Series: Lies Beneath #1(I am currently running a fever and feeling icky in general, so sorry if this review doesn't completely make sense.)
Publisher: Random House Children's
Source: ARC from NetGalley
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.
I love mermaids.
As a child, I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid, and I remember begging my parents for an Ariel costume one birthday (luckily, they did not give in). Anyway, I have long since grown out of mermaid-mania, as I like to call it, but I have to say that I still admire Ariel's perfect complexion and pretty dresses. So when I saw this book on NetGalley, my first reaction was ooh, mermaids! Pretty, charming, bikini-donning mermaids. I MUST GET THIS.
Being the wise one that I am, I did not read the synopsis properly, and little did I realise that the mermaids in the story were not kind, shellfish-befriending creatures, but scary monsters that made killing humans a sport.
The first thing I noticed while reading this story was the remarkable similarities between the portrayal of mermaids and vampires. While vampires crave blood and most books claim they will go crazy without it, mermaids in this book crave human emotions and will go crazy without it. This began to annoy me a little further into the story as I realised how similarly these mythical creatures were being described. However, I did like the idea of creepy evil mermaids, and it was an interesting addition to the story. Mermaids are far from overused in paranormal/fantasy stories, and I'd love to see some other similar stories being written.
The author paints a very dark picture of what mermaids are really like, and despite the mermaids not really creeping me out, I did like the juxtaposition in the story--it's set in a nice town with a pretty lake, and yet within this beautiful lake lies deadly creatures. Despite enjoying the setting, I thought there should've been far more backstory with the mermen/mermaids. We learn how they are created later on in the story during a slight info-dump, but I want to know more about the history of mermaids, stuff about mermaid lore, things like that, since I haven't explored this sub-genre before. Hopefully, the author will delve further into the mermaid-world in the next book and explain a little more.
The characters were likeable for the most part, if not rather bland. However, I have to give credit for the main love interest, Lily. It's sad that an overwhelming majority of YA authors portray stalking by a male character as romantic these days, and luckily for readers, Lily actually notes that Calder is stalking her and finds it mildly disturbing, which is more than what I can say for many other fictional girls. The only thing that didn't exactly make sense in this relationship was the mild sprinkling of insta-love potion. At times, Calder's obsession seemed to blur into love and vice versa, so I was scratching my head for a good portion of the story as I tried to figure out whether the romance was ~true love~ or stalking.
(Also: The sisters were so cool. They were evil, scheming, and awesome. Kudos to the author for adding them in.)
I did enjoy the male POV, as you don't get many of them in YA, and I did enjoy Calder's confusion as he tried to figure out exactly what attracted girls. Although he was slightly cocky and the narrative did come across as arrogant or annoying at times, it was quite enjoyable, and despite not knowing how authentic the voice was, it was a refreshing change.
Overall, Lies Beneath isn't something I would necessarily buy, but it was a fairly decent read. With slightly two-dimensional characters and romance bordering on obsession, but a great setting and sensible love interest, I'd give this book three stars. Recommended for lovers of stalky romance (e.g. Twilight fans), creepy-cool mermaids, and stories with waterside settings.