Review: The Aquaria Chronicles by Melanie Dixon


In the near future, Aqua Marsden, a med school dropout with a fascination for marine biology, is learning how to exist in a city devastated by the effects of bleed—a deadly blue organic substance that suffocates and kills everyone in its reach. When a bad outbreak of the bleed causes Aqua to lose contact with everyone, she must hunt for safety with her new friend, Mark. Out of options, they must discover how to breathe toxic air and find Aquaria, a large marine research facility hidden under the city that could hold the key to humanity’s survival. Aqua may have given up saving humanity through medicine, but perhaps she can discover the cure for bleed and save Aquaria.



The Plot

I liked the story idea. I think it was quite fresh and interesting. I liked how zombies were brought in even though they were seemingly not related to the bleed at all. I thought it was good. I also really liked the plot twist at the end. It turned a seemingly dull and boring book into something that was worth it in the end.

The Setting

Much effort went into describing the surroundings and I enjoyed getting to picture this gorgeous underground aquarium home. It really was spectacular in my mind and I really liked that.


The Odd Plot Distribution

Quite honestly did not know how to title this section.

Okay anyway, I felt like the book was just very lopsided. So obviously the main idea behind the book is the blue bleed and the zombie apocalypse right? But most of the book is just them hanging out in the aquarium home and eating and cleaning fish tanks and it was like the outside world just stopped existing. There was no action at all. Rather it was just like they ate, they worked, they slept, they fell in love. Like what.

I’m sorry but that kind of ‘I did this then I did that’ style of writing was terrible. In fact, End Blyton’s boarding school stories had more action then this.

Very little attention was given to the real problem at hand which was the zombies basically and I just couldn’t understand why. I mean it was a good plot until it turned into a giant sleepover with like four people because God forbid you try to develop any other characters.

Which brings me to my next point.

The Lack Of Supporting Characters

Why were there no other characters?! Literally there was an huge research facility that was supposedly full of people but you hardly heard of them? How did Aqua and Mark not make other friends besides Derek and Joyce?

You would get random mentions of the fact that there might be other people in the facility but besides that, I went through the novel believing that there were like 10 people in the whole place.

The Dialogue

One of the things that I just couldn’t stand in this novel was the way that the characters talked. Let me give you an example of an exchange between Aqua and her best friend Heather.

“Am I ever. At least I don’t have to worry about this year, as I switched my application to marine biology without her knowledge.”

I mean who on earth talks like that in real life to their best friend? Or anyone for that matter?

“Aqua! I heard strange noises. Are you okay?”
“Yes, while you were perambulating away, I was being attacked by a zombie!”

Who on earth, after using a hammer to nearly kill a man, uses the word ‘perambulating’??? Not to mention that Aqua wasn’t in the slightest shaken up about the fact that she killed the guy. Anyone would have been so panicked but no. Aqua is totally calm. So calm in fact that she can use the word ‘perambulating’.

“Well, I’ll teach you, but right now our safety is of paramount importance.”

This was said as they were having bleed rain down on them and they were panicking and trying to get into a room. Who uses the word ‘paramount’ when they are in a panic?

“Aqua? What is it?” Derek asked me with great tenderness. He sat on the edge of my bed.
“My Mum is dead!”
“Oh no! What happened?” he asked.”

It was just very formal, stilted and sounded a lot like how I used to write dialogue when I was doing my primary school English essays.

The Ignorance

Okay so I hate to do this but I got really annoyed at how ignorant the characters were.

“I felt momentarily guilty for not asking about whether the physically challenged were welcome here, but obviously they were, as Joyce grabbed one of Mark’s bags to help him out.”

This was an actual quote from the book. I mean obviously the physically challenged are welcome in the bunk that will save them from the bleed! Are they not human?

“I hadn’t even considered that a disabled person would still be able to swim”

I just felt like there were so many instances in the book where the characters would say something and it would sound so horrible and like they were putting down people which I hated.

“I finished two years ago, in the gifted programme.”

“You mean the retards”

“It appeared that prejudice was alive and well, even in someone disabled. Did it matter if I was a retard? They had a name for everything nowadays. I might have suffered a bit of ADHD when I was younger, but I was doing better now.”

At one point in the book, Aqua tells Mark that she was in the gifted programme in high school. Mark instantly responds by calling her a retard. The book went on to elaborate that by calling her a retard, he meant that just because she had a learning disability, she was a retard.

I have a learning disability. I grew up getting treated differently during exams in school yet I graduated with a single digit ‘O’ Level score. Are you calling me a retard? Are you seriously going to sit there and call me a retard?

Honestly why include a disabled character and a character with a learning disability if you have such an agenda against them and you’re going to spend the whole book hating on them?

I mean some of the things were just mean. Like when Aqua had to share a room with Mark and Joyce told her that she was going to find a room with wheelchair access and that it would have to be on the ground floor. Instead of being grateful, that little twerp gets annoyed that Mark’s every need needs to be thought through and that she isn’t getting a good view from her room.

I’m not even joking. Ugh.

The Dreaded Insta-Love

Honestly, this was worst then insta-love. This wasn’t just insta-love. This was insta-love on steroids!

She meets Mark and instantly she assumes that he is in love with her (he is of course because every guy you meet is instantly infatuated with you. That’s so realistic). Then she meets Derek and she assumes the same thing. Then of course there’s so much premature jealousy coming from Mark towards Derek. UGH. I cringed through every exchange between them.

To put things into perspective for you, Derek takes Aqua out for lunch after about three days of knowing her and instantly they are flirting and he tells her that he wants to snuggle with her. The very next day they go out for lunch again and he kisses her without warning and asks her to be his girlfriend. And she says yes. Gosh I wanted to punch them both.

I have a friend who had a boy ask her to be his girlfriend after like one date and seriously, that is a major major major red flag. It is not cute. It is not endearing. It is creepy af and no sensible girl will ever say yes in real life.


I don’t know. There was so much potential in this book but the execution was just so poor. I really wanted to like this but I was cringing through majority of it and rolling my eyes at the other bits.

The book needs work. That much is obvious. I mean there are so many thing that just outright don’t make sense and the book clearly needs to be fact checked.

I mean this was said by Aqua during a fire drill.

“But then my stomach contracted. What about all the sea creatures? The whales, the dolphins, the fish? What about the electric eels? Was there any plan of evacuation for them? Or would they just all burn?”

She was worried that the fish would burn. Oh gosh.You think a fish could burn? Really? With all that water you worry about the fish burning?

“If there’s really a fire, what happens to the sea creatures?” I asked Stephen.

He pondered. “I don’t think there has ever been a plan. I think most of the tanks are water and air tight. Hopefully we could get a fire under control in time to save them.”

“Well, when this is over, we will have to have a chat with Stephen. These animals are important, and we can’t lose even one of them. Their lives are as valuable as ours,” I said to him.”

Bless her heart that girl is truly stupid.

So yes. It was a good plot but lacked a lot of the very basic things that make a book a book like sense and proper direction and buildup.





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