Between The Land And The Sea by Derrolyn Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the blurb:
Marina is a privileged girl who’s had an unusual upbringing. Traveling the world with her scientist father, doted on by her wealthy and glamorous neighbor Evie, Marina’s life seems perfect.
Everything changes in the summer of her sixteenth year when she is sent to live with her Aunt Abby and Cousin Cruz in the lovely seaside town of Aptos, California.
Only a few weeks after arriving, sixteen year-old Marina has nearly drowned twice, enchanted the hottest guy in high school, and discovered a supernatural creature. If she can manage to survive some increasingly dangerous encounters with unpredictable mermaids, she might be able to unlock the mystery of her past and appease the mysterious forces that want something from her...
And maybe even find true love along the way.
When I was approached by the author to read and review her debut novel, I took one look at the blurb and jumped at the chance. Mermaids? Mystery? Heroine in possible peril?
Yeah, I'm reading that.
So, I did and I have to say that I quite liked Ms. Anderson's debut novel, which is also the first in a series.
Marina is not used to being in a school setting, having spent most of her life traveling with her father to the many exotic locations his work takes him. They have a home base in San Francisco, where their neighbor is a former high society model who in time becomes Marina's 'Aunt' and benefactor. When her father is called to Afghanistan, he decides to leave Marina with his sister and her son in Aptos, a small beachside community not far from San Fran.
From there, the story takes off as Marina bonds with her cousin Cruz (who is described as Goth with the appropriate dress and make-up, working on a clothing line and is generally an outcast/freak in the highschool they attend), meets the local surfer boys and girls that hang around them, and after exploring an old ship wreck right on the beach, comes face to face with a mermaid.
As the story progresses, Marina experiences strange dreams in which she's caught underwater, begins to have flashes of the future for the people in her life and starts to feel a weird draw towards the mermaid she's met, aptly named Lorelei.
The plot draws on the myths about mermaids, a bit of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale (which obviously inspired a good chunk of it) and the typical high school atmosphere where anyone who doesn't fit in with the crowd is automatically labeled a freak.
It's got some cliches, of course - the rich 'adoptive' aunt that provides Marina with designer clothes, shoes and purses which incite the envy of her classmates, the good-looking surfer boy who's attracting the blonde, tanned girls yet has only eyes for Marina, as well as the dead mother who is never talked about.
In some instances, I was reminded of that other YA book series - Marina has a bit of the Bella Swan Syndrome, where she thinks that she doesn't need help from anyone and is loath to inconvenience anyone with her problems which in turn actually puts her in quite a bit of danger.
As Marina discovers the secrets in her past, she comes to understand a lot more about her heritage. This in turn puts her in a position to not only find out who she really is, but also to make a sacrifice for the people she's come to care about.
There are a couple of issues that bothered me a bit:
- Lorelei as the mermaid's name? Adria is the mother's name? Marina?
- Young girl does stupid things that put her in danger to find out the truth. Where have we seen this before?
- Marina calls her father who is in Afghanistan on her cell phone fairly early on in the book. No mention is made of the time difference or the fact that he might not be in an area with phone coverage. Later in the book, Marina actually does address that in her narrative when she calls him again. That was inconsistent for me.
Overall, this is a wonderful debut novel. And unlike Twilight, this heroine actually HAS to make a sacrifice to get what she wants.
Well done. I'll be on the lookout for the next installment.
I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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