Monday, July 23, 2012

REVIEW: Of Poseidon

Banks, A.  (2012).  Of Poseidon.  New York:  Feiwel and Friends.

324 pages.

Appetizer:  Emma meets Galen when she runs into him on a Florida boardwalk during her summer vacation.  Literally, runs into him.  Cheek to chest.  It's rather embarrassing for her.  Her best friend Chloe makes things worse by teasing her.

But what initially seems like a quick and innocent meeting by chance proves to be the gateway to much more.  Emma has the eyes of the Syrena; a species of sea creatures.  But, somehow, she has no knowledge of what she truly is.  Galen is a prince of the Syrena who is on land for an investigation in the hopes of finding a way to unite his people with humanity.

Galen's strange reaction to Emma is complicated by the fact that she and Chloe are attacked by a shark.  As Emma struggles against a bull shark to save her best friend, she fights harder than a human ever could.

Aware that Emma may prove to be essential to all of his goals, Galen decides to stay close to her, establishing a house in New Jersey to learn more about the unusual 18-year-old.

Before starting the book, I was a little wary of reading Of Poseidon.  I can only handle so much angsty paranormal romance and I think I've already gone well beyond that point.  As I started reading the young adult novel, I was initially pleasantly surprised.  (After I got beyond Emma being clumsy though...that reminded me a little too much of Twilight.)  Aside from the clumsiness, the first chapter included a lot of wonderful humor (this was slightly dampened after the shark attack, but the humor bounced back).  So, I was willing to let the book win me over...that is until more clumsiness and damsel in distree behavior emerged.  Emma literally runs into a door and knocks herself unconscious.  Literally.  Are you kidding me?!

Then there's the moment where she attacks someone--literally fights another character throwing someone against a wall, falling through a glass wall, etc.--over a very insensitive seemed so out of character, I couldn't believe it was actually a part of the plot.  Aaaand the book entered the realm of being too ridiculous for me to lose myself in and truly enjoy.  Banks try to sell some of this off as a quirk of the Syrena, but I just didn't buy it.

Also, since we once again have a love interest who travels across a country, enrolls in school to observe a girl, jokingly considers kidnapping her, senses that their love is biologically necessary, mentions tapping her phones, etc., I had to dust off the old stalker scale:

In the book's defense, Banks does carve out a scene between Emma and her mother in which Emma affirms that she shuns abuse in relationships:
"You two fighting already?"She's fishing, but for what I don't know.  Shrugging seems safe until I can figure out what she wants to hear."Do you fight often?"Shrugging again, I ladle enough oatmeal into my mouth to make talking impossible for at least a minute, which is more than enough time for her to drop it.  It doesn't work.  After the exaggerated minute, I reach for my glass of milk."You know, if he ever hit you--"The glass is mid-tilt, I swallow before the milk can escape through my nose.  "Mom, he would never hit me!""I didn't say he would.""Good, because he wouldn't.  Ever.  What's with you?  Do you have to interrogate me about Galen every time you see me?"This time she shrugs.  "Seems like the right thing to do.  When you have children, you'll understand.""I'm not stupid.  If Galen acts up, I'll either dump him or kill him.  You have my word."Mom laughs and butters my muffin.  "I guess I can't ask for more than that." (pp. 154-155)
I appreciate the effort, but Galen does slap Emma awake thirty pages later after she passes out due to exhaustion (p. 185).  Granted, it could be argued I'm being picky or that the slap probably isn't that hard and could be more of a tap, tap tap, against her cheek...but still, way to send a mixed message there.  Consider choosing words more carefully.

*Vague Spoiler* Then, it got worse.  During a climactic scene, Emma reflects upon her choices, narrating:
"I've turned into "that girl."  Not the one who exchanges her doctorate for some kids and a three-bedroom two-bath, but the other kind.  That girl who exchanges her dignity and chances for happiness for some possessive loser who beats her when she makes eye contact with some random guy working the hot dog stand.Not that Galen beats me, but after his little show, what will people think?  He acted like a lunatic tonight, stalking me to Atlantic City, blowing up my phone, and threatening my date with physical violence.  He made serial-killer eyes, for crying out loud.  That might be acceptable in the watery grave, but by dry-land standards, it's the ingredients for a restraining order." (pp. 291-292)
Having a character acknowledge her $hitty choice is not the same as making a good decision for her own health and future.  *End Vague Spoiler*

Plus, the book ends on a cliff-hanger.  Boo.

I'm back to taking a break from paranormal romance.

Dinner Conversation:

"I smack into him as if shoved from behind.  He doesn't budge, not an inch.  Just holds my shoulders and waits.  Maybe he's waiting for me to find my balance.  Maybe he's waiting for me to gather my pride.  I hope he's got all day.
I hear people passing on the boardwalk and imagine them staring.  Best-case scenario, they think I know this guy, that we're hugging.  Worst-case scenario, they saw me totter like an intoxicated walrus into this complete stranger because I was looking down for a place to park our beach stuff.
 (p. 1)

"The siblings lean on their elbows against the rail, watching the girls they just met peel the T-shirts off their bikinis and wade into the water with the surfboard floating between them.
"She's probably just wearing contacts," Rayna says.  "They make contacts in that color, you know."
He shakes his head.  "She's not wearing contacts.  You saw her just as plain as you're seeing me.  She's one of us."
"You're losing it.  She can't be one of us.  Look at her hair.  You can'teve call that blonde.  It's almost white."
Galen frowns.  The hair color had thrown him off too--before he had touched her.  The simple contact of grasping her arm when she fell dispensed any doubts.  The Syrena are always attracted to their own kind--which helps them find each other across miles and miles of ocean.  Usually that attraction is limited to water transmission, where they can sense the presence of one of their own. He's never heard of it occurring on land before--and never felt it so strongly, period--but he knows what he felt.  He wouldn't--couldn't react that way to a human.  Especially given how much he despises them." (pp. 8-9)

"'Stop!' she yells.
Galen stops.  But Emma's not talking to him.  She's talking to the shark.
And the shark stops.
Emma wraps both arms around Chloe and hugs her to her chest, leaning her friend away from the attack.  "You can't have her!  Leave her alone!  Leave us alone!"
The shark turns, saunters away as if sulking.
Galen gasps.  He watches until the smooth sway of its tail disappears in the distance.  He tries to comprehend it.  Because what he knows, absolutely knows, about bull sharks is that they don't back down." (p. 23)

"'So the humans followed you around, made you feel uncomfortable?'
That's what I just said, isn't it?
Toraf nods thoughtfully.  Then he says, "Imagine how Emma must feel then."
"Think about it.  The humans followed you around a building and it made you uncomfortable.  You followed Emma across the big land.  Then Rachel makes sure you have every class with her. Then when she tries to get away, you chase her.  Seems to me you're scaring her off." (p. 56)

Tasty Rating:  !!

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