Disquietus, April 27, 2014 (view all comments by Disquietus)
After hearing Anna Banks describe her books at the Fierce Reads event, especially Galen, I knew I had to read them. So I immediately bumped them up my to-read list and I am so glad I did. This was the perfect post-Siege and Storm read to heal my heart; funny, cute and romantic.
I love mermaids. I was that kid who insisted on watching The Little Mermaid pretty much every day for months after the VHS came out, and when it re-released in theaters in 1997, I saw it at least half a dozen times. Despite my love for them, this was my first foray into a mermaid book and it was a perfect one. I was immediately hooked by the first paragraph and refused to put it down until I’d devoured every word.
This is not an action-packed book. It’s one of those novels that is really built on the strength of its story, its characters, their relationships to each other and the world building, rather than epic battles and fights for survival. The writing was refreshing. I found myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions, and since I always snort when I start laughing really hard I received multiple LOOKS from my family. While I did find the switch in POV between Emma and Galen distracting at first, I eventually adjusted. Reading from Galen’s POV was a blessing. He’s so awkward at trying to be human and that was definitely a highlight for me. The characters are great. The teens all have authentic voices and are filled with snark and Emma’s mom is just right in her over protectiveness. I enjoyed the detail of the Syrena culture, although I do wish there had been more underwater scenes. Really the only negative thing that I can say about the writing is that if I never hear the phrase “Ohmysweetgoodness” again, it will be too soon.
Naturally there were a few things that bugged me, but none of them were big enough to retract from my immense love for everything else. Like Emma, the woman in me was immensely offended at Rayna being mated to Toraf without her knowledge or consent…but then I reminded myself that they are a different species with different customs and it’s pretty obvious that the two are completely in love with each other so I let it go. I also did not like that it took so long for Galen to fess up to Emma about the truth, or the fact that he treats her like property at times.
I loved the characters. Emma is one of my new ultimate favorite protagonists. She’s no-nonsense, has a temper, is a smart-ass, and is definitely gullible and frustrating at times but she’s also incredibly brave and lovable. She gets hit with some major stuff, essentially having her entire world turned upside down in just a few short months, starting with a shark attack that kills someone close to her, but she still manages to keep herself together and stand up for herself and her beliefs. I do feel like the shark attack is glossed over and her reaction to losing the person isn’t as realistic as it could be, but I’m sure having Galen around to distract her played a big part in why she wasn’t overtaken by grief.
Galen. Excuse me while I key-smash. AKJKLFASDFYEDCOABDF! Okay. Now that I have that out of my system. I fell in love with him almost instantly. It’s not even just that he’s hotness personified. He’s just such an incredible character. He’s sweet, loyal, determined, brave, loving, stubborn, awkward, oblivious, and just so real. It would have been so easy to portray him as the clichéd , egotistical, I am prince here me roar and boss your life around, alpha-male kind of character but Banks avoids that and instead created this complex and beautiful man-boy. Yes, he has moments that make you want to tear your hair out, he can be possessive and domineering and a know-it-all, but those moments flesh out his character rather than dominate it.
And the romance between Galen and Emma? SWOONY SWOON SWOON. I have a lot of feelings about it. This is not one of those romances where the couple is obviously EPICLY DESTINED SOUL MATES that are instantly in love the minute they awkardly (and adorably) collide into each otehr. Yes, they obviously have some rare connection that is vaguely mentioned, but I didn’t feel like it was ever fully developed or played upon. Rather we get some delicious tension and the slow-burn of Emma and Galen getting to know and understand each other and fall in love based on that. The romantic tension is just. Gush. I love it and them. If anyone deserves a happily ever after, it’s these two.
The supporting cast is also amazing. Rayna is another favorite female character for me, and I would love to see something from her POV at some point. She’s fierce and hilarious and I just want to hug her at times. Toraf is also great, even when he’s being pushy. I would read an entire series about these two alone tbh.
This was such an enjoyable read. So go pick it up. Now. Go.
Leah Hubert, August 26, 2012 (view all comments by Leah Hubert)
This book is truly amazing. I loved all of it. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. I was truly impressed by the originality of the plot and characters. Although it ended off with THE BIGGEST CLIFFHANGER!!! OMG when will the second book be released?!?!?!
You and I would call them mermaids/mermen just don't let Galen hear you. He hates the 'M' word. To him they're Syrena.
Emma is you'r average run of the mill clumsy girl, or is she? Emma is on vacation in Florida with her best friend, Chloe, when she bumps right into (literally) the uber hot Galen. They feel a connection right away. Shortly after their little run in the unthinkable happens, Chloe is attacked by a shark. That's when Emma finds out she exhibits some not so human qualities, she can not only talk to the shark but it understand her as well!
This was such a hilarious story. I was laughing throughout the book. The characters were so funny.
Emma: I liked her, but her clumsiness made me unable to not like her
Galen: hot, funny, sarcastic, caring, totally swoon-worthy, an being a prince doesn't hurt ;)
I liked the relationship between Emma and Galen, they were so funny together with their arguing and bickering.
Rayna: Galen's twin sister, Toraf's 'mate' (wife) stubborn, she acted like a spoiled brat but it's only the first book in the series, you can't count her out just yet!
Toraf: he was funny, and sweet
The cover is beautiful. And the ending?! Ohmysweetgoodness! Such a cliffhanger ending, it makes me want to read the next book for sure!
Thank you to Feiwel & Friends and NetGalley for this copy.
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"For a sweet mermaid romance, Emma McIntosh's story starts out rough. Her father has recently died of cancer, and her best friend is mauled to death by a shark in the opening scene. Baggage enough for any 18-year-old, but then the hot guy who witnessed the carnage at the beach shows up in Emma's world history class. Galen is gorgeous, seems to have money to burn, and is completely focused on Emma. He claims to know Emma's 'secret' — one she doesn't even know she has. He also has a sister with a big mouth, whose willingness to wade into any fray soon pushes Emma into awareness that her love-hate feelings for the ocean are more than just a consequence of her friend's death. Banks's first novel has some beginner's bumps, notably the lack of a self-contained plot, but also a great deal of charm. The mix of first-person and third-person present-tense narration is not seamless, though it imparts immediacy and warmth. Much background is given and few questions are answered, but Emma's emotions propel the narrative. Ages 13 — up. Agent: Lucy Carson, the Friedrich Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Its while Emma is on vacation at the beach that she meets Galen. Although their connection is immediate and powerful, Galen's not fully convinced that Emma's the one he's been looking for. That is, until a deadly encounter with a shark proves that Emma and her Gift may be the only thing that can save his kingdom. He needs her help--no matter what the risk.
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