First of all, what a beautiful cover!! Secondly, Lies Beneath was my first book about mermaids ever, so I had no idea what to expect. I have never given much attention to mermaids, the only mermaid thing I have ever seen on TV in Disney's the Little Mermaid and the movie Aquamerine. I was expecting all mermaids to be like Ariel, all nice and friendly and girly, but only after reading the first chapters I was sure I was 100% wrong about them. They were badass killer mermaids!
Right after opening this book I was sucked into the story, told from Calder's -a merman- point of view. Calder was a great character, although he reminded me of Edward from the Twilight Saga at some parts of the book. The only thing he does is lying, not because he wants to, but for his sisters, who are definitely more kick-ass than he is. I absolutly love the whole woman on top thing :) Maris is the kind of annoying, but also the most dangerous of the mermaids. She wants to avenge her mother's death, and is prepared to do everything for that. Then there is the sweet one of the 3 sisters, Tallulah, and to me she seemed a porcelain doll, breakable but extremely beautiful.
The plot of this stories was very original. Killer mermaids, teenage romance, family drama, the whole package! Some passages made me smile, others made me sad. But at the end some of them just made no sense, and even annoyed me. I can't say much about it without spoiling, so I won't... But I was not very happy about it.
Anne Greenwood Brown's writing style is not very special, but pleasant to read. It was not extremely hard, so I didn't have to pick up a dictionary every minute, and it had little pieces of poetry in it. I really love poetry, although I am really bad at understanding it... Furthermore, it was written from a single POV, which I really liked. Most of the books I read are written from multiple points of view, which sometimes confuses me.
I give 3.5 stars to Lies Beneath, a very original YA romance with something for everyone, which I would recommend especially to people who have already read some other mermaid books and are looking for another gread mermaid book.
*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. This was done via Netgalley, an organization that connects readers with publishers and distrubutes eGalleys. I did not recieve any money or other payment for this review.*
This book did not disappoint. I had such high hopes for Calder's story, and this book did not let me down. Loved. It.
First off, how can you not love a killer mermaid story told from a merman's point of view? C'mon! That is awesomeness in the making. Period. The mermaids in Lies Beneath are not your typical merfolk. There are no Disney mermaids here, folks. These are the cold-hearted killers of mythology. I thought it was brilliant that the author took one of the lesser-known mermaid tales and incorporated it into her story. The mermaids of Lake Superior do not lure boaters to their deaths like sirens. Instead, they are lonely, miserable creatures that feed off of human emotions. Positive emotions actually. There is a systematic targeting of happy people throughout the book, except for Calder. He's different.
Maybe it's the fact that he wasn't born into the life of a mermaid but was created instead? That could be one of the things that marks him as different. But I like to think of it in a deeper sense. Like other "monster" books, you have to ask yourself: Is evil a trait that you are born with, or is it something you learn? Ask yourself that as you read this book and let me know what you think.
I'm inserting my tangent here about innate vs created evil so you can follow my thought process with this book. The best literary example is that of Frankenstein's monster. When he was created, he was not evil. He was in fact a gentle creature desperate for his creator's attention. But as the story progresses, he experiences rejection, humiliation, and the lack of love. All of these negative experiences drive him to eventually commit the ultimate act of evil. Which (I think) proves that evil is created.
Calder's life seems to confirm my views on that topic, especially when you compare him to his sisters. Throughout the entire book, Calder struggles with finding his humanity. Although it's never mentioned in that sense, that's exactly what's he's doing... and I must admit the ending was very surprising!
I think as this series continues, it's going to be even more amazing. I cannot wait to see what Calder becomes. I have my thoughts as to how future characters will further develop (and complicate) this plot, but I am going to have to wait to see if I'm correct.
If you couldn't tell, I think this book is one of the summer's must reads. I loved it. If you're a mermaid fan then this is a no-brainer. You will be reading this book. This book would lead to so many great discussions. The mythology behind the mermaids , the struggle to retain/find one's humanity, and the Victorian poetry used throughout the story are only the beginning!
A whirlwind tale of revenge and romance, Lies Beneath is the gripping tale of Calder White - a boy looking for revenge for the death of his mother, who finds forgiveness and love in the arms of the daughter of the man he's sworn to kill.
I absolutely loved reading from a male PoV - it was a refreshing change and definitely added to my ability to really enjoy this book. Calder White is arrogant, blunt and completely unfamiliar with how to properly converse with humans. Having spent most of his life using his powers of persuasion to lure unsuspecting humans into the water, he's completely out of touch with how to hold a proper conversation. Being tasked with woo-ing Jason Hancock's daughter, Calder figures Lily will easily succumb to his hypnotic ways and he'll finally be able to seek his revenge and gain his freedom. Unfortunately for Calder, Lily seems almost immune to his regular tactics, and he begins to realize it's going to take a lot more then a few witty one-liners to gain her affections.
I loved watching Calder try to figure out Lily! She frustrated him to no end and her ability to reject his imposition on her mind had him stumbling for what to say. I enjoyed watching him squirm under her observant gaze as he tried to explain why he was suddenly everywhere she went, and I liked that Lily admitted that he made her nervous, rather then having her fall inexplicably and instantaneously in love with him. His constant watch over Lily went from creepy-serial killer-ish to creepy-stalkerish to kind of romantic (but still slightly creepy) and I loved watching him struggle with his growing emotions that he found both foreign and confusing. His erratic behaviour would have been enough to cause me concern, and Lily's willingness to forgive his transgressions was a little strange. Then again, if he was the only person who might be able to answer my questions, I might be more willing to turn a blind eye to his weird behaviour.
I loved Lily. She's so different from any other female YA character that I've ever read about! She's a little quirky, choosing to dress how she thinks the poets of the Victorian era would dress now if they were still alive, and she has a healthy amount of fear for strangers. Knowing that something wasn't quite normal with Calder didn't have Lily jumping in to his waiting arms - it had her keeping him at a safe distance until his persistence (and slight charm) slowly broke down her defences. She stuck to her beliefs, even though similar beliefs had her grandfather deemed insane by the rest of the family, and she was smart enough to put together the pieces for herself.
I would have liked to see more from Calder's sisters. Dark, twisted and fascinatingly creepy, I was surprised by how little they made an appearance. And while I understood Calder's rationale behind getting close to Jason's daughter in order to get close to him, I was also surprised by how little interaction there was between Calder and Jason. After being unable to shake his hand, I figured Calder would admit they needed to come up with a different plan because he couldn't stomach to be near Jason. It just seemed like a lot of unnecessary work, especially when an impulsive decision by one of Calder's sisters towards the end accomplished in one moment what Calder had spent weeks trying for. I disliked Calder's breakdown at the end - it was poorly explained and I didn't understand why he was punishing himself that way - but it didn't last too long, so it's not a huge complaint.
A strong male protagonist, complimented by an eerily dangerous atmosphere makes Lies Beneath a suspenseful and fast-paced read. Calder's inexperience with humans makes his moments of socially unaccepted behaviours endearing, and his emotional torment over where his loyalties laid was heartbreaking.
There's something about mermaids and the suspension of disbelief that is harder than other paranormal literary endeavors. Despite that, mermaids are absolutely in right now. They have been for a while (ever since, I believe, Stephenie Meyer announced she'd been sitting on a thousand page mermaid manuscript at home), and the YA market is thoroughly suited for it. I've been meaning to read one of these new mermaid books for a while, and I'm glad that, in the end, I chose this one in particular.
LIES BENEATH, by Anne Greenwood Brown, begins in the Caribbean. That's where Calder escapes to when the waters of Lake Superior get too cold. It's the only time he's able to leave his adopted sisters, Maris, Pavati, and Tallulah, to whom he is bound whether he likes it or not, pulled by a migratory instinct back into their waters every year as the cold gives way to summer.
He's gone about six months without killing anyone, which is some kind of record. Mermaids (and mermen, of course) are predators, after all. Not for meat, but for human emotion. They cannot find happiness on their own, so they must take it from others. But the act kills, and Calder is tired of being a killer.
When Maris calls to tell him to come back home, he would like to ignore her. But beyond the migratory pull, the unbreakable link between him and his sisters, there's only one other thing that would bring him back. They've found Hancock, the son of the man responsible for their mother's death, the man who owes them the debt of his own life, the one man Calder could kill - and will kill - with pleasure.
So begins this particular mermaid story. Returning as quickly as he can to the waters of his first transformation, Calder rejoins his sisters to plot Hancock's death. But his plans quickly unravel when he meets Hancock's daughter. Lily is nothing like anyone Calder has ever met. She's loyal and fierce and quirky and beautiful ? and she's not buying a single inch of his charm.
LIES BENEATH somehow manages to overcome the peculiar difficulty mermaid stories have of suspending disbelief. Mermaids, after all, belong to the world of fairy tales and sailor stories. They don't do well on land. But the novel overcomes this by developing two excellent characters in Lily and Calder. Tentative at first, it's worth pushing past the first introductory chapters till the narrative gets going. There are awkward moments at first: The description of Lily when we first meet her doesn't entirely mesh with her character after she warms to Calder, the moments when Calder has to dash from the car to the water sans clothing seem like they'd be trickier than they are, and anyone getting caught stealing pastries probably wouldn't get hired by the person who caught them a few days later ? even with paranormal charm. But these moments aren't much more than awkwardnesses, and they're overcome by the progression of the love story which draws beautifully on the poetic tradition of Tennyson and Yeats.
That is the strength of the book, in fact, those moments that drop into Victorian poetic allusion. And perhaps this is just because of my fondness for Tennyson, and Elaine of Astolat in particular, but the scenes that reference his "Lady of Shallott" are darling and precious. And the use of his mermaid poems are more than clever. They give the whole novel a richer heart. Here's part of one to leave you with:
Low adown, low adown,
From under my starry sea-bud crown
Low adown and around,
And I should look like a fountain of gold
With a shrill inner sound,
Over the throne
In the midst of the hall;
Till that great sea-snake under the sea
From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps
Would slowly trail himself sevenfold
Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate
With his large calm eyes for the love of me.
And all the mermen under the sea
Would feel their immortality
Die in their hearts for the love of me.