Reading Aridjis’ Sea Monsters is a little like living inside a song. It just tucks you between the notes and you simply exist within the music. Aridjis’ prose are lyrical and melodious, her pacing has a rhythm that slows and quickens in all the right places.
Sea Monsters is not a plot driven book. It’s a character study, but more than that, it’s an experience. You experience with the protagonist, Luisa, a teenager living in 1980s Mexico City. A girl who longs for her life to have a kind of romanticism even though, at her young age, she’s not entirely sure what romanticism is, at least not what it is for her. And so she explores; flirtations, adventure, escape, mysteries, until she ends up in a strange beach town with a strange boy who she thinks may add that missing element to her life.
When absorbed by a truly gorgeous song, you never find yourself forced to imagine notes that aren’t there in order to make the melody work. And while reading Aridjis, you don’t have to fill in any blanks in order to fully visualize the places she takes her characters to. Her descriptions are so rich and vivid you genuinely feel like you’re there.
Sea Monsters is literary fiction and literary fiction has a, perhaps well earned, reputation for being inaccessible. But I don’t think that’s the case here. Anyone who longed for something more as a teen, anyone who felt that angst, will feel a certain familiarity while reading about Luisa. And at a short 205 pages, it’s a quick, at times dream-like, read.
This one is definitely worth your time.