Novella Review: Down to a Sunless Sea – Maartens Lourens

12 Comments on Novella Review: Down to a Sunless Sea – Maartens Lourens

Down to a Sunless Sea Maartens Lourens novella review

Title: Down to a Sunless Sea

Author: Maartens Lourens

Genre: Novella-Dystopian

Publication Date: December 3, 2016

Goodreads SynopsisDown to a Sunless Sea is probably the world’s 1st novella written in collaboration with an AI.
In a dystopian London run by sinister aristocracy, Blake is part of a dying breed of creatives. But can he work out what happened last night when he was with Sia before it is too late?
Down to a Sunless Sea is a trippy exploration of a world uncannily familiar. The author used an AI to generate new vocabulary inserted into the story.
Could this be a glimpse into the future?

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I received a copy of Down to a Sunless Sea from Thunderclap Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. Click to see my rating system and review policy.

I read the description of Down to a Sunless Sea by Maartens Lourens and thought “wow this is going to be a unique storyline.” So I decided that this would be the next book I would read.

This novella follows Blake in a dystopian society in London. He can’t seem to remember the night before, but all he can think about is Sia. The only thing he can remember is her name though. Blake goes through loops and hurdles trying to find Sia and ends up in a crazy situation that makes sense to everyone but him. Written with the addition of his AI (artificial intelligence) named Deep Thunder. The AI suggested new vocabulary words. Down to a Sunless Sea explores this other society.

Without further ado, let’s get to the review!

What I Like:

  • Good Idea

The fact that this is written with an AI component is pretty intriguing. That’s what drew me into this novella in the first place. As I read through the novella, I was able to train myself like you would for any foreign language. Like gale means good. Ango means young man; guy. Mirray means girl or woman. And roor means care. So a sentence that says That ango is so gale for that mirrary; he roors so much about her, would translate to That guy is so good for that girl; he cares so much about her. It becomes easy to substitute the words as the story goes on.

  • Details

There are so many details in this short novella. From the description of outside to the grand dining hall, everything is set. It was perfectly painted in my mind how everything looked. I did not have to fill in many of the holes.

  • Writing Style

No matter how confused I was, I was pulled in by Lourens’ writing style. Something about the flow of the words and the details (described in the last point) all made for an intriguing story. Much of the time I had little sense of what was going on, but it didn’t matter because I just wanted to keep reading. Lourens is a fantastic and unique storyteller.

What I Don’t Like:

  • Glossary

For the most part, the glossary did its job. Many of the strange words that are AI generated are listed alphabetically and are defined. But I found myself, on multiple occasions, flipping to the glossary for a word to find that it is not there. It sometimes became confusing not really knowing what was really going on because of the undefined words.


  • Character Names

In the beginning, we meet Blake who is looking for Sia. Then he runs into some people that sell him tickets to a theater show. Once there everyone takes on a new character name. I had to reread many pages before I realized that Blake had become Hemsworth and that was what Lourens referred to him as. It came off as a bit odd being that Blake was Blake and in the same chapter, Blake becomes Hemsworth.

Overall, Down to a Sunless Sea provides insight to a possible future. The idea of including AI generated vocabulary is unique and makes the story even interesting. I mean who doesn’t like head spirating (turning) vocabulary?! However, the weird change of character names really throws the story off for me. I give Down to a Sunless Sea

3.5 star rating

3.5 stars!

Thank you Thunderclap Publishing and Maartens Lourens for the opportunity to read and review Down to a Sunless Sea.

Do you think that one day AI is going to take over the writing world? Let me know in the comments below! And subscribe/follow for updates!

sign off Jenn Bound to Writing



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12 thoughts on “Novella Review: Down to a Sunless Sea – Maartens Lourens

    1. I had a hard time with the language and i was only able to remember some of the words, the rest I had to keep flipping back to the glossary.

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