What better way to kick off the summer than with a book about mermaids! While this definitely was not one of my favorites, I had a fun time reading it. For the next coming weeks, expect some similar light, fluffy reads! Kelvin introduced me to this book actually, his review is here as well.
- Of Poseidon
- Anna Banks
- Square Fish
- April 30, 2013
- Kelvin: 3 stars
- Jane: 2 stars
“Galen, a Syrena prince, searches land for a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. It’s while Emma is on vacation at the beach that she meets Galen. Although their connection is immediate and powerful, Galen’s not fully convinced that Emma’s the one he’s been looking for. That is, until a deadly encounter with a shark proves that Emma and her Gift may be the only thing that can save his kingdom. He needs her help―no matter what the risk.”
Of Poseidon is probably the funniest book I’ve read this whole year and as an added bonus, we got mermaids which I’ve never read about in any YA novel! We follow Emma and Galen as they uncover Emma’s backstory and abilities but we also get plenty of relationship cuteness and drama blended in. There are problems with characterization and the plot that need to be addressed but on the whole, I did like this book.
Even though this book is about mermaids, we still get the tropes of the YA PNR Genre. You know what actually, Of Poseidon’s major points are really similar to Forbidden like with the two perspectives, the thing about the girl’s parents (not going to give away any spoilers), and the whole really hot supernatural guy comes to school and is instantly attracted to the supernatural girl who doesn’t actually know she’s special thing. Still, it’s nice to see something besides Angels and Werewolves and Vampires even if the plot is kind of the same.
Galen and Emma first meet during the summer at the beach. This is where the first problem of the book comes in, not with their interaction, but with this shark attack right within the first chapters of the book. It would be okay if the tragedy was used to fuel a change in the actions of the protagonist but it wasn’t, instead the attack and its aftermath was really just a device for the discovery of Emma’s powers and a source of pity towards her as well. There could have been so much more meaning and impact as a result of this opening event and I think its potential was wasted on furthering the wrong thing.
Then there is the high amount of misogyny that pervades the syrena culture. Syrena males, when they turn eighteen, pick a mate to produce offspring with and the females get no say in whether or not they want to be in the relationship. Additionally – and I don’t know if this is for all syrena or not – Galen is looking for a mate who will basically be subservient to a T for him which, for obvious reasons, is pretty offensive. The sexisim is slightly redemeed (that’s totally not the right word but oh well) by Emma being totally repulsed by it and Rayna actively fighting to maintain her free will. But in the Emma just kind of accepts it and once Rayna settles down with Toraf, she also loses that drive. As a theory, I think that the author was maybe making syrena culture like this on purpose to complement how they sometimes refuse to accept the world in the 21st century and to further their contrast with the humans. If this is the case, I suppose that it’s a bit more forgivable.
Besides those points, the rest of the book I really liked. I know some people have complained about how aggressive and possessive Galen was but I chalked it up to his culture where they are highly sexist. Sometimes, it even translated into him being incredibly caring for Emma. I liked their relationship even though there was the whole problem with Emma having to mate with Grom. I was totally rooting for there to be some loophole that allowed Emma and Galen to actually be together (not sorry at all). And then near the end when they have the big breakup thing, the aftermath was kind of a mess with literally every girl trying to get with Galen and him stalking down Emma, but since they basically got back together in the end, I let it slide (call me shallow, i don’t care XD). One thing about relationships that felt off to me was how well the hard-to-get scheme worked for both Toraf and Rayna and Emma and Galen. Would it really happen like that in real life with both of the couples instantly becoming a thing?
Anyways, I also appreciated the attempts made at having scientific explanations for thing, e.g. gravity and the rate of biological clocks, and even though it wasn’t realistic (you would need a lot of gravity to slow down your heart that much), especially the eye color thing, on the surface everything made sense logically which was nice. I also enjoyed the mythology (if you can call it that) behind the syrena, not only their history but also the geography (also probably not the right word, man my internal dictionary needs help today) of their underwater world. Though it isn’t explained all the way, I do hope that the next couple of books can build upon this world building (seriously, where are you internal dictionary).
Finally, I just need to share the quotes that I found funny. Most of them stem from the fact that the syrena are completely out of the loop on human society. The best I think is at this https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/820758-we-both-know-dad-was-my-parental-trash-can-the
Here’s another one:
Dating? What is dating again? He tries to remember what Rachel told him. She said it’s easy to remember because it’s almost the same as… What is the rhyme for it? And then he remembers: “it’s easy to remember because dating rhymes with mating and they’re almost the same” she’d said. He blinks at Emma. “Your mom things we’re mat.. uh dating?”
Emma nods then shakes her head. “Dating yes, but she thinks we’re uh more than dating”
“Oh” he says “thoughtfully.” Then he grins. “Ooh” the reason her lips are turning his favorite color is because Emma’s mom thinks they’ve been dating and mating.
Though there were annoying errors and plot points that I couldn’t over look, the laughs that I got out of this book make up for it. Of Poseidon feels like a first book of a series. Much of the background of the world is set out and the characters from their initials bonds and sets the scene for the rest of the series. The ending did surprise me and left enough hanging that I’m intrigued for how the next book will turn out.
Before I begin, let me say that I thought this was an enjoyable read (it has some of the most amusing sentences I’ve seen in YA fiction thus far). However, I felt there were key flaws… flaws significant enough to justify a 2 star rating.
Number one issue: what was up with the point of view? Emma’s chapters were written in first person, and Galen’s chapters in third. That inconsistency in itself was highly irritating, but even worse, the point of view occasionally changed within the chapter. This should never be done, and while it did not directly impact the development of the story, it undoubtedly took away from my reading experience.
Humor was Anna Banks’ saving grace. Banks has a talent for incorporating quirky humor into her characters’ thoughts and dialog, and had me smiling to myself plenty of times throughout the book. As a result, the interactions between characters were remarkably well done.
However, I felt the actual relationships were weak. A paradox almost, to have great chemistry but shallow relationships, but I find it to be true quite frequently in this genre. Let me explain: I like getting to know each character separately before I see them together. Without insight into the characters individually, I don’t feel invested in their relationship together. And in Of Poseidon, we are restricted to seeing one character only in the context of the other. There was no slow build up (Emma smacks her face onto Galen’s bare chest on the first page, for goodness’ sake); from the moment you open the book, it’s almost as if Emma and Galen are an item. Perhaps, I’m alone in this sentiment, but that didn’t work for me. I admit the spark was there. I guess I just never got caught up in the fire.
Final note: there is a plot twist in the beginning. It is awful. And completely unnecessary. There is also a plot twist at the end. Also awful. And totally random.