The water makes her feel better.
Kat Leyh’s Thirsty Mermaids is a debauchery filled tale about Mermaids who cast a spell to turn them human so they may partake in the drinking pastime. Of course, the intent is to return to the sea the next morning, but it seems our mermaids went into this plan just a bit too eagerly. Complete with hangovers galore, the next morning is a nightmare as the three mermaids realize they do not know how to reverse the spell and return to the sea.
I have pretty mixed feelings about Thirsty Mermaids. I was, of course, intrigued by the premise. But I’ll admit I really didn’t care for the idea of mermaids obsessed with drinking. And while the overall themes of the plot, that of found family and taking care of each other, were brilliant, I didn’t love the graphic novel.
There’s no question to the fact that the connection between the three main characters is the heart of this story. And that, in my opinion, was the only worthwhile thing about it. And yes, I say three main characters in spite of the fact that there are technically four. But, honestly, the mermaids are really the only characters who actually matter.
Okay, I have to say it; the opening of this book is pretty terrible. I literally could not care less about the motivations of these characters. And they’re not even introduced to us in a particularly enticing way. We meet the mermaids, find out about their desire to get inordinately trashed, and soon witness their transformation into humans so they can find alcohol.
And that’s the beginning. Of course, they have a few other experiences as well. Namely there’s a nudity moment, theft of clothing, a fight with a drunkard, and some more theft this time via stolen debit card. But, you get the gist.
The next morning, they wake up with a massive hangover. Worse yet, the mermaids realize they have no knowledge of how to turn themselves back. Out of sheer dumb luck, they run into the bartender from the night before. This crazy compassionate lady takes them in and feeds them.
So, what follows basically encompasses the mermaids figuring out how to survive on land. There are a lot of ridiculous moments. Many of these involve Pearl and Tooth, easily the most carefree of the three. I found them both thoroughly annoying throughout most of the novel. With uncertainty looming over them regarding when they’ll return to their natural forms, Pearl and Tooth have to find jobs to support them in the meantime. Eez is tasked with figuring out how to get her magic back and return them to the ocean.
While Pearl and Tooth galvanize all around the town, Eez slowly falls into depression over their circumstances. Unable to fix her magic and feeling what could be compared to body dysmorphia, it’s safe to say that life on land is toughest on her. And it is this plot alone that I loved about the story. Eez’s struggles and the subsequent support she receives from her pod is executed brilliantly.
In terms of a commentary on found family and support systems, Thirsty Mermaids gets an A+ from me. While I didn’t always care for her pod, I loved Eez as a character. And in the genuine moments of true connection, I loved how she interacted with Tooth and Pearl.
But, That Was All I Liked
Honestly, I kind of hated everything else. I didn’t care about their drinking exploits. I didn’t care for their thievery. The comedy was horrendous, centering mainly around laughing at the poor incompetent mermaids. The plot, minus the commentary Eez allowed for, was boring as hell. And I just didn’t care.
Several pop culture references about mermaids were peppered throughout the story. Obviously a few of them garnered a nostalgic response from me. I mean, I loved The Thirteenth Year as a child. It pokes fun at the kisses to break a curse theory. There’s a reference to Splash, which I couldn’t help laughing at. But none of that is anything to write home about. It’s just…there. And it has no real impact on the story.
Then There’s the Artwork
I hate to say it, but I couldn’t bring myself to like the artwork. Sure, I’m really excited that the characters were of varying body types. But was the creepiness necessary? Was the excessive nudity necessary? Perhaps this is something others will appreciate about the graphic novel, but it bothered me so much. The only character who I liked the design of was the friend whose apartment they lived in and her sister.
The mermaids, on the other hand, were wholly disturbing so often. Despite my complete adoration for Eez as a character, I could barely look at her design-wise. She looked like a half-decomposed body, skeleton-esque and wasting away. Pearl was prone to wearing clothes that did not fit her and stripping down regularly. Tooth was…big and sketchy looking at times, but admittedly I actually don’t have too many issues with the design there.
So, I dunno. I feel like the artist was perfectly capable of drawing non-creepy looking characters that weren’t nude too often. So, the fact that they were kind of creepy and nude fairly often bugged me. It definitely made it hard to connect to the story.
A Final Consensus
So, the opening motivation wasn’t for me. The ridiculous shenanigans of Tooth and Pearl were not something I could appreciate. I didn’t care for the style of artwork. But I do find the found family story to be one of merit. And so while I can say without a doubt that this is not a book I, personally, enjoyed it is at least a good story.
Eez’s struggles, backstory, and relationships are worth telling. And I thoroughly appreciated the way her story, in particular, was told. I think, ultimately, it’s safe to say that this wasn’t for me. But, if my issues with the story are not ones you may have, it’s very possible you may love this.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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