This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I just closed the cover on this incredible book and huge one word adjectives with lots of exclamation points are all that come to mind when I contemplate my reaction. I’ll try to pull myself together enough to give you some coherent review thoughts. Now it’s possible that this book is just one of those right book at the right time things, but I don’t think so. I think this is the real fab-solutely deal. Normally there are certain tropes in Young Adult fiction that just dance on my last exposed nerve and it’s a rare thing to find a book in the age level that avoids most of them let alone all of them. But. this. one. did. Because of this, I was enthralled from the first page until I shut the last with tears still in my eyes and a huge stretchy smile on my face.
Just before island girl and virtual orphan Yara’s eighteenth birthday, incredible things start to happen to her that show her there is more to the world that she has ever known, there is more to her life than she could imagine and things will never be the same for her. Instead of a regular girl in an ordinary life, she is now coveted by strong, monstrous beings that the human race imagines in myths, legends and fairytales, but never in reality. When a strong hurricane blows up, a strange attractive young man comes and offers to save Yara. She accepts and next thing she knows she has scales, fins, a tail and can breathe underwater. She is told that she is now of the merpeople and that she must learn to adjust.
Treygan is aloof and has his eyes set firmly on the goal. Yara is a big part of his plans and he has very little time to prepare her for her part in saving his whole race on the appointed hour. At first he has little tolerance for Yara’s adjustment period, but then that cold hard wall he put around his heart and feelings starts to show bigger and bigger cracks the longer he is around Yara. Not that he has much time to develop those scary and unwanted feelings before fending off those with their own agendas from the other races. He must win Yara over to his way of thinking, but the task seems daunting knowing that his own half-brother has her affections and has gotten in before him.
I’m going to stop there with my summary. I’m well aware that I was being vague about things, but it’s such a great story to experience first hand with no hints going in that I don’t want to spoil that impression for someone else.
Now what is so awesome about this book?
The first thing that hit me was the world-building. Ms. Hooper blew me away with her lore that played to several Greek mythological beings and gods. I loved the introduction to each races features and the shared problem confronting them all that they each have separate solutions too. Not to worry, it wasn’t just all dumped out in piles. The information and backdrop were established gradually and organically as the story progressed so the pace didn’t come to a grinding crawl.
Then there were the many complex and fascinating characters. I enjoyed meeting them all both the dark, the light and those that had some of both in them. The backstories were great as they slowly unraveled and the interactions between them all were so interesting. I was so glad the story switched to each main character’s perspectives.
The plot was a great piece of writing with its depths of intrigue and the changes in tone and pace that almost told the story as well as the words. I loved the feeling of mystery, fear and awe I felt right along with Yara as she made her discoveries and built her knowledge and skill throughout the book. I don’t think there were many scenes that didn’t involve some new twist in the present story or secret from Yara’s past being revealed. It certainly heightened the expectant feeling for me.
The creme de la creme however was that doomed and forbidden tragic love story that unfolded. Now granted, the love came on fast and strong, but hey, its fiction. But even so… it was believable and later in the story when secrets are revealed and Yara learns more of the truth, the speed of the romance makes more sense. I cried twice over the lovers’ sad non-future and that they only had days and their very distinct natures and the need for secrecy would only allow a limited physical relationship. That grand finale scene in the catacombs tore up my heart bad. I was never so glad than to check and realize that we had more than enough pages left for a comeback miracle. Yeah, I thought this was probably one of the best YA romances that I’ve read.
As usual when I review a YA, let me say that this one would be appropriate for even the youngest teens as it is mild in the language, sex and violent content.
So, to wrap it all up, this book was fantastic and those who love YA fantasy or paranormal romance or just selkies and merfolk, you should snatch this one up.
My thanks to Net Galley for providing the book for review purposes.