Review: ‘Of Poseidon’ by Anna Banks

Review: ‘Of Poseidon’ by Anna BanksOf Poseidon by Anna Banks
Series: The Syrena Legacy #1
Genres: Fantasy, Legends, Myths, Fables, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Published by Macmillan on 2012-05-22
Format: Paperback
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Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...

Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.

This book definitely surprised me! While I was expecting your average mermaid tale, what I got was a fierce and funny story featuring the Syrena. Of Poseidon is witty and light — so it was the perfect vacation read for me!

Though I usually find it distracting to read on planes, this book drew me in within the first few pages. Between Anna Banks’ humorous writing and the great dialogue, I liked all of the characters from the get-go. 

Emma is especially brilliant, definitely ranking as one of my more preferred MC’s. The reader gets to see a lot of Emma’s internal dialogue (which is hilarious, by the way), but I was never annoyed by her. She strikes a fine balance between bewildered and taking-things-in-stride when it comes to accepting her possible Syrena heritage, managing to be appropriately confused while also keeping her calm. This really made Emma stand out to me among the crowd of YA MC’s that completely flip out when they discover they might be a little more than human. Of course, her fiery temper and desire to do exactly what people tell her not to just because it irks her also make her a little bit of a rebel and all the more likable.

Rayna, Galen’s sister, is quite belligerent and has a temper that puts Emma’s to shame. Rayna provides for some of the funniest scenes in the novel, whether she is teasing her brother or attempting to fend off the advances of her accidental fiancé, Toraf, though she doesn’t find him as completely detectable as she makes out (it’s a long story). She definitely rocks her secondary character status and adds some spice to the novel.

And then we arrive at the love interest, Galen. Ah, Galen, you are the perfect guy — but perhaps too perfect? The boy possesses rock-hard abs, violet eyes, super-speed, a considerable amount of concern for Emma’s well-being, and a pretty strong protection instinct. Sometimes he really come across as too good to be true — but to be fair, he isn’t really your average teenage human anyway. As he enrolls in high school to try to stick around town and convince Emma of her heritage, the contrast between him and other guys his age is even more startling. While he does have his humanizing moments (failing at his math homework, for instance), and his frustration with Emma is understandable and even endearing, he still seems unbelievable at times.

But when it comes to romance, oh boy does this book deliver. However unbelievable Galen make come across at times, his chemistry with Emma is obvious — as a matter a fact, it’s even legendary. Yes, the intense attraction these two is called ‘the pull’ among the Syrena, and is thought to attack one’s true mate, though it is said to be myth. Due to royal obligations their romance is forbidden, but that doesn’t stop these two from falling for each other, though they stubble to fight their feelings.

Though it pains me to do so, I feel that a connection to this book must be brought up. I saw a few too many parallels between Galen and Emma’s romance to Edward and Bella’s in Twilight.  Not in the sense that it wasn’t original per se, but that it brought up some things that nagged me just as when I read Twilight. Forbidden romance, a chemistry that is impossible to resist (practically written into their DNA), guy who is not in high school enrolling just to stalk (okay, maybe a bit harsh) the girl, guy with an extreme protection instinct… these elements to their romance had me worried that they would turn out to be another Edward and Bella in an unrealistic and possibly unhealthy romance.

But really, I had nothing to worry about. Galen and Emma ARE NOT Edward and Bella because of their drastically different personalities that change their love story into something different (and much better). In retrospect, I’m kinda embarrassed two compare the two (but really, my brain couldn’t help it! There were just so many similarities). Galen has a rather positive attitude about everything, and I’m not sure he could pull off brooding and silent even if he tried. And Emma, of course, is anything but passive and would be disgusted with herself if her life became unlivable without Galen. Emma’s spunk and refusal to comply with Galen’s orders really won me over and made their romance unique.

I also loved the twist that Banks added that made Of Poseidon different from most ‘mermaid’ books. Though not explicitly Greek mythology, the Syrena are divided into to houses, with one descending from Poseidon and the other from Triton. Tons of history is also spun into the story (Banks is obviously a history buff!). Ever wondered about the lost city of Atlantis or wished to visit the shipwreck of the Titanic? Let’s just stay that you’ll love this book.

A great romance, a kick-ass and hilarious MC, elements of history/mythology, and an ending that completely surprised me. Odds are that I’ll be checking out the sequel!

Review: ‘Perfect Ruin’ by Lauren Destefano

Review: ‘Perfect Ruin’ by Lauren DestefanoPerfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles #1
Genres: Dystopian, Fantasy, Legends, Myths, Fables, Realistic Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2013-10-01
Format: Hardcover
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On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in her best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

I. Loved. This. Book. Period.

But since I can’t just leave my review at that, I guess I have to continue.

Morgan lives in the floating city of Internment, which was said to have been raised into the air by the god of the sky to punish the humans whose demands of the gods never seemed to end. Life on Internment is safe, comfortable, and without jealousy or greed. A person may choose any path in life, but no one can approach ‘the edge’ or attempt to reach the ground. But for Morgan, Internment seems to get smaller everyday as her yearning to know about ‘the ground’ grows. When the first murder in a generation occurs, it sets off a spiraling series of events that opens Morgan’s eyes to the truth about the city that is her whole world.

I was enchanted by the city of Internment, which coincidentally reminds me of another floating city (I know, how many can there be?) called Laputa from Hayao Miyazaki’s film Castle in the Sky, which apparently has its own roots in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

The world building in Perfect Ruin is both spectacular and captivating. Internment, having existed separately from ‘the ground’, has over time developed its own religion, history, and culture that I absolutely loved reading about. Many of Internment’s practices also stem from its need to conserve space and resources, as the ‘island’ is quite small. I had no trouble reading on as I found out all about Internment’s customs, from assigning betrothals (engagements) at birth, the ‘birth queue’ that couples must join to be allowed to have a child, the ‘Festival of Lights’ (a sort of Christmas holiday) and so on.

None of the other elements of the book disappoint, either; the characters are the next-best thing about Perfect Ruin. Morgan is compassionate and always trying to take care of everyone else in her life, yet knows when she needs to rely on and confide in others. While she starts off as naive, she slowly becomes aware of the true nature of life on Internment and is anything but passive as she strives for justice. Her best friend Pen has her own distinct personality, beliefs, and problems, and her friendship with Morgan is believable and strong. Basil, her betrothed, knows Morgan perhaps better than she knows herself, and loves and supports her through all her troubles and fantasies about ‘the ground’. Even Lex, her older brother who is now blind and bitter after being a ‘Jumper’, is so dear to Morgan as he reminds her of herself and her own struggles. All in all, there is not a character that I didn’t like in this book, and they all add to the story.

As for the plot, I was never bored. Internment quickly becomes a less-than safe place, and crimes and mistrust abound. So many elements of the story begin to come together in the later parts of the book, and I enjoyed the many plot-twists. By the end I was an emotional ball of nerves, quickly flipping through the pages to find out what would happen. And with the way the book ended, there is no doubt that I will be reading the sequel.

Destefano’s artful and poetic writing was really just an added bonus to an already great book. Her beautiful prose added to my sense of wonder about Internment and gave the book a whimsical and dreamy tone.

A must read! I enjoyed the creative world-building. No part will disappoint!