by Anne Greenwood Brown
I hadn't killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that.
So begins the very first good YA mermaid novel I've ever read--and hooray, they're eeeevil, too! After trudging through so many books with insipid mermaids or one that barely qualified as mermaids, it's so great to read a story in which sea creatures have purpose. And deadly intent. And tails. These merpeople aren't drawn to kill people just for sport, but also because they crave the energy they harvested from positive human emotions.
One of the things I find most appealing about the idea of mermaids in literature is that I would love to know what it feels like to swim swiftly and endlessly through deep oceans. What's it like to live under the sea? And if you're part-fish, where does your aquatic side end and your human side begin? That's an aspect I thought was touched on in a very nice way in this book. Migration patterns, animal instinct, the pure physicality of painful transformation, all of these provided an immersive and believable mermaidy experience in a way that I hadn't come across before.
The urge to migrate was irresistible. Far more powerful than the urge to kill. With each rise and fall of the moon, with each turn of the tide, it grew more impossible to ignore.
I also liked the male POV, the push and pull of attraction/repulsion you feel for Calder and his sisters, their need to be near water, and the author's descriptive writing style. I was less engrossed in the human and emotional side of the story, however, including the relationship with perfectly-fine but fairly ordinary Lily, the somewhat flat secondary characters, and the romance. The central mystery/driving plot lines involving a murder in Calder's family and his need to take revenge could have been more streamlined as well--and perhaps the twists and turns hidden a bit better.
I wasn't bothered, however, by a few aspects that will probably drive some readers crazy, including Calder's hunting of his prey, driven by both instinct and human emotion, or something a bit squickier-- (see my GoodReads review for the spoiler)--primarily because I don't think it was handled in an tasteless way, and there is some validity in its origin. Between their cruel, mocking games, careless values, and animal nature, it's not entirely unexpected. I think the author also deserves big credit for the gutsiness in her decision to keep her mercreatures true to themselves, even if it meant that the reader is shocked or turned off by their actions.
It seems that those who have had more scornful reactions to this book are readers who don't seem to read very many mermaid books, so I'd recommend this one specifically for those who love them or those who read a lot of YA paranormal romance. I love the idea of beauty and danger combined in a creature that humans can't seem to resist, so I happened to like this one a lot! And I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes next.
Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars
Release Date: June 2012
This review also appears GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.
She Reads By the Seashore
These photos were snapped at the beach in January, by the way! We found all kinds of sand dollars and pretty shells that afternoon, so it felt like a pretty perfect day to be reading this book.