Unpolished. That’s the best word I can use to describe this book. The writing was FAR from polished, and yet it was oddly compelling. No matter how awkward the writing got at times, the characters shone through, and the plot pulled me onward. Do I think, for instance, that Gemma was such a dumb jock that she wouldn’t have thought to look up information on sirens, at least on Google? NO. Even Bella Swan figured that out, and Gemma has a lot more initiative than Bella ever did. So some parts of the plot rang more true than others. But in general, this was a much more enjoyable read than I expected, one that started off interesting, if awkward, and grew on me and/or improved as I went along.
I found the treatment of mermaids/ sirens creative and interesting, if pretty creepy and gross. And the characters grew on me. Gemma for being so bold and determined and brave. Harper for being, well, annoying at first, but for having a good heart, one that wants to help the ones she cares about. And because I realized, well, that I was Harper. My family situation might be different, but I’ve said and done some of the same things she said and did word-for-word–and also I like to work at libraries and read at night. It’s difficult to argue that a character is unrealistic when they’ve said and done things exactly like you have in the past. Annoying, I cannot argue about–Harper was a bit of a prat throughout the book, especially in the beginning (which caused me to pause a bit–I hope I’m not that annoying anymore. I am sure I was when I was Harper’s age, though. Parentalized children often are.).
I liked Daniel, for being funny and light hearted and tender, and seeing the good in Harper beneath her holier-than-thou prickly exterior defenses, and not giving up until he could reach the real her. And Alex for being a sweet normal kid, an awkward teenage boy falling in love with a cute girl who happens to have lived next door his whole life. I felt the relationships rang true with how such people really would interact, from the stumblingly awkward first love experiences of Alex and Gemma, to the more mature yet tentative relationship slowly building between Daniel and Harper. The sirens themselves were convincingly creepy too. Decent villains, with a back story that may not have excused their behavior, but did help to explain it.
The supporting characters were pretty one dimensional–Marcy, Harper and Gemma’s mom, etc. I think the author TRIED to develop Brian (Is it just me, or is it weird to hear him constantly referred to in by his first name, even though this is written in third person, and Gemma and Harper call him “Dad”?), but he still felt a bit bland and unsubstantial. Maybe that was the point, a dad so worn out by loss, grief, and responsibility that he’s not really there. I also found his relationship with Harper a bit weird. Not necessarily inappropriate, but certainly not normal (or healthy for Harper, in my opinion).
I don’t care for cliffhanger endings, and this certainly was. And yet, there was a clear breaking point, so I don’t feel as cheated as I have with some books (ahem, the Calling, I’m looking at you.). I will definitely read the next book, to see what happens to Gemma, Harper, Daniel, and Alex. I’m curious to see if Marcy or the parents figure into the story any more, and how Harper and Daniel (and Alex?) intend to fight back against such creepily powerful beings.
So, yes, I’d recommend this book. If you are able to look past some less-than-perfect writing, and just enjoy a diamond in the rough for its better points, I think you’ll enjoy this as much as I did.