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Mermaids in Paradise

2.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,815 ratings  ·  602 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published October 27th 2014 by W. W. Norton & Company
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2.78  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,815 ratings  ·  602 reviews

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Maria Kramer
This book started out as a three-star book. It was humorous, and the writing style was witty and engaging. I liked main character Deb's observations on weddings, mud runs and the like.

The mermaids pushed it firmly into two-star territory. The introduction of the fantastical element was abrupt, rather jarring, and not entirely well handled. Main character Deb started getting a bit preachy, a bit less likeable. But the book still had legs - it could still go.

The ending is what made this a one-star
Amanda Mae
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
A very delightful book! Didn't go in the direction I thought it would, initially, but boy did I love the ride just the same. This definitely is genre-bending - it starts out as a kind of beach read/chick lit to introduce the main characters, then goes to a fantasy adventure, and the to almost an underdog heist. The tone very much reminded me of Libba Bray's Beauty Queen - just enough absurdity in a tropical location to keep you on your toes. Deb's husband Chip is a total babe in that nerdy way s ...more

I'm a recovering mermaid obsessive (when other little girls were all about horses, I was a mermaid kid), and it took me a minute to get over the fact that the first quarter of the book was a fast and funny and unexpectedly tender take on love and weddings (the before, during, and after).

The mermaids don't make an appearance till part two: The Honeymoon. Still, it's less about supernaturals than it is about partnership
Laura Ilkiw
Nov 12, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was chock-full of issues for me.In the opening section, describing the lead-up to the wedding seemed irrelevant and unnecessary. The mud run and bachelorette party never paid off, and it felt as if the author had experienced these things in her own life and felt the need to talk about them in a book as a platform for her "witty" commentary.

Once we got to the honeymoon, I found Deb to be a very unreliable narrator. She made blanket statements about other characters who she barely knew
Dec 19, 2014 rated it did not like it
A couple on honeymoon at a Caribbean resort get roped into helping a marine biologist when she discovers mermaids in the coral reefs, setting off a comedic chain of events – not least of which is the apparent death of the biologist by drowning in her bathtub. I am unsure if I was supposed to find this funny or not, which is an indication of the problematic tone of this novel.

It is billed as a satire, and I was sort of expecting something along the lines of Carl Hiaasen. However, the book is way
Great premise (a California couple on their honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands unexpectedly get firsthand proof of mermaids while diving in a coral reef), but an ultimately unsatisfying satire. The characters are straight out of central casting. Narrator Deb’s sarcastic voice is entertaining to start with but quickly becomes clichéd and catty about obese Midwesterners.

Millet clearly has a strong environmental conscience (Save the mermaids and coral reefs!), but any potential message is dilu
Justin Evans
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book is imperfect, but imperfect in utterly fascinating ways. Millet, more than any other author I've come across, is willing to face up to the dilemmas of writing satire within the tradition of realism (or, perhaps, realism in the tradition of satire). As in any satire, some scenes in this book exist only to make an intellectual point, and for laughs. For instance: Deb and Chip stand in for any contemporary, socially consciousness young couple, and Millet could set them up as such in any w ...more
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books, owned
blargh! i was really hoping for some smart fun with this read. it just didn't work for me. while i feel like millet is a clever, interesting person (i mean, this is a cool concept for a novel) it felt like this book was trying too hard to be edgy, or irreverent. instead of being absorbed in the story, i was feeling as though i was reading the effort to be edgy. it was awkward. one character is all about being ironic. the problem here, though, is we are hit in the face with it so many time. in t ...more
Taryn Pierson

I've never started a book recommendation with “Hmm” before, but this book was such a headscratcher, that's the first word (monosyllable?) that comes to mind.

Caustic narrator Deb and her new husband Chip are on their honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands. (That makes Mermaids in Paradise the second book I've read this month set in the V.I., but it couldn't be more different from the first, Land of Love and Drowning.) They're from California and very proud of it. Deb spends most of her time
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deb and Chip are newly married and about to venture to the British Virgin Islands for a well-researched honeymoon. While there, they spot mermaids, experience a kidnapping, and organize a rescue party for said mermaids. Humor is constant throughout. Similar to Carl Hiassen who writes with humor and environmental passion.
Dan Kagan
Apr 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What an utter disappointment. What a terrible twist at the end. What a waste of time. I've read all her books. This was just lacking. I cannot believe she was able to get away with that ending. Does anyone edit anymore?
Dana Stabenow
Feb 04, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too much self-obsessed narrator, too little mermaid.
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
General Thoughts
Lydia Millet is a new author to me this year and has quickly become one of my favorites. I had my qualms going into this book given the low average rating, but in the end I adored it. You have to know going into it that it is satire (seems like that's what a lot of the reviewers didn't quite get), and I thought it was a brilliant satire on our current condition. It touched my heart on many levels.

Ratings (1 to 5)
Writing: 5
Plot: 5
Characters: 4
Emotional impact: 5
Overall rating: 4.7
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always on the lookout for humorous books, I was pleased to receive an electronic ARC for what was purported to be a hilarious new novel by well-regarded author, Lydia Millet. Loosely, the story is about newlyweds honeymooning in the Virgin Islands when genuine mermaids are discovered swimming in the coral reefs. Things quickly get out of hand with a cast of zany characters and situations (alleged murder, kidnappings, commercialism of the resort and its new found tourist attraction, etc.) however ...more
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: november-2014
“This delightful book starts out as almost chick-lit, turns into a fantasy adventure, then leads into an underdog heist. The tone reminds me of Libba Bray’s Beauty Queens, with just enough absurdity in a tropical location to keep you on your toes. Protagonist Deb’s husband, Chip, is a total babe (in a nerdy way) and her BFF, Gina, is the best kind of snarky. A highly entertaining read!”

Amanda Monson, Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA
This novel began so well. The protagonist, Deb, is stunningly funny. Deb’s
Insights into her relationship with her fiancé, Chip, are hysterically funny. And then there’s the honeymoon, where, well, as the title implies, there are Mermaid sightings. This is a work of fiction, and I guess I’m a fan of more realistic fiction. It’s a silly romp of a story. Millet writes well, and Deb maintains her interesting musings. That’s what kept me interested in the novel.
Jan 21, 2016 marked it as couldnt-finish  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I made it partway through the third CD and returned this one to Overdrive. It's just not the book for me at this time. Deb is more grating than my nerves can handle right now. Things that are supposed to be funny are falling flat. I'm just in the wrong mood for ridiculous, over-the-top, privileged, entitled California people having adventures and epiphanies.

Maybe I'll try again another time.
Matthew Salesses
What the hell with these other reviews? This is a good book. Funny, interesting, and delightfully strange.
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The author's attempt to satirize the chick-lit mystery genre emulating the style of Carl Hiassen in his environmental mystery satires is an utter failure. The story has very few moments of humor, the characters are cardboard stereotypes and the plot is pedestrian. It takes a long time to get into the story and many of the elements appear to be recycled from other mysteries. The ending is what one would expect, and yet, it somehow seems to come out of left field because it is not well-connected t ...more
Susan DeFreitas
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are just a few writers who manage to strike a balance between humor and sincerity with such a clear eye on the overwhelming challenges, both personal and ecological, of our times. (Monica Drake is really the only other one who comes to mind.) This book, set in the British Virgin Islands during a honeymoon, comes on lightweight, fluffy, and funny but will leave you reeling with its devastating final pages. Highly recommended.

Sometimes fun is what I want in a book. This medium length novel was complete fun all the way through. It was the September pick of my 2018 challenge to read one book a month from the TBR lists I compile each year. If you have followed my reviews for a while you know that I have loved all four previous novels I have read by Lydia Millet. Mermaids in Paradise was no exception.

The story is hilarious, endearing and satirical, all in one. Deb and Chip have navigated through their families' input o
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As much as I love Goodreads, I rarely look at ratings for a book before I read it. I usually read reviews after I've already read the book because I don't like having other people's opinions in my head while I'm reading a book. In this case, I wish that I looked at the rating before listening to this on OverDrive. It has a rating of less than 3.0. That is rare on Goodreads and now that I've finished the book, I can understand why.

The book is about a couple (mid-to-late twenties I think) getting
Aug 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is an interestingly awful book. I feel like this book was a sort of writing exercise for Millet - an effort to emulate Carl Hiaasen or Elmore Leonard - to produce some sort of wacky crime fiction. That has got to be the case because Millet was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and this book is so nutso-bad.

The book is narrated by Deb who is a self-absorbed, hyper-judgmental woman in her twenties. She is about to get married to Chip. What is noteworthy about Chip is that he has no faults, w
Chrissy Hennessey
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Potts
Jan 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book so much, it has real live Mermaids in it, right? And who doesn't like Mermaids? Since I have never encountered a real life Mermaid, I thought this will be fun to read all about them - who are they, what do they do, do they eat? Have sex? Swim all day? Just what ... Anyway, I digress - I must say this is perhaps one of the very worst books I have read in the last four years. I read about four books a month, mostly fiction, a lot of bios and auto bios, some non-fiction a ...more
Nov 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm an ardent Millet fan, but this one didn't quite work for me. She often starts with a familiar premise--an unexpected inheritance, the discovery of adultery--then turns it into something wholly new and, often, mysteriously beautiful. But here the slapstick beginning,a honeymoon gone wrong,while often hilarious and spot-on in its satire, doesn't deepen until the last pages. For too long it meanders, a belabored mash-up of screwball comedy and thriller. Hard to believe, but Millet gets boring i ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Leah Bayer
Sometimes I am honestly stumped by a book. DO I give it one star or five? Did I love it or hate it? Mermaids in Paradise was a conundrum for me.

So I'll start with what I loved: Deb, our narrator. The narrative is presented in a slight train-of-thought style: not overly postmodern, but just sprinkled with her observations and trailing thoughts. She is clever, snarky, and deliciously human. The first third of the book is really just setting up the characters, since it is Deb narrating the wedding
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let me start with four words: this book was FUN. Popular opinion seems (in my experience at least) to devalue fun in reading, but I've never understood why. After all, why are we doing this whole "reading" thing anyway? I love a good Serious Novel too - I just have 5 very well-deserved stars to Remains of the Day! - but every once in a while a writer figures out how to have fun while writing a great book, and it transcends "just" entertaining into something else.

Look, this book has it all: merm
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Lydia Millet is the PEN Award-winning author of eleven works of literary fiction, including Sweet Lamb of Heaven and Magnificence, which have been New York Times Notable Books and Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalists. She lives in Arizona.
“Called by the sirens and followed by an albatross.” 3 likes
“We were a roiling mass of opinion, most of it mean. Here we sat at civilization’s technological peak, and what we chose to do on that shining pinnacle was hate each other’s guts.” 2 likes
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