Just another random person reiterating what an incredible book this is. This was not at all the story I expected. I thought, oh, a combination of text and old photographs, this is going to be some artsy wannabe pretending they're a hotshot professional photographer. Guys, look closely at the cover. She's hovering. And that's just one of many incredible photographs contained within these pages, shaping a terrifying, suspenseful book that will actually leave you with chills. There are so many incredible plot twists along the way. I lost my love of the story a bit when time travel came into the picture, and the focus shifted from the incredible characters who I wanted to fully know to a less interesting, less bone-chilling plotline. All of the props I have to offer to the characters, though. Great book, really original, stays with you long after you're done.
I've written on my dislike of the first book in the series, Abandon, so I was surprised to see that I liked Underworld slightly more than its predecessor. It's still nowhere near the Meg Cabot I grew to love with The Princess Diaries and Mediator and all her other books, but it was a slight improvement. We got to learn a bit more about John, which was nice, but he's still kind of a controlling boyfriend, and I'm still unsure how to feel about all that. The novel is still slow-paced much like Abandon, but there was a decent amount of suspense to move it along. Alex's storyline had very little appeal and didn't seem to add much to the story, despite pretty much being the main point of the book. This book felt so forced. I'm just not sure what happened to Meg's writing charm, but I wish she could find it again. Rating: 3/5
What a shame that a great book like Leaving Paradise got such a lackluster sequel. If a follow-up story had to happen, which I don't feel it did, it should have at least focused on Leah's role in everything. It is one of the most contrived, pointless books I've read in a while, which is a shame considering how powerful its predecessor is. Forgiveness is a powerful central theme, and without Leah around to propel that same original story forward, this book falls flat on its face, and I almost wish it had been Caleb, so the story contained genuinely deep discussions on redemption. I have trouble believing it's even the same author writing these two books, this was just so bad compared to Leaving Paradise. I came for the deep, original, beautiful story, and ended up leaving with a pathetic romance novel. I'm not impressed. I'd like to pretend a sequel never happened.
Easily one of the best books I've read this year, this original story is an instant YA classic about the transcending power of forgiveness. It is the ultimate exercise in imagining complexly, but also so much just an amazing story. Good writing is important, and Elkeles is capable of it, but having that unique, compelling concept to propel the storytelling is critical, and at that, Elkeles' book is perfection. What a powerful book. I feel that the main story was slightly cheapened by the last minute plot-twist, which is never explored as much as it could have been, but the underlying message of our shared humanity is still an important one.
I haven't read any other mermaid YA novels, although I hear there's a relatively new-ish trend towards the mermaid trope. After reading this one, I'm really not sure I want to seek out any more mermaid books. I tried to be open-minded and read the whole book, but really, though, this was not a good book for me. Just in terms of the writing style, basic sentence variation goes a long way to counter awkward writing. It's something I personally struggle with, but then, I'm not looking to be a published writer either. Beyond that though, the story itself...Tristan is the obnoxious popular kid you can't stand at school. He's full of himself, you can't relate to him, despite his role as the main character, he's shallow, sexist, unlikable...the list of adjectives goes on. He's a caricature of hotheaded teenage arrogance. Guys, the sentence "I'm not rippling with the muscles of the other bros, but I've got a pretty hot body" exists within these pages. Honestly? My favorite characters in this book were Tristan's parents. That's probably not a great sign for a young adult novel. People spend so much time and energy ripping apart novels like Twilight, and the criticisms are often merited, but I'd really like to hand those same people this book and see where that goes. So on top of awkward writing and two-dimensional characters, the plot is convoluted, and I just could not bring myself to care. If anyone has any good YA mermaid book recs, sure, I'd love to check them out with an open mind, but this was not a book for me.
Oh, Nancy Werlin, so hit or miss. I've previously mentioned my feelings on many of her other books, but suffice it to say that her newer material is light years away in quality from her older stuff. This one was okay, the supernatural elements were thankfully toned down (they work extremely well in Impossible and Extraordinary, can't say the same for the rest...), and it ends up being more of a story about a girl coping with her brother's death, and trying to figure out the complicated circumstances surrounding it, including finding an undercover drug smuggling ring at her school. It's not a bad book, it's not a particularly well-written or original book either, but I've seen much worse.
Rating: Very 'meh'. 3/5
With so many new debut YA novelists arriving on the scene lately, I've been getting lost and sticking to the familiar. However, I had this book heavily recommended by a friend and went for it. I'm so glad I did. The book is written partially as a story, but has epistolary aspects to it, which I always enjoy. Amy and Roger getting to literally revisit the scenes of their past results in a powerful journey for them and a powerful story for us. Unlike many narratives, the idea of 'grief' is not isolated to death, although that does prominently feature, but extends itself out to other kinds of profound, irreversible losses that we all experience. I'm not usually one to want for a sequel where a sequel is unnecessary, and I understand that things were meant to be left a little open ended, but storytelling-wise, I do think leaving Amy and Roger where they were was a little too open. I wish we had gotten some more definitive answers on their future. Regardless, it's a powerful story for anyone who has lost a loved one and had to move on, but be warned, you will want to go on a cross-country road trip once you're done!