So I had only lukewarm feelings about the first book in this series, but the mermaids were so evil in this one t...moreOriginally published at yAdult Review.
So I had only lukewarm feelings about the first book in this series, but the mermaids were so evil in this one that I had to try again. This story is narrated by Lily, which I think made the whole story transform from simply paranormal to paranormal romance. Lily reminded me of Bella Swan from New Moon early on with the way her personality basically disappeared because she hadn’t seen Calder for thirty whole days. The difference between Lily and Bella is that Lily is still a little freaked out by Calder, still a little unsure that he won’t hurt her, accidentally or not. Lily is a bad listener though, and she puts herself in danger for stupid reasons. She’s afraid of Calder, but not his murderous sisters, who will kill her if they find out she’s still alive. And then after a brush with death, all she can worry about is being shipped back to Minneapolis, where she won’t be able to see Calder anymore. Seriously, she’s almost killed once again and all she cares about is whether Calder thinks she’s attractive when naked. I found that endlessly frustrating. I just didn’t like being in Lily’s head in the beginning of this book. It was disappointing because she seemed so smart in the first book. I don’t want to say Lily is Too Stupid To Live, but if the shoe fits… I mean, I get it, the water calls to her, but, girl, you need to stay in the house. Read a book. Watch a movie. Get lost on BuzzFeed. Anything but swim! But the girl is weak-willed. She can’t say no. Not to anyone or anything. Sorry to be harsh, but it’s not a lie.
And something else: we’re told Lily and Calder are in love, that they have some connection, but I never really saw that. They don’t seem to have any chemistry at all, actually. Eventually I started hoping Maris would actually kill Lily so we’d all be put out of our misery. I believe I stated this in my review of the first novel too.
One this that is good is Brown’s writing. I was never bored, the plot moved along, and I sort of breezed right through. The story is good, but the narrator was not and the romance was so unbelievable and distracting. I liked Lily so much more when we only saw her through Calder’s eyes.
So I’ve said all of this but by the two-thirds mark, I started enjoying the characters again. The plot moves really fast at that point and Lily is back to being that smart girl I saw in Lies Beneath. I liked it. There’s something to be said for that, changing opinions, because it shows even a little bit of growth in the characters. Plus I read this one in like eight hours. It’s quick. So in the end, I liked it. I just wish it didn’t have such a Twilight feel. I’ll be around for the next one in this series too.(less)
Right off the bat, I was sucked into this one. The way it's written reminds me of 17 & Gone, which is a grea...moreOriginally published at yAdult Review.
Right off the bat, I was sucked into this one. The way it's written reminds me of 17 & Gone, which is a great thing since I loved the latter novel so very much. I'm not sure what to call Drew/Win, because each chapter alternates between his two selves, so I'm going to go with DW. I didn't like Drew/Win every much at the beginning. His father sounded terrible, and it's clear early on that Drew grew up in an abusive environment of some sort. So he's abrasive in personality, but I felt for him because of his past. He grew up kind of sickly and introverted, angry at everyone and everything. I also sensed that DW was going to be a bit of an unreliable narrator, just like Lauren from 17 & Gone, and we all know how much I like that. The mystery starts off right away, though the details are revealed slowly. Charm & Strange is another one of those books that sounds like it's paranormal, but might be something else entirely. You just aren't sure at first. DW is prone to fits of anger and violence, something we find out he inherited from his father, but circumstances lead DW to believe he is a werewolf. There's also a kind of creepy incestual thing happening involving his brother and a female cousin, and later, DW and a female cousin. I wasn't sure what to think about it, honestly.
Eventually you realize that two tales are being woven. The first is the story of Win in boarding school, the second is the story of Drew and the "unthinkable." As I mentioned before, because Drew is an unreliable narrator, you spend the whole book wondering what's true and what's not. I read so closely for the whole book because I didn't want to miss any clues. Plus hearing the story of DW's family was really intriguing. And it's woven in a really great way, where you really feel like you're inside DW's head. You can feel how out of control he is. DW isn't the most likable dude in the room, even on his best day, so sometimes I was annoyed with him while still being unable to put the book down. And when you discover what the "unthinkable" is, it's devastating. And the reason is worse. I'll post the specific trigger warning under a cut at the end of the post.
For all the sorrow this novel holds in its pages, it's also got humor. The pop culture references were subtle, in my opinion, but I really liked it when I recognized one. Especially this one: "Fucking girls, how do they work?" Oh how I laughed. Thank you, Lex Emil and Stephanie Kuehn for that moment.
This book is like 261 pages long. You could read it in a day. And you should. You should go and buy it and read it right now. It's harder to write a review for a novel you love than a novel you hate, isn't it? I'm going to pick this one up in hardcover right away, and you should too.(less)