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 irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting 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.
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Three stars: A mermaid tale filled with dark revenge and unexpected romance.
Calder soaks up the warm glow of the sun as two lovely sun drenched, bikini clad beauties stroll by his hiding spot. Their bubbling emotions draw him like a moth to a flame, but he pulls back, not wanting to indulge and give in to his dark side, despite the promise of warmth from their energy. His cell phone's annoying ring tears him away from the girls. He sighs as he sees the number, again, on his phone. Maris, is sister is calling, beckoning him back to Lake Superior with the promise of finally exacting the long overdue revenge that he and his mermaid sisters have been planning to execute for years. Calder is not your average teenage boy. He is a merman, destined to lead a cold existence that requires him to feed on the emotions of humans. Emotions are like a drug, dragging him to the alluring humans all in order to drown them and drink up their life's energy. He leads a solitary life. His only companions are his three mermaid sisters, who are cruel and vindictive. Since the death of their beloved mother, the quartet has sought to destroy the son of the man who broke a promise to their mother years ago. Getting close to this man might require Calder to strike up a relationship with his daughters. Calder does not expect to get more than he bargained for. Will he indeed destroy this man or lose his heart to his daughter?
What I Liked:
- I know I have said this before but it bears repeating, I truly enjoy a YA novel told from a male POV. There are not enough male protagonists out there and each new unique male voice is a like breath of fresh air. Calder is that gust of freshness. Not only is he a male narrator, but he is also a merman. I enjoyed getting to know him and especially liked watching him battle with the inner demons and monster that wages inside him. He constantly deprives himself of partaking emotions from humans, as that requires killing. For him going without this recharging force is like starving. This story also focuses on Calder's own self discovery. If you are wanting a male protagonist that is different, Calder is for you.
- I liked that this book is set in Lake Superior instead of the ocean as you would expect when reading a mermaid book. I am not overly familiar with the Great Lakes so to read about the wonders of Lake Superior and discover some of the hidden finds within its waters was interesting.
- I enjoyed that this tale takes on a darker tone. It is a story of revenge and the ultimate consequences that come with the destruction of lives. Calder wrestles with the repercussions that come with murder. I also liked the portrayal of the mermaids as the sirens, luring unsuspecting humans to their deaths with their deadly beauty and charm.
- The romance in this one is a slow bloomer. It starts off as a plan for Calder to use Lily, but then unexpectedly turns into sparks. It is hesitant, shaky and it takes its time to unfurl. No love triangles or insta love in this one.
And The Not So Much:
- I think my biggest criticism for this one was lack of character development. Calder was the only character that I felt like I knew. The rest, including Lily, needed more details. For instance, Lily is portrayed as this girl who has her own unique style and she loves poetry, but I just felt like I didn't know her at all. In the beginning, I liked the way she was a bit afraid of Calder and questioned him, but later she falls for him. I thought her change of heart was a bit sudden, I would like to have seen more of her emotions and why she fell for him. Lily's mother is a cardboard motherly character who is stricken with some illness that is never revealed. Taking the time to flesh her out and make the reader feel sympathetic toward her would strengthen the reasons for not wanting Calder to ruin the family. Calder's three siren sisters were also flat. They are dark and destructive and I longed to get inside their heads and know them better. There was so much potential for these sexy sirens, but alas it was not realized.
- The driving theme of this story was revenge, but once I discovered the motives, I felt that the explanation was weak and it was not sufficient for me to even begin to sympathize with the mermaids and feel they had a case for murdering Lily's father. I was expecting the Hancocks to have committed a heinous crime against the mermaids, and in fact the transgression was nothing that would lead me to root for the mermaids. Creating a stronger motivation behind the revenge would have given the reader more conflict to struggle with, instead I was siding with the Hancocks the entire time.
- The ending ties off and there is no dramatic cliffhanger, but to me it felt a bit hurried and I was left with some disappointments as well as unanswered questions. For instance, why did Maris twist the truth regarding their mother and the Hancock's? What was the purpose of the silver rings around the merpeople's throats? Why was involved with one of Calder's sisters and how did that relationship develop? Also, at the end there is a shocking revelation about one of Calder's sisters. This whole scenario is quickly glossed over and the reader doesn't even get a glimpse of the why and how behind her feelings.
- I felt the entire back story of Calder and his mermaid mother needed way more development. After all she is the driving force behind the sibling's revenge, yet the reader has no idea what kind of relationship she had with her children and what type of mermaid she was. Was she a sultry siren like the sisters, or was she better and more loving? Once the final details came out at the end regarding Calder's mother and Lily's grandfather, I was left hanging, wanting expansion on this part of the story.
Lies Beneath is a unique and different entry into the YA field. It features a male merman waging a war with the monster inside himself as he loses his heart to a human. This book has sirens, revenge, romance and self discovery. It is a solid book, but it lacks the detail that I love in a good read. Still if you are looking for a good mermaid book, I would recommend giving Lies Beneath a try.
"Besides, I was getting a sick thrill out of denying my body what it craved. Self-control was my latest obsession. I doubted my sisters could say the same thing."
"Human beings were the happy, shiny lures that caught our attention. They had what we craved: Optimism. Excitement. Joy. Any positive emotion could whip us into frenzy, compel us to charge, to grab, to absorb the joy from their hearts into our own."
"Maris chose her words like a surgeon chose a scalpel; despite the time we spent apart, she always knew how to cut me."
"My eyes settled on her backside, round and nubile in a black mini skirt, and my stomach twisted like a snake in a jar."
"I memorized her every detail, wondering if she should be my target, wanting her to be my mark."
"It had been overcast all morning, but now the clouds were less of a gray canvas and more like churning ashes."
"The sky darkened like ink spreading through a shirt pocket as the first raindrops hit my bare shoulders."
"My mind clouded over, dark and bleak, battling back the threads of despair that were now woven through me like the wefts and warps on a loom."
"Their bright emotions seeped through their skin and into my own. Like champagne osmosis."
All quotations are taken from an ARC provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.