Falling in love shouldn’t feel like drowning. Seventeen-year-old Arion Rush has always played the obedient sidekick to her older sister’s flashy femme fatale—until a mysterious boating accident leaves Lilah a silent, traumatized stranger. As her sister awaits medical treatment with their mother, Arion and her father head to his hometown in Maine to prepare a new life for them all. Surrounded by the vast Atlantic, she finds solace in songwriting, her only solid ground. Unexpectedly, Arion blossoms in the tiny coastal town. Friends flock to her, and Logan Delaine, a volatile heartthrob, seems downright smitten. But it’s Bo Summers—a solitary surfer, as alluring as he is aloof—that Arion can’t shake. Meanwhile, Lilah’s worsening condition, a string of local fatalities, and Arion’s own recent brushes with death seem ominously linked…to Bo’s otherworldly family. As Arion’s feelings for Bo intensify and his affections turn possessive, she must make a choice. How will Arion learn to listen to her own voice when Bo’s siren song won’t stop ringing in her ears?
The written dialogue in this book is one of its best features. It feels genuinely authentic and age appropriate. Each character also seems to have his or her own voice, which helps make the characters more complex. I especially like the witty banter between Arion and Logan. It is very funny and charismatic. I often found myself smiling at their repartee.
Additionally, the novel’s structure adds to the thrilling aspects of the book, while also introducing an artistic flair. The chapter titles and their font aid the tone without giving too much away. For example, one chapter is called “Intruder.” As a result, though I do not know who the Intruder is or what will happen, I immediately feel the anticipation of what is to come. Moreover, there are a few short chapters, almost unintelligible, during the times Arion is going through an emotional crisis. These chapters are musical, like Arion herself, but again add to the overall puzzle.
Those, however, familiar with The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer will notice distinct similarities in the relationships between Arion and Bo and Bella and Edward. In both books, the male character saves the girl, starting a suspicion in her mind that he may be more than human. The lead female then does research to figure out what otherworldly creature the male could possibly be. Once she draws a conclusion, she confronts him with it, which leads to a case of forbidden love. It is the handling of the forbidden love though that is different. Twilight received a lot of criticism for the portrayal of Bella as a weak female figure and how unhealthy her romance is with Edward. Those who had these issues with Twilight, on the other hand, will not find the same problems with Shining Sea.
The ending of Shining Sea also leaves a bit to be desired, but perhaps it is a set up for a second novel. Hopefully, this will not be a standalone book, but rather, expanded with more adventures and closure. Overall though, Shining Sea is a fun read with wonderful imagery.