There’s nothing technically wrong with this book, and you’ll find I have very little to gripe about beyond my general ambivalence on the subject of boats. ‘Boat fiction’ is just something I have never been into.
I read this as part of the Sapphic book club, and as always, it’s great to read a good action-adventure lgbt genre book, especially on the tailend of the horribleness that was 27 hours (review pending).
This will be super short.
There’s an island. People on this island just so hate mermaids, so, so much. Every year they send out a boat for a month to try and kill as many as possible, but it never really works. Still, they keep doing it.
Meela is on the first all-girls boat being sent out, since the mermaids are all girls too and use sexy hypnosis (?) to drag men in. Great plan that took ages to decide! Problem is, Meela saved and befriended a mermaid when she was a kid, and she has mixed feelings on killing them- especially when her estranged friend Lysi shows up.
General chit chat zone
This book is decades above a lot of the drivel I’ve been reading recently (cough 27 hours cough). The pacing is solid, the book isn’t too long, the characters are clear, the action/descriptions are all solid enough to follow but not over the top.
I still wouldn’t call any of it compelling. It felt like a commercial action fiction book, where nothing to me really stood out as super original or great, even though I enjoyed it. I actually read it in one sitting! Still, I know I won’t be reading it again. It was enough, but no part really stood out as fantastic.
Like I said, I’m not a boat person, so the fact the second half is all boat centric just doesn’t win points. The main drama/drive was just ‘mermaids show up (at night usually) and attack!!’ and that got to a degree repetitive, especially when we were a few days in and aware there was still weeks to go.
To counter this, there was internal drama in the crew- but that fell to one mildly insane girl, Dani. Dani was a bit too simple and over the top of a villain, at points I could get her motivation, but at other points characters just seemed to act without logic or drive, just to keep Meela and the crew on their toes. Dani is just a huge, mostly one dimensional bully who exists to make everyone else miserable, and as the secondary drive of the action (and honestly, more diverse action than mermaid-raid-apalooza), she was a bit disappointing.
Beyond this, the crew was pretty spread out and hard to distinguish. There was a lot of names going around.
It def took Meela a while to get she was gay, and the word is never used… In fact, she only finally realized it at the literal last line, when it’s been clear to reader for a while now. Still, Lysi and her’s relationship is very cute and well done, both as kids and adults, so I could totally buy their friendship and loyalty to each other. There’s a good drive too, where they both hate each other’s sides (humans killing mermaids, mermaids killing humans) but also want to support each other.
I do kind of wish there’d be a stronger lead up to Meela being ‘oh god I’m in love with a mermaid’, ie picking up earlier that she liked girls or at least seemed to super like Lysi- but it was all good.
- Adaro the merking, and a lot of his motives and plotting, seemed a little too basic and generic. Rule the ocean? Really? Okay, I guess…
- Introduction of a mythical beast hidden on the island was also suddenly a step out of the realm of belief for me, which is weird when we’re dealing with mermaids… but also, this book is set in modern times, and they have like, tv and technology. So I could believe mermaids, but magical giant sea serpent seemed a small stretch.
- The first chapter is adult life, then there’s about 8 of backstory. I did like the backstory childhood stuff, but as others have pointed out, it’s a bit of a weird transition (especially when you remember there’s a prologue before it from a different POV, leading to basically three different POVs in a row)
- I didn’t really get why this had to be set in the real world, or even, modern times. It just complicates things a lot in my worldbuilder-loving mind. Do people know about the mermaids? Like, everywhere? If they have tv, surely someone’s brought a dead one over to be filmed. Or studied. If they die to iron bolts, you’d think someone would have developed… iron bullets, or at least a way more effective system than a one-at-a-time loaded crossbow. There’s mentions of relief programs to the island. Do people sending relief, you know, know about the mermaid thing? Literally, how can they NOT? And how does a force of malevolent evil mermaids not call up like, professional army intervention, especially with how long this has been going on.
- Really, I can’t think of one reason this had to be modern day real world, so that sticks out as super weird. Considering they’re on an old fashioned wooden boat with crossbows, I don’t think an icarly mention was that needed.
- Was nice Meela isn’t white, and most people aren’t. Was unclear for a while, but the island is for sure not-white, and that was good to see.