Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. It’s 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.
So, I like mermaids. I like YA. Why wouldn’t I like a book about a mer prince and a stranded daughter of Poseidon? I mean, I love all the Percy Jackson novels. I really liked Between the Sea and Sky. This one, though…it started off kind of rough. Emma’s best (African-American) friend, with a weave and fake nails, is killed by a shark in chapter three. Don’t worry. We promptly forget about her in favor of instant teenage love. And really, I’m kind of willing to forgive it when it comes to paranormal circumstances, and I don’t feel any different here. Emma feels out of place, her best friend just died, she’s feeling really weird about this strange boy who showed up out of nowhere. So she gets some slack from me. However, the alternating points of view from chapter to chapter (Emma’s are in first person, Galen’s are in third), paired with how it’s all written in present tense, is really jarring and took me out of the story so very often. The way it’s written reminds me of some of the better fanfic I’ve read, but I don’t know how much of a compliment that is to a published author, you know? Emma’s mom is also a serious piece of work, and drove me slightly crazy in the beginning of the novel. And (I hate to say this, but it’s true), let me know if Emma’s voice reminds you of another victim of paranormal romance — Bella Swan.
As expected, Chloe is mostly forgotten by the second quarter of the novel, besides the occasional throwaway comment. Galen gives Emma information about the Syrena in bits and pieces, so she doesn’t at first know that she’s slated to marry Galen’s brother, the heir to the throne. I found myself sort of reluctantly liking Toraf, because he reminds me of my BFF, just bouncy and gregarious and enthusiastic. Reading about Emma trying to learn to shift her legs to fins was interesting and sometimes amusing. I liked Rayna more once we got out of the initial quarter too; she’s in a rough spot, marriage- and freedom-wise, so I sort of warmed to her a bit. She’s just struggling in a different way than Galen. Galen. What to say about Galen? He reminds me of Edward Cullen in the same way Emma reminds me of Bella Swan. He’s supposed to be perfect in the looks department, because that’s what we all want, right? Granite/marble statue boyfriends with perfect features, yeah? No. Not really. So the romance held little appeal to me for the first half of the book. I did like learning about the Syrena and the sea, though.
However (and this is a big deal, because I sort of didn’t like this one at first) I started liking Emma and Galen together by the second half. I mean, don’t get me started on Rayna and Toraf and that “resolution” but Galen and Emma are cute. At two-thirds of the way through, we still don’t have many answers about who or what Emma is, and Galen still hasn’t told her what being of Poseidon entails. I started getting impatient at that point. Enough alternating points of view and more backstory! (I might be the only person this earth screaming for MOAR BACKSTORY.) And, boy, do you get your backstory! Also, despite my feelings on Rayna and Toraf, Emma managed to befriend Rayna, the stereotypical mean girl. That’s something worth applauding, in my opinion. In a lot of paranormal YA, the protag has ZERO friends her own gender. Which is fine, but why is that such a common trope?
The ending ties up some thing and leaves others open. This will be a series, so I’m sure we’ll get more Galen and Emma next year sometime. As a romance goes, this one is pretty good. As paranormal YA, it leaves a little to be desired, but it’s a fun, quick read if you love mermaids, like me!