Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy (?)
Pub Date: June 12, 2012
Coffee Beans: 2.5/5
Spoilers: Not really
Favorite Line: I hadn’t killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that. (pg 10, ebook), Maris chose her words like a surgeon chose a scalpel (pg 18, ebook), The sky darkened like ink spreading through a shirt pocket… (Pg 86, ebook)
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for this honest review
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 irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting 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.
Okay – First, I felt this book had a lot of promise. The cover is suh-weet (although I was confused as to why the put a mermaid on the cover when it’s told from the point of view of Calder , a merman). The summary is dark and awesome. The first few chapters were more than I could have hoped for.
Which is why I was so confused by all the two and three star reviews on GoodReads (I didn’t read any of them, just looked at the ratings). I thought to myself, “Pft! These weirdoes don’t know a good book when they read one!” and proceeded on my merry reading way. I mean, a book with an opening line like this, had to be good, right? RIGHT?!?! I hadn’t killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that.”
What I liked:
I liked Brown’s take on the traditional mermaid myth where mermaids were bad and killed people (anyone else notice that YA books are turning more dark when it comes to fairy tales? I like it). The fact that they fed on the happiness of humans because they couldn’t produce their own. The fact that deep down, they were primal and instinctual beings.
The author does a great job of dropping tidbits of information relevant to the mythology behind the story as well as the mermaids’ motivation for what they’re doing. It flows so well and feels so natural. But at some points, I was thoroughly confused and wished she’d dropped a little more clues. Like the revenge they felt for their mother. Were they just really pissed, or was their drive more paranormal and instinctual? I’m leaning towards the latter of the two, but we’re never really given a good picture.
The writing, for the most part, was really great. Good descriptions and flow (…my stomach twisted like a snake in a jar, pg 30, ebook). Dialogue was natural and engaging. I liked Lily’s tattoo: No coward soul is mine but that’s beside the point. The story had so much potential to be a really good book.
What I didn’t like:
The book opens with Calder telling us he’s abstaining from taking human lives. But why? All we’re given is the reason of “because he wanted to see if he could.”
Yeah, okay. I guess that’s good. Enough. But I would’ve liked to be given a better reason than that. Something that actually had more significance to him, so that way when he’s tempted to kill Lily we know the battle he’s fighting and the strength it takes to resist. (But now that I think of it, there really wasn’t that much of a struggle for him. C’mon, dude. You haven’t eaten ANYTHING in over NINE MONTHS. It’s okay to be thinking your girlfriend looks a little tasty).
There also seemed to be a couple of scenes that weren’t important because they didn’t add to the plot what-so-ever and then were never mentioned again. And WEIRD things happened in them, and in the “real” world, the events would have been brought up and shunned. (I put “real” in quotes because in a REAL world, Calder’s fishtail of a rear end would’ve been kicked to the curb and would’ve been served with a restraining order by the biggest, baddest, meanest looking delivery person I could find).
For the most part, I got a really good, 3D sense of the characters, especially Maris. Calder, though, was a little ambiguous. I couldn’t help but get a generic feel for him. And therefore, generic, non-committed feelings for him. Good-looking guy. Strong. Smart. Funny. Possessive. Protective. (Anyone else seeing the clichéd cookie cutout “main guy” image so prevalent in today’s YA books?) I want something, SOMEONE real! I really thought I’d get it with Calder, but no dice.
And Lily…flat. And a 100% WEAK character. No, let me take that back. She’s far from weak. Loves her family, would sacrifice herself for him, thinks Calder’s muy estraño from the beginning. So she’s not weak, I guess. But the fact that Calder’s pretty much STALKING her, and she KNOWS IT, and she doesn’t follow her first impression that he CREEPS HER OUT, is pretty aggravating. So maybe she’s just a DUMB character?
I would have liked it so much more if she was put in a situation to be forced to partner with him against her better judgment in order to save the greater good instead of falling for him after he keeps pestering her. To me, it would’ve been a much more plausible evolution of a relationship.
I also think that part of the story being told from Lily’s POV would have been VERY beneficial for me as a reader. Then, at least, I’d have had some sense of reasoning behind her decision to go out with this complete creep that is Calder.
Girls (or anyone, really): If a boy is stalking you (showing up at your house in the middle of the night with lame reasons, ends up getting a job where you applied, is following you around), and you already have a bad feeling about him, please don’t perceive that as flattering. I’m so fed up with books that portray this kind of behavior as right or acceptable. There are real people out there who do these kinds of thing and are dangerous. The fact that authors are portraying this as something to be attracted to or desired is horrible.
*Steps off soap box. Dusts hands off*
There, I feel better.
I hate delivering BRs like this one. It hurts me to give my honest opinion because I know how much love, blood, tears, and pieces of ourselves an author puts into their books. They love it. Their agent and publisher love it. But it’s my job to give my honest opinion about what I read. And I DON’T love this book. I don’t even really LIKE it. I feel meh about it. I know there will always be people like me out there, but it doesn’t make this any easier. Ever.
Anyway, you may like it. Pick it up and read it, deciding for yourself. Me? I won’t be recommending it to anyone.
Happy reading, my friends!