest you’ll ever read on ecotourism and the wisest you’ll ever read on mermaids.”
Melissa Maerz - Entertainment Weekly
“[A] deft satire… Millet ramps up the suspense.”
Moira Hodgson - Wall Street Journal
“Millet, with her keen sense of the absurd, brings the book to a surprising conclusion, and makes a point about corporate greed and the destruction of the environment without being heavy-handed.”
Laura Miller - Salon
“A romp with sharp teeth… a slapstick variation on Millet’s abiding theme: the relationship between human beings and the natural world.”
Charles Finch - Chicago Tribune
“Now that David Foster Wallace is gone, I think Lydia Millet is the American writer with the funniest, wisest grasp on how we fool ourselves… she has as good a chance as anyone to write the novel that defines our time.”
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-07-21
A Caribbean honeymoon turns into a media circus over a mermaid sighting in this laser-focused satire from Millet (Magnificence, 2012, etc.). Deborah, the narrator of Millet's smart and funny novel, her ninth, is an LA woman who's snarky to the core: She's skeptical of her fiance's hard-core workout regimen, of the rituals of bachelorette parties, even of her best friend's own snark. So when her new husband, Chip, proposes a honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands, she's suspicious of tourism's virtues. Deb's early interactions seem to justify her defensiveness: One man gets the wrong idea when she accidentally brushes her foot against his leg over drinks: "He made me feel like my toes were prostitutes," she tells her husband. "Like my toes, Chip, were dolled up in Frederick's of Hollywood." The comic, unbelieving tone Millet gives Deb helps sell what happens next: Roped into a scuba dive by an aquatic researcher, she and a small group spot a bunch of mermaids at a nearby reef. Despite the group's efforts to keep the discovery hidden, the resort gets the news and rushes to capitalize on it, while Deb and her cohorts are eager to preserve the sole example of unadulterated wonder the 21st century has offered them. The novel has the shape and pace of a thriller—Deb is held by corporate goons, the researcher goes mysteriously missing, paramilitary men are called in—and it thrives on Deb's witty, wise narration. Millet means to criticize a rapacious culture that wants to simplify and categorize everything, from the resort profiteers to churchy types who see the mermaids as symbols of godlessness. The ending underscores the consequences of such blinkered mindsets without losing its essential comedy. An admirable example of a funny novel with a serious message that works swimmingly. Dive in.

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Lydia Millet is the author of the novels Sweet Lamb of Heaven, Mermaids in Paradise, Ghost Lights (a New York Times Notable Book), Magnificence (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize) and other books. Her story collectionLove in Infant Monkeys was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona.

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Mermaids in Paradise: A Novel 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
AudioBook Review: Stars:  Overall  3 Narration 4 Story 2  When you read “genre bending fiction’ you have to enter with few expectations: I was completely prepared for Lydia Millet to blow me  away with something new and different.  While there was a promising start as the love between Deb and Chip is being displayed: Deb is snarky, almost to a fault and Chip is a bit more than just the typical dumb jock. But neither is particularly compelling, even as the early part of the story is meant to introduce  them and get the reader caring.  Then we have the first twist, scuba diving they come to see Mermaids. So a bit of fantasy overlaid with an often intrusive ‘message’ about saving the oceans.  Each character is more caricature, a bit “too” much: Deb’s snark is over the top – about everything. That is her  one trait. Chip – well the best I can give him is “Hush, baby”.  One of those arm-candy boys that you just want to look at: when they  speak, everyone says “hush baby”.  That he is affable and cheerful is wonderful, but no reactions to Deb’s unending kvetch just felt like he didn’t bother to listen, or care.  The wrap-up was wholly ridiculous in introduction, premise and construct. I applaud the author’s desire to do ‘something different’, However: with 3 such disparate genres that all switched tone and increased in ridiculousness with each inclusion, it just did not work for me. I didn’t feel tension or fear in the mystery-thriller aspects, with villains that were bound to be on highlight reels of how not to be  a thug.   Plotting was too thin, characters were clichéd and stereotyped without more than one or two characteristics, and the switches between genres were jarring and ultimately sloppy.  Narration in this story was provided by Cassandra Carr, and she did everything I would look for: unique voices, tone and pacing for  each character, clearly distinctive voices for both Deb and Chip, and overall her performance was the standout for me.   While the concept was wonderful, the repetition, flat characters and a story that seemed to take chances but rarely did they pay off.  I received a cd production of the title from the publisher via AudioBook Jukebox. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NOT Worth $14,it was kinda slow too. Sorry O \ I / I / \