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In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems...

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko...the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets...

294 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

Vanessa Garden

12 books241 followers
A bookseller and Young Adult author, Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not raving about her favourite reads with customers, or mentally casting actors to play the characters in her next novel, she enjoys hanging out with those she loves most.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 250 reviews
Profile Image for Ada.
86 reviews8 followers
March 7, 2016
Ok so I thought it was a mermaid book at first, I was expecting this…



But it turns out that it's an underwater civilization where everybody is human and apparently none of the women there are able to have children.


Then the King, Marko, and his sister Sasha (I changed her name cause Sasha sounds more like an evil name) come up with the brilliant idea of kidnapping a girl from a beach and they send Marko’s best friend the lead guard and he gets the wrong girl because she was suppose to be 18 years old…

(How he kidnapped her)

Anyway this girl, Miranda, is a 17 year old girl who thinks she kills everybody she loves because her parents had died like the year before in a car crash (which she thought she caused) and her best friend Aiden was lost at sea after a fight with her.

(I felt like she was really calm for being a CAPTIVE lol.)

She tried to run away once and failed miserably, and then they told her that they brought her there as a breeder so she can have the kings babies. She took that information with a little to much ease for my liking. I don’t know about you but I would have been like…




Later on she tried to persuade the king’s best friend help her escape. He told her he wanted to help her but couldn't because he was loyal to his king and best friend. Anyways in the meantime they took her around the city and showed her around…


The end.


(During my time reading the book I imagine Miranda like this…
description )

The only two things that made me want to pull out all off my hair were her feelings and that she wasn't aggressive I was like…
You have been kidnapped…
MAN UP!!!!
And those feelings...


Still a great and very entertaining book tho… I liked it!!!!
Profile Image for Zuleeza.
404 reviews259 followers
November 30, 2014
A copy was provided by Harlequin Australia in exchange for an honest review.


Should've known better, right? To be fair, it wasn't particularly bad, but it was definitely strange and cliché.

The book reminded me a lot of Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (the 'kidnapping to be made a bride for the king' part) and Renegade by J.A. Souders (the 'underwater city surrounded by dark mysteries' part). Sadly, I did not like this book as much as I liked the two aforementioned books.

Captivate doesn't waste time getting to the action. By action, I mean the kidnapping (that sounds so wrong). So, we don't get to know the dynamics of Miranda's relationship with her sister and her grandparents very well. While I appreciate the 'hit the ground rolling' opening, it was hard for me to feel Miranda's desperation to go back home because I wasn't being shown the strength of her family bond. Granted, we were told that Miranda harbours a secret she's been intending to tell her sister, Lauren and she wants to seek her forgiveness, but I think it helps if a brief details of Miranda's relationship with Lauren before their parents died was provided so that the readers can establish an emotional connection with Miranda.

Well, I was hoping for that so, so much because honestly, I did not like Lauren at all, so if only I could learn something good about her, then I could probably empathise more with Miranda and her wish to be back home. Here's Lauren's quote that irritates me so much;

Mum always used to say I had the metabolism of a racehorse-"With the stumpy body of a Shetland pony", Lauren would add with a smirk.


Alright, enough about Lauren.

At first, I found Miranda as easy to like. She is cautious and sceptical of everyone she meets in Marin. She doesn't only say she wants to go home, she takes actions - she tries to remember Marin's layout, she plans her next moves, she gets to the good side of people who might help her escape and praise da lord, she doesn't get attracted to ANY male beings in Marin although they are well, kinda hot.

At first.

***mild spoilers ahead***

Now, please explain me what happened from Chapter Twenty and onwards? If the book was sort of 'yeah, okay, maybe' before that, after this chapter the book just takes a sharp dive into the abyss the of the deepest hell-hole. Like, seriously. The book threw me off so badly, I was even wondering if a different author had wrote this last third of the book.

Miranda suddenly loses her ability to think straight, makes bad decisions after bad decisions. AND SHE LIES. SO.MANY.FREAKING.TIMES.

Also, she suddenly gets attracted to both Marko and to some extent, Robbie. Marko is basically the kidnapper for the first two-third of the book, and honestly, I don't think he's making any significant efforts to make Miranda likes her, so yeah, when in Chapter Twenty, they are throwing the love word all around, I was like 'whaaaaaat'?. Only after that that they are beginning to really warming up to each other. Isn't that bizarre?

Anyway, they were a few things I noticed that make this book a bit ethically questionable.

1. Stockholm Syndrome is an icky subject. And I don't think the book handles this theme really well. Captivate tries to romanticise kidnapping too much and that doesn't sit very well to me. I remember reading Stolen by Lucy Christopher which kinda romanticises kidnapping as well but in the end, it still hammers down the message that kidnapping is wrong. The fact that the whole city agrees to the kidnapping, that is just disturbing, no matter how desperate you are.

2. My inner feminism raged when Miranda was kidnapped (of course) and


4. If it's feasible for Marin to trade everything for pearls, I don't understand why it's not feasible to just offer a girl to come WILLINGLY to Marin for diplomatic or charitable reasons. If the girl doesn't like it, then let her go and offer another girl. I'm sure they can sign an agreement or something to keep the secret. There MUST be a girl who would've enjoy living underwater (someone who hates meat and sunlight and has no family for example) instead of ripping a random girl from her family. Ugh.

5. Fertility dance. I'm not sure if this is ethically questionable. It's just bizarre.

Anyway, there are a still a few unanswered mysteries and the story could be heading towards a darker path in Book 2. So since I got a copy of Impulse as well, I will be reading the sequel soon.
Profile Image for Vanessa Garden.
Author 12 books241 followers
July 6, 2023
It's New Year's Eve, the eve of Captivate's official release date so I thought I'd pop in and wish you all a fantastic New Year with much love, laughter and prosperity!
It has been a long road to publication, but an enjoyable one. Getting Captivate published with my dream publisher, Harlequin Teen Australia, and getting to share Miranda's story with you all is an absolute dream come true.
I hope you enjoy reading Captivate. I love reading reviews and I'd like to thank readers and reviewers in advance for taking the time out to read and/or post your thoughts here on Goodreads.
Have an amazing 2014!!!

Vanessa xoxo
Profile Image for Booknut 101.
849 reviews923 followers
December 29, 2013
'But with each passing moment in these unfamiliar surroundings with all these strange people, and after eating all of these fish meals, I almost started believing that we were actually underwater.

It was impossible, though; completely impossible.'

Prepare to dive into an enthralling tale that will capture your heart and captivate your mind.

Vanessa Garden's Captivate brings to life the YA genre, with a refreshing twist on what's going on in the ocean's mesmerising depths.

With an underwater civilisation, a fight for a crown, and a dangerous attraction, the tale of Miranda Sun is sure to become a fast favourite with readers - introducing them to a world so like our own...lying just beneath the surface.

Will Miranda choose love or duty? Her past...or her future?
Profile Image for Anatea Oroz.
302 reviews517 followers
January 20, 2018
This review is also posted on my blog, Anatea's Bookshelf.

Let's talk about surprising! I must say that I only skimmed through the book description before I started reading it, thinking it is probably some paranormal book with mermaids in it. But this is NOT a paranormal book about mermaids, at least, there are no mermaids in this book, I can't say there won't be any mermaids in the next books in the series. What else is surprising about Captivate, I didn't expect it to be this good, but it was, and I ended up really loving the book!

The story starts when Miranda is kidnapped by Robbie, King Marko's personal guard. Marko is the King of an underwater city called Marin and his citizens are in danger. Miranda is brought there to bare Marko's child and help continue the royal line. While all she tries is escape, a lot of unexpected things happen before she even realizes she is in danger and maybe in love with Marko.

Some things in Captivated were quite predictable but it didn't bother me much. I was so engrossed in the story that I didn't even think about those things. The plot was really great and the worldbuilding was done very nicely. I loved finding out about the city of Marin and the people who lived there.

I loved how determined Miranda was to escape and to return to her family, even after she realized she has feelings for Marko. She was kidnapped, thrown into a world that only exists in dreams, but she stayed strong and focused on her goal. Marko, on the other hand, was a great King. He had a lot of stuff to deal with and he always tried to do what is best for his people. Despite his impulsive character, I really liked him in the end. As far as the romance goes, I think it could be done better, but I still enjoyed it. It wasn't an insta-love, but maybe a little stereotypical?

What got to me the most, is the ending. What a cliffhanger! I honestly couldn't believe the book ended the way it did. I know I will be counting days until the next book comes out.

All in all, Captivate was a great book with an amazing story development. Maybe there are books placed underwater, but Vanessa Garden's writing brings in a fresh breath and just makes you fall in love with its characters and the city of Marin.

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Profile Image for Kirke.
902 reviews46 followers
December 27, 2013
The whole mermaid thing seems to be coming up more and more in books and I have been intrigued by it, but so far the books I've read weren't able to deliver.

After reading Captivate I felt like half of the book was missing, there were so many holes in it and lack of explanation, description and development.

First of all, kidnapping a girl to force her into marriage and conceiving children is never the right idea. Taking the wrong girl, since Miranda is only seventeen and not of age, is completely stupid. Besides she wasn't specially chosen, no, she was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Seriously, Robbie gets the order from Sylvia (Marko's sister) to go to the surface and bring back a woman. That's it. No more details.

The whole reason Miranda is down there, is because nobody can produce children anymore. So here is hoping she doesn't have any fertility problems or she would have been kidnapped for nothing.

The biggest problem I have with the story is how nothing seems logical. Marko is nineteen and king, but his dad got murdered by Marko's older brother when he was still young, like ten years old. So Damir has been in hiding since then and Marko has been king since the murder? Why didn't Damir take the throne back then? Also there is this law of who has an heir first gets to be king. Which means if Damir gets someone pregnant first he would be king?

Another weird thing. Damir has been living in the underworld. Which I first took very literal, since I was still in the believe of them being some kind of mermaids, so there might have been something involved with gods. But no, the underworld just pretty much means the bad side of town. How big is this city that you can't find one guy and throw him in the cellar? It's not like the dude has any special powers or anything, he's just human, like they all are.

Them being regular humans was also kind of disappointing. They all pretty much chose to live down on the bottom of the ocean. Vanessa Garden tries to portray it as some magical place, but honestly I wasn't feeling it. To me it felt more like living under a dome, with a dark sky and surviving on artificial light. It's just a big prison to me.

Also all the people who've chosen to live there are supposed to be very rich or very smart, so to me it seems weird they would go to tactics like kidnapping someone to save their people. Which in fact isn't a solution to their problem. All the other women and girls still wouldn't be able to get children.

This relates to Marko not choosing his own wife. He goes to the surface once a month to trade their pearls for other goods. So the guy has had contacts with humans on the surface, why not try to find a girl who likes him and convince her to come back down with him and start a family. Once again, why the kidnapping?

I've been left with too many questions for me to like the story. There will be a second book, but I won't be reading it. I do believe if Vanessa Garden would have gone deeper into certain areas and characters this could have been a good book. As it is now, I really am not feeling it.
Profile Image for Aussie bookworm.
294 reviews16 followers
September 3, 2016
The Plot
Miranda has a terrible secret, everyone around her dies.

Miranda and her sister go for a midnight swim, her life is changed forever when a stranger drags her into an underwater city.

Miranda is kept Captive and told that the fate of the city is resting on her shoulders, the women of Marin have become barren, and they need someone who is fertile to marry their young handsome King to produce a heir to the throne.

The Romance

A Love Triangle that is so up and down that you have no Idea which team to go for.

Miranda struggles as a captive, as you would expect, but while the handsome King tries to woo her and make her feel comfortable in the underwater city, she is given the Kings most trustworthy and personal best friend as her guard not necessarily to keep her locked up like you would think but to ensure her safety. As they are forced to spend time together Robbie and Miranda become close and develop feelings for each other, Miranda uses this to convince Robbie that he needs to help her escape.

Meanwhile King Marko is a Frustrated, Cranky and brooding (but he has good reason for it since his brother is trying to overthrow him and his people are suffering being unable to have children.)

Marko tries to get to know Miranda without pushing her into a loveless relationship he tries to befriend her and in the process falls in love with her, Miranda has feelings in return but are conflicted because she is being held captive.

For once instead of going tor the moody bad boy I am firmly on Team Robbie, although Marko is only trying to do what is best for his people he has a habit of acting like a child.

The Good
Miranda lives her life in the shadow of her beautiful sister, which makes her very insecure and lacking self confidence, Marko makes Miranda aware that even though she isn’t model thin or stunningly beautiful, she is amazing and beautiful in her own way, this is why he loves her.

Miranda is torn between her life on land and fixing her relationships with her estranged family, and a life in a glittering, beautiful underwater city with a man she is falling in love with.

The Bad
I could not pick a lot of faults with this book, it is amazingly written however a bit more emotional depth concerning Marko would have been great so I could connect better to his Character.

I read this book in nearly one sitting I could not put it down, so Captivate has earned it’s spot on my favourite Shelf.

I have never felt so many emotions in reading a book, the heartbreak of Miranda’s family situation to her kidnapping and the up and down confusing relationship between Marko, Robbie and Miranda, make Captivate a truly memorable original story.

Captivate is from an Amazing Debut Australian Author, I highly recommend it and I cannot wait for the story to continue.

Profile Image for Stacey (Sassy Book Lovers).
577 reviews68 followers
December 11, 2013
I only just finished Captivate a short while ago and everything is still swirling around in my brain. Not sure where to start lol...

Ok, well firstly the cover, well I'm sure we can all agree it's absolutely stunning! The story that lies within matches the cover to a T, which is awesome! This story was a different experience for me, from all the books I've read not alot revolve around the sea, especially an underwater city. An underwater city, could you even imagine it? ^_^

Now to the story.... Miranda was out swimming with her sister, when she found herself being pulled under the water. When she awoke, she was in a strange bed and in a fancy room surrounded with mermaid pictures. She'd been kidnapped and taken to an underwater city called, Marin. Where she was expected to marry the King and bare his child to save the city. This King happens to be a scary, yet very handsome man.

Despite Miranda's circumstances she finds herself developing feelings for this certain King, as feelings started to grow, danger reared it's ugly head and Miranda's life was being threatened. The Kings half-brother, Damir, was determined to do everything he could to overtake the throne. He had spies everywhere, a few lurking through the castle watching their every move.

Robbie, Miranda's captor. He was completely consumed with guilt over what he'd done. He has half fighting to stay true to his King, his best friend. While the other half wishes nothing but to help Miranda escape back home to her family.

The characters are easy to form connections with, I enjoyed being along this adventure with them. With such a gripping storyline, you'll find yourself compelled to come back for more. This is definitely one underwater world worth discovering, I feel there is more to come here, Miranda's story isn't over yet. -_^
Profile Image for chev!.
410 reviews139 followers
May 30, 2022
This book does have an interesting plot, although there is an annoying love triangle :(( WHY CAN'T SHE CHOOSE?
4.5/5 (screaming internally)
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Profile Image for Shaheen.
636 reviews71 followers
December 19, 2013
Captivate is an ambitious novel, and although I saw a lot of potential in the blurb, I have to confess I'm mostly disappointed by it.

Here is the premise of Captivate: Marko is the king of an under-water settlement of humans, and he's usurped his psychotic elder brother Damir's throne. His people can no longer reproduce, a side effect of living underground with no sunlight and other things that humans generally need to survive. His elder sister, and Damir's twin, suggests kidnapping a girl from the surface to be Marko's queen, bringing in fresh blood and allowing him to produce an heir, which will secure his claim to the throne.

All my problems with this novel stem from that basic premise. The Marin to have surprisingly archaic laws given that the first settlers of this underground city were some of the brightest and most progressive minds of their time. It doesn't make sense to me that they would reproduce the kinds of laws that made living underwater so attractive to in the first place. The postulation that Marko needs to produce an heir to keep his throne is ridiculous - although he has deposed his elder brother, it's been well established that basically no one wants the psycho who likes to experiment on his citizens to turn them into merpeople as the King. It also implies that if Drake could find a human and reproduce with her, his claim to the throne would become stronger. It seems like the lawmakers of the Marin really stuffed up on this one.

The second thing that baffles me about this book is the apparent need to kidnap a non-Marin girl and force her to become Queen so that she can produce an heir. Just having Miranda there, and maybe having a baby, doesn't solve the issue: all the other Marin couples will still not be able to reproduce. But even before this inconsistency, there's the very idea that kidnapping a human girl is the best way to go about solving the issue of Marko's heirs. It's mentioned that Marko goes to the surface every month to trade pearls for supplies that his people need (very ill-considered, given that his brother apparently poses a threat) and I can't see why he couldn't also go to the surface to seduce a girl Edward-Cullen-style into living with him as his Queen. I also can't see why they couldn't just steal genetic material from a fertility clinic or similar. Yes it's barbaric and morally wrong, but a community who sees nothing wrong with regularly tossing people to sharks and kidnapping a 16 year old girl can hardly cling to that reasoning. The only explanation given in the book is the requirement of marriage before producing a baby, which is ludicrous anyway considering the baby will be created in a test tube.

So the world-building could be significantly improved on. What about the rest of the book? The characters are predictable and bland, the romances are flat, and there is barely anything that kept my interest.

Miranda is this naive, blundering, self-pitying character that I couldn't like at all, but I did grudgingly admire her determination to escape her imprisonment. She examines her room for weaknesses and hidden exits, puts all her strength into breaking the one vent she sees in her room, and makes many attempts at escaping, which I applauded. However, her motivations for escape seem to hinge on her need to reveal some dark secret to her sister concerning the night of their parents' death. When she does make it back and tell her sister the secret (which wasn't even a secret, it was absolutely anti-climactic), Miranda immediately starts thinking "well that's done, now I want to return to the weird underwater people who kidnapped me and kept me against my will for six weeks and tried to force me to become their Queen so they could harvest my reproductive material". Yeah. She doesn't even think of trying to reconnect and bond with her sister, doesn't resolve to spend more time with her family to appreciate them, in the light of her absence and how close she was to never see them again. Nope. Miranda's raring to go back and spend time with the two boys she's met while she'd been kidnapped.

The romance in the novel is uncomfortably reminiscent of Stockholm Syndrome and I had a hard time believing any of it. Robbie is my favourite character from the book, and when his feelings for Miranda blurred between friendship and something more I was a little excited, but predictably Miranda finds herself falling for Marko as well. Marko is quick to anger and violence, and really quite scary, but yes, let's all fall for him because he's incredibly handsome, and forget the part where he puts his best friend in a shark tank.

So, I didn't much like Captivate: it could have been a lot better. In particular, the world needs a lot more thought behind it, the characters could have been more developed, and the plot more refined. But a lot of other people have liked it, and if you pick it up, I hope you do too :)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.
You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic .
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,213 followers
December 18, 2013
It's been a year since seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun's parents were killed in a terrible car accident, but she's still harbouring a secret guilt that has damaged her relationship with her older, beautiful sister Lauren. That January, when their grandparents take them to the family shack by the beach at Bob's Bay for two weeks of summer holiday, Miranda is finally preparing herself to open up to Lauren when her situation drastically changes, and she disappears while taking a midnight swim.

Miranda is caught by a stranger, dragged underwater and kidnapped. She wakes, days later and still groggy from the drugs that helped transport her, in a very strange place. Completely alone and scared, Miranda is slowly introduced to the mysterious underwater city of Marin, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Lit by glowing crystals, oxygenated by hidden air shafts, Marin's origins are unknown but the founder of the current civilisation, Frano Tollin, a pharmaceutical entrepreneur and explorer, speculated about an ancient civilisation that built it but died out. Now Tollin's descendents rule in his place: Marko, a young and temperamental nineteen-year-old king, and his older sister, Sylvia. But things aren't as glowing and utopian in Marin as they might seem.

Marko's older brother and Sylvia's twin, Damir, is in hiding somewhere in the city. A dark and twisted mind, Damir wants to follow in Frano Tollin's footsteps and experiment on young women in the insane attempt to create a real mermaid. Tollin's nightmarish experiments focussed on cutting women's legs open and sewing them together to form a tail, among other things, and if Damir ruled Marin the nightmares would continue. Marko has been made king in his place, but his rule is tenuous if he cannot secure an heir.

This is Marin's other problem: there are no children. No babies are born. The women who live here are infertile. Barren. And thus Sylvia's selfish plan: to capture a girl from the surface and bring her to the city to marry Marko and have his children. She sends Marko's personal guard, Robbie, to find a girl, and its Miranda who is caught - not Lauren, her beautiful, popular older sister. When Marko learns that Miranda is not even of legal age yet, he's furious, but with the threat of being fed to the sharks, the wedding is still going ahead.

Miranda's fear turns to curiosity, but she never stops planning to escape. When she learns that the one way to the surface is accessed via Marko's suite, she decides that convincing Robbie to let her go is the only means available. But even as she befriends the young guardsman, she begins to get to know Marko and the city of Marin, and fall under its spell.

Captivate combines the old and the new in creating a romantic fantasy story that touches on gothic horror. The premise is interesting, and even though it employs many tropes that aren't original, the character of Miranda and the Garden's writing made it feel fresh. And while it looked like it was going to have a romantic triangle like so many other YA stories ("yawn"), it actually doesn't, which was very pleasing. In fact, the way the characters evolve and grow was one of the things I liked best about Captivate - especially Marko. He's a complex, interesting character who seems at first too obvious and one-dimensional, but who gradually becomes much more interesting and charismatic as the story progresses.

But I should talk about the book's weak points, because it is a bit of a biggie. Stories like this one hinge on the world-building, and if the world-building is shaky then everything that follows feels a bit flimsy. The problem with Captivate is the premise, the point of abducting Miranda in the first place and bringing her to Marin - though Marin itself was a little under-developed for me, especially in regards to how they get air, food and water, not to mention building materials, clothing etc.

The glitch is the infertility premise. A fairly common trope in speculative fiction, it can be a great motivator for action. Unfortunately, it didn't really make sense here. The entire population of Marin consists of two kinds of people: those that were born there (though no one has been born there in eighteen years), and those who are brought there. The cause of the infertility problem, they speculate, is related to being removed from the sun and moon and life cycles in general, though they don't know for sure. Only, if people are continuously - not often, but continuously over time - brought to Marin (rescued from near-drownings, or suicide attempts, mostly), then does it not follow that their population will be refreshed with fertile women? Like Miranda? Miranda was captured and brought against her will, but why not simply invite or rescue a woman instead? They'd done it before. If Miranda was brought to Marin to have babies, then infertility does not happen straight away; therefore plenty of other women in Marin should also be able to have children. It didn't make sense, and so the whole plot was shaky because of it. If it had made more sense, with no holes in it, then it would have been quite powerful because the notion of dying civilisations and places bereft of children will always resonate with us.

The story was strongest in the development of the characters, and the novel's sense of atmosphere. There was a tantalising, uncomfortable tinge of fear to the whole story and setting that I particularly enjoyed; I wouldn't have minded a bit more of it though that might have been too much. It's that shade of menace and dark forbidden things to what is otherwise something of a utopia that really makes the concept work, and adds tension to the plot. You don't know who to trust, or what's really going, and the taint of Frano Tollin's plans and experiments linger. It nicely balances the fantasy and romance elements of the story, giving it maturity and extra layers.

Another strength was Miranda herself. She narrates (and not, thankfully, in present tense, might I add!) and her voice is solid. She's convincing and undergoes a gradual change influenced by her new surroundings and situation. There was chemistry between her and Marko, though it was shadowed by that sense of suspicion, distrust and uncertainty that pervades the story in general, making their relationship that bit more interesting than it might otherwise have been. She has tenacity, and balances adolescent insecurities and selfishness with a growing sense of compassion, empathy and understanding. By the end, I had grown very fond and proud of her and wanted very much to find out what happened next.

Speaking of, the ending was spot-on. In terms of: no cliffhanger, not forgetting the overall abduction plot or the people she'd left behind, and in setting the stage for a real, legitimate relationship with an abductor. In that sense, it was very satisfying, as was seeing just how much Miranda had matured by the end. I wish the world of this underwater city had been more tightly formed and explained, because if the nuts-and-bolts of the story were stronger this would have been excellent all round. As it is, I'm caught up enough in Miranda's story, and curious about what's going on in Marin, to want to read more of this new series.

My thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book.
Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
641 reviews301 followers
December 29, 2013
Miranda Sun had been taken against her will to the underwater city of Marin where she is expected to marry the king and bear his children to help boost the barren population. But Miranda is desperate to get home and make up with her sister after the tragic death of her parents. Meanwhile the king’s brother, the exiled firstborn, is a threat to the city. Will Miranda succumb to the lure of the underwater Marin or will she find her freedom?

I liked Miranda as a character. She had all the angst and over-dramatic tendencies of my favourite Disney princesses. She spent an awful lot of time weeping and sorry for herself but wasn’t afraid to try to take matters into her own hands and made many good attempts to escape. She was in an awful situation, kidnapped and dragged to the bottom of the ocean, and she spent an awful lot of time locked away by herself or being forced against her will to participate, forced to work for this horrible place with the threat of execution over her head. Her one redemption was Marko, the young king of Marin, and I was glad she found a sort of happiness there.

I also liked how Miranda was supposed to be chubby or fat (a far cry for your typical ‘thin and clumsy’ YA heroine), although it was a bit hard to accept this when she referred to her own sister as a Barbie and her sister envied her ‘curves’, and said the only parts of her borrowed clothes that would be stretched out were the boobs and bum. I figured that meant Miranda had curves, but Miranda saw herself as fat and unattractive, which fair nearly broke my heart when someone actually did find her beautiful and she couldn’t believe them.

I really liked how the plot dove right in and within the first chapter we were in Marin with Miranda, trying to figure out how she could possibly escape an escapeless fortress. I felt so sorry for her as the entire population thought she was there willingly to save them and all placed their hopes in her. Miranda wasn’t even seventeen and an absolute prude, so I often felt her own embarrassment when people referred to her having the king’s babies. There was so much pressure on her to do her part to help a kingdom she wasn’t a part of and didn’t want to be a part of. It wasn’t even fair, because Miranda was chosen accidentally and also at random. I feel like Marko, who often visited the surface to trade, could have developed an on-land romance with a girl and convinced her to come underwater and marry him and make lots of babies instead of kidnapping a frightened innocent girl against her will. After all, Marin is going to have to convince a hell of a lot more human girls to procreate to keep the population going, as everyone is barren and Miranda can hardly be expected to boost the entire population.

I felt that the romance was well developed. I personally didn’t like Marko very much, and although I love romances where the heroine and love interest don’t like each other to begin with, I felt that there could have been more redemption from Marko to draw me to like him more. I could admire from afar the beginning of their tenderness, but I always felt that there was supposed to be something going on with Robbie as well. It wasn’t a love triangle, but I felt like it was supposed to be, or at least it was supposed to feel like one, and I didn’t feel it. Miranda was inexperienced and falling for the wrong boy and she never really thought about falling in love with the person who kidnapped her. I also felt that because we were constantly reminded of Marin’s pull and allure that in the end when Miranda did admit her feelings that it was more Stockholm Syndrome, or at least not authentic. I think I would have preferred the romance if it was clearer that she wanted to stay in Marin because of her own feelings and not because of the allure that affected everyone.

I also feel a little disappointed because Marko was your typical foul-tempered, physical, drop-dead gorgeous love interest. It’s really not hard to feel attraction to someone who’s insanely attractive. I felt that Captivate was following the lines of Beauty and the Beast with a young girl needing to fall in love with the royal leader to save the people, but there was no beast! Marko had a foul temper but he was a hunk and a half and I didn’t feel much of a struggle or conflict from Miranda when it came to finding him attractive and leading to her wanting to sleep with him. Sure, he was holding her against her will, but I seriously doubt many teen girls would be able to resist the charms of a doting hottie patottie for long. I think I would have liked this better if Marko wasn’t gorgeous, if Miranda had to see past his unattractive outside to the beauty within. Imagine if Belle had been held at the castle with a handsome prince: I hardly think the last petal would have fallen from the rose if she had been! There was no conflict – it felt assured Miranda would fall for Marko. There was no ‘would she, wouldn’t she?’

There was something about Miranda’s voice and narration that led me to really feel her own helplessness and frustration at her situation. She was both treasured and disposable, locked away for her own safety yet threatened with execution. It would be enough to drive one mad! It also smacked of Gothicness, with the young innocent female being held captive by the older (not by much, though!) male, and I do love Gothic novels. Overall I feel that this was a decent introduction into what will hopefully develop into a next book, and I would rather like to see more of Marko and find out what happens in the future.

Thanks to HarlequinTeen for providing this advanced reader copy for an honest review.
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
September 4, 2016
Our story begins on a midnight swim in Bob’s bay, Australia. Lauren and Miranda are visiting their grandparents and spend every summer at the old holiday shack since they were born. It was the first time in almost a year the sisters spend any real time together or were really speaking to each other since the death of their parents, but before they could clear the air about what really happened on that faithful night, Miranda gets dragged underwater, drugged and taken captive. When she wakes she finds herself in a large bed, in a beautiful room filled with mermaid art, and shockingly discovers she’s under the deep blue sea in an underwater civilization.
Marin city is ruled by the young king, Marko, who is trying to perverse and protect his underwater palace by producing an heir so as to prevent his twisted older brother, Damir from taking over the throne. The only problem is, Marin’s women are barren and no child has been born in eighteen years. So Marko, went along with his sister Sylvia’s, decision to capture a young women from above, make her his queen and bear his child. While this doesn't exactly sit well with Marko, what real choice does he have if he wants to save his diminishing civilization and protect it from his sadistic brother who is obsessed with the idea of cutting up girls legs open and sewing them together to make mermaids tales?

Captivate turned out to be something much different then I originally thought it was. Truth, I thought this was about mermaids, and while it kinda relates to it in a very unusual and nontraditional way, it really isn't a mermaid book after all. But I’m actually glad that this turned out to be something else entirely. The concept is really quite nifty. I liked the idea of a vast civilization deep under the sea, ruled by a firm but kind king and learning about the history and traditions. I also thought it was pretty wicked to have an evil brother who liked to experiment on girls and turn them into mermaids. It’s sick of course, but the conflict and threat was still freaky cool. And even though there is the question between right and wrong regarding Miranda’s captivity, despite her circumstance, like her, I too was mesmerized and curious about this world and couldn't wait to explore more.

Marin is a stunning thriving city complete with built in oxygen vents, trees, plant life and even birds. It’s filled with thousands of people who have either come to the city willingly or been saved as drowning victims.
I really liked Miranda. She’s a feisty little thing that’s full of spunk and fight. Even though everyone seemed to be genuinely kind to her, she never stopped planning her escape. But the more she stayed in Marin, the more intrigued she became and eventually started to have feelings in her new-found friendships and was compelled enough to even want to stay.
Robbie is my favorite character. He was the one who originally took Miranda when she was enjoying her midnight swim with her sister and while he’s really the one to blame, he was just playing the part of the ever loyal guard to his best friend and king and was only doing his duty. His regret and remorse weighed heavily in his eyes and ever gesture. He hates what he had to do and makes sure that Miranda is as comfortable as possible. I liked how understanding, protective and kind he was, and really, he was the only friend Miranda had.
Marko was hard to like at first, but I think it was only because it took so long for Miranda to ‘want’ to get to know him. Understandably of course, but when she finally did we see a side to Marko that I’m sure not even his kingdom sees. He’s an arrogant and overly confident man but can also be playful, tender, sweet and alluring. He makes Miranda feel valued and attractive for the first time in her life. So while the connection may have took awhile to get there, eventually Marko won Miranda’s heart, as it did mine.
I did however have a little issue with how he treated Robbie at one point of the story, but since it worked out in the end, it’s easy to overlook.

All in all, I rather liked this book. The ideas might be a little far fetched for some, but it’s a solid and unique concept with wonderful world building and back story. Vanessa Garden’s writing is absorbing and smart and the characters are beautifully put together, making me feel invested from minute one. There isn't a love triangle, but it’s well on it’s way of becoming one and since I like both guys, it’ll be interesting to see what happens. The ending was satisfying and quite perfect when you’re looking at it from a redeeming angle. But I also know the story doesn't end here and I’m really looking forward to seeing where Miranda’s story will venture next.
Profile Image for Naomi.
1,303 reviews57 followers
January 20, 2014
Captivate was an exciting tale that totally took me by surprise. I was expecting a mermaid tale, but it had a different twist to it. Imagine a city, deep in the ocean, where humans first moved to at their own free will. It was amazing, beautiful and sweet.

Miranda was swimming with her sister when she was taken to this city, Marin. She was basically kidnapped and held against her will. The longer she stayed there though, the more she became to like it, but it came at a price. Her feelings were thrown into jeopardy and in the end she was torn between the family that she left at home and the new friends and family she was forming in Marin.

Miranda, being only 16 has been through a lot of heart ache and when she was bought to Marin and she couldn't believe her luck. She managed to get through each day though and I thought that she became stronger every day. She comes across as quite a strong character and doesn't shy away from telling people what she really thinks. When she breaks down it is usually behind closed doors.

There are two guys that become close to her and have the potential to steal her heart and I found it hard to choose which one I liked the most. Marko, the king of Marin or his best friend and guard, Robbie who was also her kidnapper. I liked both boys and they both harbour feelings for Miranda in their own ways. I enjoyed watching these relationships develop as Miranda was finally able to feel more comfortable and form relationships/friendships with people.

The plot is quite exciting as there is a lot of danger threatening Marko and Miranda; Marko's fugitive brother Damir. He wants to take over Marin and is willing to do anything to get it. It was a very exciting part of the story and Miranda constantly needs to watch her back. I enjoyed Vanessa’s writing style and how descriptive she was of the underwater city and I was mesmerised by the details she put into it. I am looking forward to see what happens next, after that thrilling ending.

I received a copy of this book from Harlequin Australia in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Char ღ Denae.
635 reviews87 followers
March 19, 2014
Oh wow! I really loved this book! So original and consuming! It just grabbed me from the beginning and I couldn't put it down. I finished it in one sitting.

At first, I thought it was going to be a mermaid/merman story but the whole, city-under-the-sea thing was really cool, and I loved the possible-submerged-space-ship angle. The descriptions of the city were perfect, not overdone but just enough to let your imagination take over, and the crystals were a very unique touch.

I felt I could really connect with the characters and understand why they were feeling the way they were. Miranda seemed to feel and do, what I would expect someone to do in her place. I loved Robbie from the beginning, although he was the one to steal Miranda away from her family. He seemed to be a good person who felt split by loyalty and what was right. I really didn't like Marko, at all, and, when he began to redeem himself somewhat, I resisted liking him. He did grow on me, eventually, although I hated his punishment of Robbie. His decision was explained very well, and he showed obvious remorse for what he had to do, but I was still mad at him. I was also a bit conflicted about the outcome of the 'love triangle' (I won't elaborate so as not to spoil the outcome for others). I wasn't quite sure who I wanted Miranda to end up with and I swayed back and forth on my feelings for both guys. To me, this is a sign of a good book. When the reader is so drawn into the story that their feelings are involved, I think the author has definitely done their job.

Even though the ending was a bit of a cliff-hanger, I was satisfied with it and am really looking forward to reading the next book.
Profile Image for Nicki Markus.
Author 63 books276 followers
November 30, 2013
Captivate started slowly and I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it, but about a third in, I suddenly found myself getting more and more drawn into the story and by the halfway mark I was keen to see how it would end.

The book takes a different slant on the mermaid idea, defying expectations right from the word go. The characters are perhaps a little too stereotypically YA at times as I found myself anticipating their every move, having seen a similar thing countless times before, but the plot interest made up for that and created an overall enjoyable read.

The only thing I would say is that I felt the problem facing Marin a little inflated since I could easily think of ways to deal with the issue that didn't involve kidnapping one young girl. I was also confused as to how one girl would solve the long term issues... but I put that aside and tried to just enjoy the adventure.

I might not rush to reread this book, but I would definitely read future books in the series and I can recommend this underwater tale to YA fans of books such as Hush, Hush and Fallen who are looking to leave the skies and take to the seas.

I received this book as a free review copy from the publisher.
Profile Image for Angelique The Gilded Pages.
199 reviews67 followers
January 5, 2015
Um, yes! This book was everything. I couldn't find a single thing that I disliked.

Robbie and Marko? They were so drool worthy, especially Robbie.

I loved the setting, the characters, the action, and the plot. Marin and it's plight were really interesting, and the idea that they "take" girls from the surface really caught my attention.

The ending tore my heart apart for both Marko and Miranda. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book, because this book was so exciting.

This is NOT a mermaid book. I thought it was when I saw the cover and read that there was an underwater city. It was not what I was expecting at all. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by this book.

Now, where is book 2?!
Profile Image for Tamara Martin.
Author 8 books9 followers
January 31, 2014
This was a sensational debut by Vanessa Garden, am very excited to see where she not only takes this story but what else she brings us. This was an incredible, slightly dark, twisted take on an underwater paradise, it takes you to places you don't expect to go but are so glad you went. I loved how bravely she committed to the action scenes, you had to keep turning the pages which your heart in your chest. I think this author is only just finding a groove too which is very exciting for Australian YA.
Profile Image for Saio.
108 reviews
August 24, 2014
I give this a 3.5
After reading so many dark & depressing books lately which I really loved, this book was just a quick read to lighten the mood and I really liked it. I loved the fact that Miranda wasn't the lovey dovey type like most typical female protagonists her attitude and humour made me enjoy the book very much ! And the fact that Marko was super good looking wasn't bad either!
Profile Image for ☆☆Hannah☆☆.
3,048 reviews42 followers
January 2, 2017
I had hoped this was going to be a good book. I had been wanting to read it for awhile. However, this was just not that great. It really needed some kind of action.I felt bored throughout. On top of that I just didn't care too much for the main character. She spent too much time whining. It was really annoying. Needless to say I will not be reading anymore of this trilogy.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
514 reviews15 followers
June 28, 2015
Actual Rating: 1.5 stars

This review first appeared on Thoughts and Pens

Captivate frustrated me so much that I was tempted to give it a zero star rating. Except for the interesting premise, almost everything about it was off. Not to mention that I was angry at myself for not really checking it out. I thought that it’s going to be a mermaid book but it’s not. In actuality, it’s about an underwater kingdom of humans.

My interest was very high during the first 20% of the book and then it dwindled as the story progressed. The main character, Miranda, was average and easily forgettable. I wouldn’t even bat an eyelash if the underwater people decide to drown her or feed her to the sharks. Her indecisiveness was really irritating and halfway through the book, she slowly succumbed to the Stockholm syndrome. As if Miranda wasn’t torture enough, I was introduced to the two male love interests who were 1-D and definitely, not swoon-worthy.

Slow-paced and very dull, the plot didn’t make any efforts to redeem the book in my eyes. It was brimming with holes. A lot of things didn’t make sense at all. As what the synopsis suggest, Captivate tells the story of Miranda getting kidnapped by the underwater people. It was immediately explained that she was taken because she will become the wife of Marko—the King of Marin (the underwater kingdom)—and that she will be the one to produce an heir. Sadly, the female populace of the kingdom was barren and the king has to produce a successor so his fugitive older brother will not usurp the throne. What a flimsy foundation for a story.

First and foremost, Marko visits the mainland once every month to sell pearls. Why does he need to kidnap someone when he can properly court a girl while he’s doing business? I am pretty sure that with his good looks and noble attitude, it would be easy for a girl to fall in love with him and become his queen in Marin. Aside from that, the female populace of the kingdom is barren. Kidnapping someone would definitely not solve the said problem. Why is it that Marko and his minions are not doing something about it? Instead, all their attentions are solely focused on keeping Miranda secure.

To irritate me further, why is Marko really fussed about his older brother, Damir, usurping the throne if he can’t produce an heir? For one, Damir is already considered a fugitive and shouldn’t Marko be planning on how to capture him? Second, I don’t really understand why Damir is still waiting for Marko to produce an heir before usurping the throne when the former could just rally his troops and invade the castle.

As irritating as it may sound, I still held some hope that everything could still be saved. To my severe disappointment, Miranda was captured by Damir in the later part of the book. Marko and his troops came to the rescue and easily overpowered Damir. And Miranda was sent home because the threat to the kingdom was already eliminated. At that point, I was literally shouting “WHAT THE F****?” at myself. Again, why in the heavens did Marko kidnap Miranda when he could have just spent his resources hunting Damir in the first place?

Captivate also contained a plot device that really gave me a headache. As mentioned earlier, Miranda has two love interests. Of course, the first is Marko and the other one is Robbie. The latter is a member of the king’s guard. When Marko caught him and Miranda in a compromising situation, he was thrown inside a gigantic aquarium wherein the pet sharks of the kingdom can devour him to death. But luckily, he lived because a dagger magically appeared in the bottom of the aquarium. While I was reading the book, the death sentence by sharks was mentioned repeatedly and it was never mentioned that the accused would still have a chance to live as long as he can kill the sharks. But when it was time for Robbie to die, presto, the rules changed all of a sudden so that he could live.

Even Captivate’s romance was badly crafted that it has the vibe of instalove. For the most part of the book, Marko and Miranda didn’t have enough page time getting to know each other. It was only at 60% when I saw an actual development in their relationship and heavens, it was really rushed. They were immediately saying “I love you” even if Miranda is still confused about her feelings. Eww. I was cringing the whole time I was following their interactions.

The only redeeming quality of this book was the world building. It may not have wowed me, but it was sufficient to make me imagine what Marin looks like.

I am really sorry if I bored you with this review. But I just can’t stop myself from ranting. Captivate has almost caused me to go on a reading slump. It’s supposed to be my first underwater (not including the Little Mermaid) book and it tremendously flopped. Overall, it’s a story perfect for fans of the Pick-a-Trope game.

***An ARC of this book was freely provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Harlequin TEEN!***
Profile Image for Bree T.
2,132 reviews91 followers
December 12, 2013
Miranda Sun is almost 17 and after twelve months is still grieving the loss of her parents and keeping a dark secret. She has been keeping it from her sister Lauren, too frightened to tell her in case it widens the gap between them even more. Miranda’s grandparents have taken the two sisters to their beach cottage, where they’ve spent every summer, to see if it will heal them a little more and help repair their broken relationship.

One night, when she is out swimming with Lauren and about to confess to her, Miranda is dragged underwater and taken. When she awakes days later she discovers that she is being held captive in an underwater city named Marin and that she has been taken in order to become the bride to the King, Marko. Miranda and Marko will create an heir and provide new hope to the civilisation and also stop the crown from falling into the hands of Marko’s older brother, the sinister Damir.

All Miranda wants to do is get home to her sister and her grandparents. She forms an alliance with Robbie, one of the king’s guard who is charged with watching over her. Miranda is willing to use Robbie’s growing feelings for her in order to manipulate him into taking her back to the surface so that she can go back to her old life. However Robbie is loyal to Marko and although he wants to help Miranda, he just can’t quite bring himself to do it. As the time marches on and the lure of Marin begins to take its toll on her, Miranda gets to know Marko and it makes her wonder if she really wants to leave at all.

Captivate takes deep down into the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and a city enclosed in a dome. Our protagonist is Miranda, a few days off being 17 when she is taken off the coast of Western Australia and transported down one of the tubes that connect Marin with the surface. She is to be betrothed to the King of Marin and her reluctance is not of any concern to basically anyone. Her refusal to become Marko’s wife will lead her to the Colosseum, basically a stadium filled with water….and several very hungry sharks. This is entertainment and justice and punishment and much more in the world of Marin.

The premise for this book is awesome and the cover is beautiful! It seems like a bizarre pardox, a gothic fairtytale where a young woman is ripped away from her family and wakes up in a beautiful underwater city where she is to become its Queen. Her soon to be fiancé is young and handsome with a formidable reputation but yet a softer side and although Miranda and Marko have their difficulties, she does get to see several different sides of him. She also adapts remarkably well to being yanked away from her life and virtually made a prisoner. There are a few nice moments between Miranda and a couple of the characters and her fledgling friendship with Robbie is also rather cute.

However, there’s a lot that feels quite underdeveloped in this novel, starting with the romance. Although Miranda and Marko do have a couple of moments, I’m not sure it’s really enough to make the reader feel like they’re developing a strong connection. Marko is icy with supposed hints of vulnerability and he comes across as being quite a lot older than 19. Miranda doesn’t have a lot of time to learn about him and to witness much of what goes on in his life and their escalation from captor and captive to falling in love tends to feel a bit like dependency, a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if Miranda was going to fall in love with Robbie, her so-nice-it-hurts guard or Marko (who are of course, also as close as brothers). I preferred Marko over Robbie (a lot, the nice guy never gets my vote!) but I do wish he’d been a larger presence in the novel. He kind of strides in and strides out, being very busy and important and the connection between them is only really briefly explored.

I didn’t mind the setting, I thought the city sounded interesting and the reason why they needed to bring Miranda down into the city to marry their King seemed like it could be something really worth exploring. The way in which the book ended really piqued my interest for another installment and I am hoping that I get to see what happens next for Miranda and Marko and if they ever do get the chance to explore a relationship naturally because it’s what they both want, not because it’s the great hope of the nation.
Profile Image for Gina -   Behind the Pages.
258 reviews35 followers
November 25, 2014
Review: Captivate (Submerged Sun #1) by Vanessa Garden Thanks to Harlequin Australia for sending me a copy for reviewCaptivating; the one word that perfectly describes this book from start to finish.4.5....I absolutely fell in love with this book. Everything picks up straight away and we get thrown into life in Marin. Garden creates a stunning underwater world.We first learn about Miranda and her life in Aus. I can instantly imagine her grandparents shack as well as the surrounds. Miranda is such an easy to like character, and we instantly connect with her. We get thrown into a whirlwind of emotion when she gets taken, we are as angry and confused as she is when she wakes up. Our feelings already in-sync with hers, even though we are just a few chapters into the novel! And no matter how much we want Miranda to get home, we too, are falling in love with Marin and everything in it! When we see Marin for the first time, I was awe-struck. This was nothing that I was expecting. I was thinking that the people of Marin were some paranormal kind of creature, but nope, think again, and prepare to be amazed at what the reality is!This isn’t like other books where we only agree with some of what the main character is doing or saying. Even with her jealousy of her sister, Lauren, I instantly relate to Miranda about not being noticed compared to her sister. It is so easy to relate to this feeling, because it could be towards anyone, friend or sibling, so we know exactly how Miranda feels.I honestly didn’t predict anything in this book, EXCEPT THAT SILVIA IS EVIL!! (ok, this isn’t even confirmed yet. *anxiously waiting for next book*), it kept me on my toes and the middle-ending of the book kept me on the edge of my seat!Even though there is no actual love triangle in this book, I am horrified to say that I kind of made it one. I LOVE ROBBIE!! There, I said it. From the start, I was cheering for him. But! Just as Miranda starts to fall for Marko, I do too!! I can’t believe this is happening, because I want Miranda & Robbie! I got so frustrated because of my conflicting emotions, even though nothing was happening between Miranda & Robbie, I wish it did. At the end, I start questioning my feelings. Marko is amazing too! I don’t know what is happening to me, you all know how much I hate love triangles! Somebody virtually slap me.There are some secrets that Miranda hides from her sister, and this keeps us on edge, because we get so close to finding out through the book, but then, when we find it all out in the end and it’s a little of a disappointment. All the build up to this and it’s not even a dramatic thing. I don’t go ‘oh!!’, or even become shocked from it. But the ending is all about sisterhood, and it makes us feel like we want a connection like that to our own siblings. This is the only reason why I haven’t rated this book a 5!When I said before that this book is captivating, I was not joking around. Once you finish this book, you sit back, sigh, and go WOW! Not really ‘wow’, as in explosive, but in an ‘I can’t believe all that just happened’ kind of way. It is only when you finish this book that, I think this really sinks in. You don’t realize the potential of the next book until that last chapter. It completely sets the next book in the series, and I can’t wait!!
Profile Image for Taylor Price.
22 reviews7 followers
January 12, 2017
Personal Response:
Captivate is a very weird and off kind of book at first. In the beginning, I had no idea what to expect whatsoever. As the relationships and plot began to fall together I was really, should I say, captivated by the book. Miranda is a bold and desirable girl, who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Miranda, being as stubborn as she is, doesn’t do well as a captive in Marin. The plot becomes more, and more, mysterious near the end, when everything really takes off into a bloody conclusion. I was craving more of this book by the end.

In Captivate Miranda is kidnapped from her beach cabin and taken to the city of Marin. Marko, the king of Marin, needs to reproduce an heir to the throne. Miranda plays a huge part in this all. Miranda is the girl who will be forced to reproduce with Marko. Miranda is taken to an underwater city. This city is lit with white crystals that have healing properties. Marin is so deep into the ground that would crush ribs from the pressure. Miranda is trapped with a guard, Robbie, and as she falls in love with the guard she also falls for her kidnapper. Miranda finds out secrets that might cause Marko and herself harm. At the end of the book Marko’s brother kidnaps Miranda and everything gets very dangerous. This dangerous encounter forces Marko to make a very big decision for Miranda and his relationship.

Marko has a deep and dark side. Miranda and Marko have a very weird sarcastic relationship. Before they even started to form a relationship at all Miranda hated Marko with her whole heart. Marko seem so have a sweet spot for the undyingly stubborn ladies. Marko at first wasn’t fond of Miranda, but throughout the book the reader can see Marko develop sweet spots for Miranda. Marko has a troubling past, that he has tried to ignore and move past. His past makes him vulnerable, but strong. Marko grows to love, joke, and adore Miranda. Marko is the kind of man girls swoon over. Marko knows who he is completely and loves everything deeply. Miranda isn’t confident but she holds the world in her head. She is brilliant and gorgeous.

Impact of the Setting:
Marin is an underwater city with no way out. Marin has a beauty that grasps and holds someone. Marin’s crystals have a power that makes people want to stay even if in the beginning they don’t. This takes being a prisoner to a whole other level. Miranda is almost forced to enjoy what she has. Although, Marin is a civilization without sun grass is still grown and birds still fly. This dome like structure really allows imagination inside the book and outside to roam.

Thematic Connection:
In Marian there’s a chaos vs order theme. The whole book is revolved around the idea of making sure the good conquers over the evil. Marko, initially, kidnaps Miranda to reproduce an heir for him. For some reason, the women in Marin cannot reproduce. Marko is burdened with the idea of making a girl he doesn’t know his wife. If Marko and Miranda aren’t able to reproduce, then Marko’s evil brother will take over Marian.

I would recommend this book for a female, within their developmental stages, being anywhere from freshmen level and above. It may take someone more mature to grasp and connect to the emotions Vanessa Garden is trying to portray.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jackie (Jackie's Book World) .
857 reviews60 followers
January 23, 2014
*Review can also be found at Jackie's Book World :)*

Vanessa Garden has written such a captivating story that has made it to my favorite's list. From the beginning to the very end, I was intrigued and fascinated by the world she has created. I don't think I've read anything like it and that's what made it an amazing read.

Seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has been haunted by what happened to her parents twelve months ago, ever since then her relationship with her older sister, Lauren, hasn't been easy. When they are sent to live with their grandparents, both girls make amends and try to make things right. But what Miranda wasn't expecting was to be dragged down, under the ocean, by someone incredibly strong that would mark her fate. Drugged and locked in a room, Miranda doesn't know where she is other than she has to marry Marko, King of Miran, a undersea city. Shocked and confused, Miranda wants nothing to do with the malevolent plan that is going to keep her captive. Her guard and the stranger that brought her to Miran in the first place, Robbie, feels bad for her and they form a tight bond. A bond that would bring unhappiness and danger to the both of them.

Marko's only hope is to safe his kingdom from his evil half-brother, Damir, and the destruction that he would bring to his people. To do so he and along with his sister decide to bring a human girl to Miran in order for them to marry and bear a child to protect the crown. What he wasn't expecting to see is a very stubborn girl that refuses to marry him at all. And it is his duty to make her see the good in what she can do if he marries him.

There were a lot of things that I loved about this book, it's not only suspenseful, but it's also very romantic. Marin is a fascinating place that makes me want to move there! The relationship between Marko and Miranda isn't the best when they first met, they both are very much stubborn and refuse to see each other's side. But the more time they got to spend together, the more secrets are revealed and a whole new world starts to emerged. Vanessa Garden's story is beautifully written that makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable to read. The ending was not what I was expecting to read, it left me with a bittersweet feeling. I wanted the story to continue, too bad it didn't. But I can't wait to read what happens next. I highly recommend everyone to give this book a try, you will not regret it.

*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
683 reviews24 followers
February 10, 2014
[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

You know what? I didn’t expect to like Captivate as much as I did. The only reason I really took a chance on it was the fantastic cover. Sometimes, as I’ve found out, you can judge a book by its cover.

At first I thought this would be a mermaid book. In hindsight I’m not quite sure why I thought that but it turns out that this book is more science fiction than fantasy. I don’t want to give the big reveal away but it turns out mermaids and science intertwine in the history of the city, even if it’s not in the way you expect. The history of it is fascinating and I like how they maintain some customs from the surface while at the same time their culture evolves to suit their environment. It makes it a lot more realistic, believe me.

The one thing I was surprised to like was the characters. I know it sounds so much like your typical love triangle but it isn’t. The actions of Miranda make sense given her situation and her guilt over her parents’ death but the reactions of Robbie and Marko surprised me the most. They aren’t solely motivated by love, like a lot of love interests are. They are also motivated by family, duty and honour and it’s much more complicated (and believable) than your traditional oh-no-I-like-two-boys-and-they-like-me love triangle. There’s more to Robbie and Marko than meets the eye and Miranda has quite a few surprises up her sleeves as well.

There were some plot twists that I had no idea were coming. Vanessa Garden seems to have almost totally departed from traditional YA formula when it comes to plot twists. It’s shocking. I completely did not see the ending coming and I was pleasantly surprised with Miranda. She stayed true to herself throughout the novel but at the same time was able to admit when she was wrong. And most importantly of all, she learns to slowly forgive herself for her parents’ deaths.

It’s a fascinating story and I can’t wait for the rest of the Submerged Sun series to come out, even though Captivate was just published this year. We can expect big things from Vanessa Garden in the future, that’s for sure! If you’re looking for some interesting science fiction, a little bit of romance and a fast plot look no further than Captivate.

I give this book 5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Anika Claire.
Author 3 books44 followers
January 2, 2014
When I received this book for review I really wasn’t sure what to expect from yet another YA mermaid book, but I was pleasantly surprised by this very well-written tale of duty, betrayal and romance.

Miranda has been struggling following the death of her parents in a car crash a year ago. Her older sister, Lauren, has become distant and Miranda feels now than ever that she is living in Lauren’s shadow. During a moonlight swim at their grandparents’ summer beach house, Miranda is stolen away to a strange underwater city. The people here aren’t mermaids, but a kingdom of humans from all over the world, living together in a city lit by strange crystals. The women have become infertile and Miranda has been chosen to marry King Marko and bear the kingdom of Marin an heir, to prevent Marko’s evil brother from taking the throne. As the weeks go by, Miranda gets to know the initially cold and arrogant Marko and discovers that he is just as trapped as she is.

There are all sorts of interesting topics brought to light in this story, among them duty to one’s family and realm, the anguish of not being able to have children, as well as body image confidence and other more “usual” teen issues. I thought they were all dealt with very well – Vanessa Garden writes with a realistic voice and the pace was high throughout the story. Miranda was a believable seventeen-year-old, at first violently opposed to being kept captive and forced to dance (literally) to the kingdom’s tune. There are plenty of political shenanigans, not to mention the strange experiments being done on women in the realm.

There is a love triangle here though, which was a bit of a shame. I was sure that Robbie was going to be the main love interest, and it felt a little like Stockholm Syndrome when Miranda started to actually have real feelings for Marko. I think I would have liked it better if Robbie had been left out of the romance, but oh well, that’s the way the kids seem to like it these days!

There’s plenty of room for future books in a series so I’ll be keeping my eye open for the further Marin adventures.

This review was originally posted on Tea in the Treetops in January 2014.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,738 reviews1,306 followers
December 31, 2013
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Harlequin Enterprises Australia and Netgalley.)
16-year-old Miranda and her sister Lauren live with their grandparents following the death of their parents nearly a year earlier.
Whilst swimming in the ocean with her sister, Miranda is dragged below the water, and wakes to find that she is being held prisoner, and worse– she’s being held in an underwater world, where she has been chosen to bear the kings children.
Why was Miranda chosen? And will she ever see her sister again?

I can’t say I was overly impressed with this book, it was fairly dull and predictable, and by the end the main character was starting to annoy me.

Miranda was a bit of an acquired taste. While she seemed alright at the beginning of the book, her plans to escape, and her decisions during the book just went from bad to worse, and then her opinions did a total 180 practically overnight, which was a bit irritating. She also came across as pretty stupid at times, and since when do the mafia have a king?

The storyline in this was okay, but mainly it was just predictable. When something happened at the 30% mark I had been expecting it from about the second page of the book, so I wasn’t really all that surprised at all.
The storyline about what happened to Miranda’s parents was kept a mystery, other than to tell us that Miranda felt guilty over it, until the very end of the book, which was just too long in my opinion.
I found most of this book just dull. It didn’t hold my attention, it was obvious what was going to happen next all the time, and Miranda and her love triangle just irritated me.
The ending was then annoying also. While Miranda got what she wanted in one respect, she also complained about it, and tried to undo it. Yep, her opinions had changed that much, and I still can’t work out why.
Overall; disappointing.
6 out of 10.
Profile Image for Tracy Banghart.
Author 13 books916 followers
February 10, 2014
Review to come! I'm still processing all my feels O_O


Full Review

Okay, it just needs to be said....this book captivated me! ;-) Miranda drew me in right away and I was immediately intrigued by the hint of her past regrets and secrets. Then, when we arrive in Marin, the underwater world Vanessa created came to beautiful life before my eyes. At first, it was wonderfully claustrophobic, much like the caves in Stephenie Meyer's THE HOST and the spaceship in Beth Revis's ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. I could feel the walls closing in on Miranda, could feel every visceral moment of her desperation. I thought Vanessa did a fantastic job of not romanticizing Miranda's kidnapping. Sure, it wouldn't be a story if Miranda didn't find a place in her new world and develop feelings for our leading men; BUT Vanessa handled Miranda's gradualy evolving feelings with grace and subtlety. And this is definitely one of those books where I couldn't figure out how it could possibly end. I love that urgency to keep reading faster and faster to see what happens next!

Another element I found super intriguing was the mystery of how the people came to be in Marin and what kind of civilization had built the underwater city. Vanessa poses all these tantalizing questions about her world...many of which she waits to answer until book two. Which was very sneaky on her part because it's just ANOTHER reason that I MUST GET MY HANDS ON BOOK TWO!!

Overall, I loved CAPTIVATE and can't wait to dive again into Miranda's world. If you're looking for an intensely romantic read, just in time for Valentine's Day, I recommend picking this one up!
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