Book review: 'Of Poseidon' interesting but slightly disappointing

By Lauren Zachary

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, June 9 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

Editor's note: Four debut young adult authors, along with Marissa Meyer, the author of “Cinder,” will be in Salt Lake City on June 11 and Provo on June 12 as part of the Fierce Reads tour. The writers include Anna Banks, author of “Of Poseidon”; Leigh Bardugo, author of “Shadow and Bone”; Jennifer Bosworth, who penned “Struck”; and Emmy Laybourne, with “Monument 14.”

"OF POSEIDON," by Anna Banks, Feiwel and Friends, $17.99, 326 pages (f) (ages 16 and up)

In the young adult book "Of Poseidon," when Emma goes on vacation with her best friend, Cloe, to Florida, she accidentally smashes into Galen, a young man whose eyes are strangely the same color as hers— violet. She instantly feels a connection with him she has never felt with anyone before. But before she can think about it too much, she and Cloe run to the beach to enjoy the last days of summer.

Galen is a Syrena prince who has embarked on a journey to find a girl rumored to have the ability to talk to fish and is living in disguise among the humans. Only the descendants of Poseidon are able to have this ability, and it was thought that the bloodline had ended 80 years earlier. If a descendant of Poseidon is alive, then tradition states that she should marry the heir to the Syrena kingdom — Galen's older brother.

Galen is convinced that Emma is a descendant of Poseidon, but he is surprised when she doesn't realize her heritage or her abilities. This leads them on a quest with Galen's sister, Rayna, to discover how Emma came to be living among the humans, who her parents really are and who else knows about her.

While not usually a huge fan of paranormal novels, but the story line was interesting and mystery/suspense aspects of Emma's heritage and the mysterious mermaid who lurks in and out of shadows are enjoyable. The dialogue was witty and, in places, outright funny.

However, there are a few issues with the novel. First is the graphic and awful death of Cloe early in the novel and how seemingly fast Emma forgets her once she becomes involved with Galen and his sister. Second, a very naive Emma splatters her conversations with an overabundance of "ohmysweetgoodness" every couple pages or so. Third, Galen comes across as an overprotective contriving boyfriend who constantly lies and uses deceit while he decides what is the best course of action to take concerning his feelings for Emma, who should rightfully marry his older brother. The complicated romance between Galen and Emma is more based on their physical attraction for each other rather than truly caring for each other. There are also sexual innuendos with their relationship.

Fourth, the mermaid culture is dominated by males who have little respect for women and their feelings. For example, Rayna is a fiery mermaid who is mated against her will and without her knowledge to her childhood sweetheart.

The book is told in two perspectives: Emma's and Galen's; however, Emma's part is told in first person, while Galen's is told in third, making the novel choppy. The writing at times seems rushed and full of random facts of the history of the mermaid kingdom that don't necessarily fit into the story line. The mysteries of Emma's heritage and the unknown mermaid take a backseat to the story of Emma and Galen's relationship and don't get resolved until the very end.

There is some violence, including Cloe’s death from a shark, and sexual innuedos between Galen and Emma.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book and it was a quick read. Anna Banks is a witty writer and creates an original back plot, even if the main plot is predictable. For readers looking for an easy, enjoyable book, "Of Poseidon" would be a good option.

If you go ...

What: Fierce Reads tour with five young adult debut authors

When: Monday, June 11, 7 p.m.

Where: Salt Lake City Library Main Auditorium, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City

Web:kingsenglish.com

Note: Signing line tickets will be handed out at the door.

Also ...

When: Tuesday, June 12, 7 p.m.

Where: Provo City Library Ballroom, 550 N. University Ave., Provo

Web:www.provolibrary.com

Note: Free event tickets available at the adult services desk.

Lauren Zachary is a recent college graduate from Southern Utah University with an English degree. She works at a local city library while working towards obtaining a master's of library science. She contributes regularly to www.cedarscene.com.

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