Mermaids are popular this year. Very. And the other day I read my first entry into this genre, Of Poseidon by Anna Banks.
Emma is spending the summer at the beach with her BFF when the two of them are attacked by a shark. (Bonus points for a shark attack!) When the merprince Galen goes to intervene, he is too late, but not too late to see something truly amazing: Emma seems to be able to talk to the shark.
Galen packs up and lives life on dry land to figure out what he can about the mysterious Emma, and they both uncover secrets that they could never have imagined. And it seems that they may be falling in love; although if Emma is who Galen thinks she is, she is destined for another.
Anna Banks creates a well developed underwater world with complex rules, well developed structures, and a lore that tweaks what you think you know about mermaids and makes it both fun and intruiging.
Emma is a strong female character who thinks for herself, challenges the merpeople conventions – which are frustrating for a girl like Emma – and wrestles with a variety of complex emotions, including the grief and guilt she feels about the death of her best friend over the summer.
Galen was a frustrating character for the feminist in me because this is a character that is part of a society ruled by tradition and structure, some of which is not very forward thinking – especially when it comes to people in positions of royalty determining their own mate. So it is interesting to see Emma, a typical American teenager, suddenly being told that she is someone other than who she thinks she is and does not have the freedoms that she is used to. Galen and Emma butt heads multiple times as he tries to tell her what to do (seriously – don’t go into the water). This is an interesting concept because it allows for us to have thoughtful conversations about respecting other cultures in very abstract terms.
Teen readers looking for romantic tension will not be disappointed here, although some people who raise valid criticisms about the Edward/Bella relationships may find themselves making the same types of criticisms about Of Poseidon. For example, when Emma goes on a date with another young man, Galen insists that Emma leave with him and will not take no as an answer. To be fair, there are a lot of these same types of conventions in most fantasy fiction presenting royalty, it just was highlighted more because here we have people who are basically strangers telling this young lady who she had to be. And to be equally fair, she was really being assertive and standing up for herself.
I think some of the relationship problems are discussed really well in the review by Katya in Goodread so give it a read. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12425532-of-poseidon
This was an entertaining read and the first part of a new series. There are a couple of interesting twists which should make for a compelling book 2. I haven’t read any of the other new mermaid themed books coming out to compare and contrast them, but I think this will be popular with teen readers and I recommend it. 3 out of 5 stars.