Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lies Beneath Book Review

Author: Anne Greenwood Brown. Release date: 2012. Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780385742016.

Annotation: Calder White and his three sisters are a family of mermaids that hunt in the waters of Lake Superior: feeding off the lives and emotions of humans. In order to avenge their mother’s death, Calder and his sisters vow to kill the person they believe to be responsible, a man named Jason Hancock. Calder’s sisters order him to seduce Lily, Hancock’s daughter, to get close to her father, but Calder doesn’t expect to find himself falling in love with his prey.

Personal thoughts: I’m always intrigued by mermaid tales, especially ones where the mermaids are kind of mean, so this story was up my alley. While I did enjoy it, there were some aspects that I wish had been downplayed and some that I wish had been highlighted more. I really liked reading about Calder and his sisters and their ability to lure victims to their watery graves. I wanted to know more about the mermaid family, but instead the bulk of the novel focused on Lily and her relationship with Calder. The romance was sweet, but seemed to blossom incredibly quickly from trepidation to full-blown love within a few chapters. I also felt like the ending got a little muddled, but I will still likely pick up the sequel when it’s released later this year. I think the series has potential and would recommend it to readers who like paranormal romance, especially of the mermaid variety.  

Plot summary: For decades, Calder White and his sisters, Maris, Pavati and Tallulah, have hunted in the waters of Lake Superior. Feeding off the lives and emotions of humans, Calder and his sisters are not like the Disney version of mermaids: their supernatural powers and ability to survive both above and beneath the surface of the icy waves makes them lethal to their prey. Years earlier, their mother died as a result of a broken promise made between her and a human man who’s life she saved in exchange for that of his infant child. The man, Tom Hancock, took his family away from the lake, but his now adult son, Jason, has returned with his wife and children. Determined to avenge their mother’s death, Maris, the eldest of Calder’s sisters and the leader of their family, orders Calder to seduce Lily, Jason’s seventeen-year-old daughter. In order to please his sisters, Calder gets close to Lily, spending more time with her than he ever has with another human. What Calder doesn’t expect, however, is to find himself falling in love with his prey. As Lily and Calder get closer, will he be able to deliver her father to his sisters?

Review: Author Anne Greenwood Brown’s enthusiasm for Lake Superior is evident in her debut novel, Lies Beneath, the first installment in a new series for young adults. It’s not very often that mermaid tales take place in a lake, but the author’s obvious love for the beauty surrounding the nearly ocean-sized body of water makes the presence of sea creatures perfectly acceptable. The geography and climate of the lake is almost as much of a character as Calder, the leading merman, and Lily, his unknowing prey. Readers who are unfamiliar with Lake Superior will feel like they know the area quite well by the end of the story, largely due to the factual information the author includes about the history and lore that surround it. The plot of the novel itself is also interesting, with Calder and his mermaid sisters being more like sharks circling the shore watching for prey. The revenge aspect of the tale gets slightly confusing at times: it’s clear that there is more to the story but it isn’t until the end of the book that the author really decides what direction she wants to take the characters. The conclusion feels somewhat abrupt, but overall, the novel is entertaining and will likely leave readers excited for the sequel, Deep Betrayal, which is set to be released on March 12, 2013.

Genre:  Fantasy

Reading level: Grade 7+

Similar titles: Lost Voices by Sarah Porter, Of Poseidon by Anna Banks.  

Themes:  Mermaids, revenge, murder, sibling relationships, romance, secrets, betrayal.  

Awards/Reviews:  Positive review from School Library Journal.

Series Information: First installment in Lost Voices series. Sequel, Deep Betrayal, set to be released March 12, 2013.

Discussion questions:

-         Why do you think Calder had a hard time feeding off of humans but his sisters seemed to enjoy it?

-        Which of Calder’s sisters was your favorite? Which was your least favorite? Why?

-         Have you ever been to Lake Superior? If not, did you learn anything about it while reading the novel?

-         Why do you think Lily was scared of Calder at first? What do you think changed her mind?

-          Do you think Lily always suspected Calder was a merman? Why or why not?

-        What would you like to see happen in the sequel?

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