Author: Amalie Howard
Genre: Fantasy, romance
Series? Yes, #1 in The Aquarathi series
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: October 29, 2013
Synopsis from NetGalley: THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE QUEEN
Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright-the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon-until her father’s betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa’s upcoming birthday-the day she comes of age.
Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa’s mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?
I’ll be honest – I had considered DNFing when I first started reading this one. And up to about 20%, I still kept to that. I told myself to just make it to 40%, and then I could legitimately give up, but then I ended up getting sucked in and finishing the whole thing. And I’m really conflicted about this one, but I’ve come to this conclusion: when I put away the writing/editing part of myself, it’s a really good book, and had me in its grip the whole time. But when the inner critic escapes, I swear I rolled my eyes so hard at certain points that I saw my brain tissue. So this review will probably be those two parts of myself fighting for dominance: reader vs. critic. Who will win??
So there are three that I’ll address in this section – no, wait, four. Four characters: Nerissa, Speio, Lo, and Jenna. Warning: spoilers in Speio and Lo’s sections.
Nerissa (Riss): I think Riss was the reason I had such a hard time with this book at certain points. Like one way she’s really compassionate and helpful, then the other she’s a huge pain in the ass and I just want to duct tape her mouth shut for 1000 years. Stop whining dammit. After the halfway mark, though, she started to develop as a person and definitely became more likable. I mean, I didn’t want to strangle her quite so much. I think if she had just stuck to one path, I would have handled her better, but she was all over the place and changed emotions in a second. I seriously have whip lash from her moods.
Speio: This bastard. I TRUSTED YOU. I always root for the best friend when it comes to the love triangles (usually), and this time was no different. I had Speio’s back the whole time, and some of my favorite pages were when Speio was around. I guess he tricked me just as much as he tricked Riss. I was completely blindsided by his betrayal, and even though it was for a good(ish) reason, it still hurt. Jeese, it’s like I was the one who he stabbed in the back rather than Riss. But he was the character that really kept me reading, so I’m allowed to be upset, okay?? But other than his douche-baggery, Speio was amazing. He’s kind, compassionate, wry, funny in a weird way, shy, and strong. A perfect blend of characteristics.
Lo: This was the guy I didn’t trust the whole time (and I had good reason, as revealed at the end of the book). Whenever Riss was with him I thought, “Gurrrl you’re going to get burned so bad you’ll need to go on a three year journey to regain your honor.” Like I said, I had a right to distrust him, but by the end I really believe that Riss and Lo loved each other, so I’m hoping they can reach some sort of reconciliation in the next book. Lo was that mysterious boy with the broken past, and it was done in a way that didn’t feel forced or cheesy. I really did feel bad for him at times, until he totally wrecked everything. Man, I had issues with the boys in this book.
Jenna: I think Jenna is the only one that I really liked 100% through the whole book. She’s a smarty-pants, and kept spouting off random facts (hel-lo soul mate!), and being an all around weird-ish yet very cool person. And she’s so loyal to Riss, no matter how weird things get (and trust me – finding out your best friend is an aquatic/reptilian/mermaid thing from outer space definitely counts as weird). Plus, she’s a huge factor in Riss’s survival at the end of the story. Jenna’s got a level head on her shoulders, and she’s one you’d want at your six no matter what.
Concept: What I really liked was the explanation of Riss’s species: aliens from a water world, rather than straight up mermaids. I’m still not sure what they exactly look like, but I pictured something more like a Hippocampus rather than Ariel in the end. And I also really enjoyed the fact that Riss knew she was queen – it was great to not have to get through the whiny bits of “oh my god I’m destined to be a ruler???” shenanigans. It definitely had a different spin, with Riss having to decide if she wanted to accept the crown or not.
Plot: For the first 25-30%, it was pretty directionless. I kept asking, “Okay, where is this going?” But it finally got on its feet, and while I guessed several plot points, it was still intriguing enough to keep me excited. And it left off at a good (if a bit preachy of an ending) end: enough to keep me interested, but not so much that I’m upset with the cliffhanger.
I had to get over the slightly-cliche method of storytelling, with Riss’s all-too-standard-human-problems. Once I was done with that, then my next problem was the insta-love. At least Howard explained it with a legit biological function of the Aquarathi, so brownie points there! And then there was the problem of “show me, don’t tell me.” I get that my education came along with Jenna’s when Riss finally told her best friend everything, but I wish it had read more like a story and less like a textbook assignment.
Sorry for the extra snark today. Apparently I had a bigger beef with this book than I thought! But… Despite all its faults… I will grudgingly admit that it was an intriguing read that had me sucked in, and I’ll be hunting down the next book when it’s released in 2014.
By the way, the critic won. Talk to me later and maybe the reader will poke her head out and give a less brutal opinion.
My Final Rating:
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And yes, I borrowed that burn joke from Tumblr. Sue me.