Mermaid Effect

mermaid effect book covers
Chinese Title人鱼效应
Author黑猫白袜子
GenreAdult, Mature, Romance, Sci-fi, Supernatural Yaoi
Chapters readAll
My Rating4.8 / 5

Summary

Mermaid Effect follows the story of Rand Sievers, an ordinary person unknowingly surrounded by psychopaths. Rand was once kidnapped as a child, and when his brother finally found him years later, he no longer remembered anything.

Then one day, Rand picked up a stranded “fish” from the beach, kept it as a pet, and gave it the name “Munster.” Little did he know that he was actually raising a biological weapon… a real monster.

Review

The novel starts out slow and, dare I say, fluffy. It introduces Rand as naïve and oblivious, just happily raising his ugly little fish. Even when said fish begins exhibiting anomalous behavior, Rand has merely chalked it up for being extremely weird.

Meanwhile, his overprotective brother, Vincent, is secretly engaging in a dubious biological project. Rand has been kept ignorant about it for his safety, but some things are just beyond their control.

When Rand picks up Munster from the beach, he inevitably gets himself signed up to the chaos surrounding Vincent. Mysteries arise and distorted truths unwind, and these are all gonna forcefully unearth the traumas of the past that Rand has forgotten. Like opening Pandora’s box, all hell breaks loose, and never before have I read a danmei novel more hell-like than Mermaid Effect.

I skipped sleeping for several nights just to read this. Like on an adrenaline rush, I couldn’t stop, especially when it got to the exciting parts. Many times, I had the urge to scream out loud with how crazy things were going.

The novel would forcibly configure stomach-churning images in my mind. With vivid descriptions of violence and claustrophobic portrayals of the characters’ struggles, one should have high tolerance for disturbing content in order to fully enjoy this amazing thriller. I didn’t think I could handle extreme gore and cannibalism before, but this novel really forced me to raise my limits

Throughout the story, it asks the question on what it is that truly makes a monster. Some characters seem friendly and kind, but inside, their hearts are full of darkness. And then there are those who you’d think were villains, but underneath all the scary exterior, were actually just misunderstood. This novel then explores the answer to the question by bringing out the worst in its characters, showing how every single one of them is a bit of a monster inside, blurring the lines between “monster” and “human.” In the end, all that remains is the essence of the person, who they truly are in spite of the skins they wear.

Before you decide to read this, please note that this novel contains an insane amount of gore. Sometimes, the gore is even superfluous, solely there to make things more horrifying than they already are. And in scenes that are not even gory, the author just really knows how to tune it up a bit to make it nauseating. Rand’s and Munster’s first French kiss? Oh boy…

Sometimes, I had to pause for a while to just breathe. Then I’d start cursing the author, wishing I could ask them, “Was that even necessary?!”

On the other hand, I honestly think some scenes were best left subtly implied rather than explicitly stated, or better yet, completely rewritten into something different. Especially this part:

Extreme spoiler and trigger warning
Munster was given an “aphrodisiac” and ended up r*ping Rand. The person who gave it to him said he needed Munster to mate and produce a mermaid embryo, so he can use said embryo to “power-up.”

I have a lot of mixed feelings about the r*pe scene, because, terrible it may be, considering Munster’s nature, I had expected it to happen at one point. And since Munster loves Rand so much, it can only ever happen when he has no control over himself. (The author did it right by putting an aphrodisiac in, but how they didn’t follow-up on the embryo sub-plot seemed to have rendered the entire scene as unnecessary shock value.)

I get it if the author wants to avoid turning it into an MPREG story, but the lack of closure on the whole embryo concept reduced a horrible thing such a r*pe as nothing more but a mere plot device. And it made me very uncomfortable.

The pain Rand had to go through now seemed pointlessly cruel, and the fact that it was both their first time when it happened only added up to that. Rand didn’t deserve being further traumatized, nor did Munster want to hurt the person he loved.

How the aftermath was written felt so lacking that I’d rather the scene never happened in the first place…

However, at the same time, though I loathe to admit it, a r*pe scene had to happen in this kind of story. All the characters in this novel were going haywire—their worst selves brought out to the fore. Excluding Munster from it—from being the beast he inherently is—wouldn’t make any sense.

I just wish it weren’t written so graphically, or that the author had at least made up for it later by writing fix-its and do-overs for Rand and Munster. They’ve already suffered so much, why make them suffer more?

But that scene aside, Mermaid Effect is a great story. Comparing it to the similar mermaid thriller, Desharow Merman, it is definitely leagues better. In Desharow Merman, the protagonist, who is a biology genius, turns into a typical case of a Stockholm Syndrome patient in fiction. Whereas, in Mermaid Effect, although Rand is not exactly the smartest, he is no pushover.

Now, to wrap this up, lemme just say one more thing. This might sound unexpected­­­­­—and I never thought I’d say this either—but when I think about it, at its very core, Mermaid Effect is actually a heartwarming story. It’s a story of love and of family, and of healing and second chances.

How Rand develops from staying ignorant to being brave enough to face his past was really commendable. And this was all possible with the help of Munster, who, oddly enough, was at the very bottom of Pandora’s box. Munster gave Rand the push and support he needed to rip off his scars and fix what had been broken.

The novel’s ending was also very well-written, albeit too clear-cut for my taste. If there were extras, it would’ve been perfect. But either way, Mermaid Effect is definitely making it into my list of all-time favorite danmei novels. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and one you’d never forget.

Trivia

I couldn’t find a right place in the review to insert this, so I’ll just add this as a little post-script.

I’ve heard of butterfly effect, placebo effect, pratfall effect, and many others, but it’s my first time hearing of Mermaid Effect. Hence, I did some googling, and it turned out the term was coined from the show, How I Met Your Mother. The mermaid effect theory states:

A man will eventually want to sleep with any woman after a period of time, no matter how initially repugnant. The theory is so-called because sailors (according to Barney) would spend so long at sea that they would eventually come to view manatees as beautiful mermaids.How I Met Your Mother Wiki

After knowing what the title means, I gotta say that it’s quite fitting. Rand Sievers here is a perfect example of someone under the Mermaid Effect. Munster’s appearance evolves several times throughout the story, but no matter how ugly he gets, Rand is still able to accept him. Luckily, his tolerance all pays off when Munster finally evolves into something beautiful.

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