Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Review: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Published by: Random House
(Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher!)
Release Date: June 12, 2012

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.

Ten Likes/Dislikes

1. (+) Calder, the protagonist - Calder was the cocky / arrogant YA guy who knew he was good-looking and used that to his advantage, but I think that with the situation Anne Greenwood Brown has set up, you can't help but root for him. He wants to be the better merman, doesn't want to follow his sister's orders for revenge. He pulls back and becomes more compassionate, or at least more kind, when he is with Lily. And it's easy to see why he's motivated to be a part of this plan in the first place. With a reason like that, it makes it harder to fault him for being the way he is.
2. (+) World-building - I loved all the details about being a merman - the transformation, how it hurt, how Ms. Brown showed us every detail of what they looked like as merpeople to how it felt; the migration patterns and the family connections; the positive emotions and the merpeople's needs to feed on humans; reinvigoration and how you could make a mermaid.  I loved the setting too - by Lake Superior - and all the details of an East Coast summer, which I've never experienced except through this book.
3. (+/-) Romance - Paranormal romance, in general, is really hard to sell for me because while I felt for Calder and rooted for him, I could never find him attractive and do not understand why Lily did. She suspects him of stalking her, outright accuses him of it, but still hangs out with him as if that's normal. I just couldn't understand that.  Otherwise, I liked Lily, her devotion to poetry, her good relationship with her family, the way she doesn't quite let Calder get away with everything, and her compassion and selflessness. I'm glad that the second book will be told in her perspective so we will get to know more about her.
4. (+) Risks - For what it's worth, I appreciate the fact that the author was willing to take risks regarding Calder. He nearly kills an old woman and sees people not for who they are but the positive emotions that he wants to have.
5. (+) Plot Twists - I didn't see them coming / kept thinking that something else would happen due to heavy-handed foreshadowing, but it didn't happen, and I was glad that the author still surprised me with some world and character building details.
6. (+/-) Calder's sisters - While I like that we got to see the villains of this story from the perspective of someone who didn't fully see them that way, I still think Calder's sisters could have been developed a bit more. You're constantly reminded of the dangers they pose, and you learn about their individual... talents, shall we say, but they were a bit unreal to me. If we had more reason to believe in their mother (and if those Indian myths are true about their origin), then I think it might be easier to picture them.
7. (--) Side Characters - Besides Calder, Lily, and Calder's sisters, there aren't really other characters you can feel much for. If you don't feel anything for them and/or don't get wrapped up in the world-building, then there's not much left.
8. (+) The Writing - Pretty easy to read, even when Calder's descriptions of  positive emotions gets to be a little creepy.
9. (+) Pacing - Although the beginning was a bit slow (for a paranormal romance, Calder and Lily's first meeting wasn't really a meeting so much as Calder stalking Lily), the rest was pretty well paced, building up to the climax.
10. (+) The Cover - I like this cover and how you immediately know that this is a mermaid novel... although the girl looks a little funny... as if she has no breasts? It's kind of an unnatural position.

A fresh take on mermaid mythology.

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