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Book Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks Book Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

I know this is terribly cynical of me, but the first thing I wondered when I picked up Of Poseidon'was whether the author had heard of the seven figure deal for Josephine Angelinis Starcrossed (see my review), and had decided to cleverly transpose the latter on to a mermaid setting. Theres something in the writing style, in the setting, and in the relationship between the main point of view characters that for some reason seemed to me to recall Angelinis debut.'Even the cover is not unlike Starcrossed, although admittedly girls in dresses floating/falling/swooning about arent exactly a rarity these days.

Unfortunately, though I had high hopes for this one, being fairly unversed in the whole mermaid subgenre, I had similar issues with Of Poseidon'as I had with Starcrossed.

Of Poseidon'is a tale of star-crossed love between teenaged Emma and the brooding Galen, whom she meets whilst spending a summers day at the beach. Its a fairly memorable meeting as these things go: not only does Emma feel the snap-crackle-and-pop of attraction towards Gale, but her best friend is also mauled to death by a shark. Emma, however, escapes unharmed, somehow spirited to shore by a mysterious force.

Its enough to make Emma wonder whether perhaps shes not quite the regular teenaged girl shes always assumed she was, and after a few flashbacks involving her speaking to fish and being saved from drowning by various piscine creatures, the readers pretty certain that theres something a little unusual going on here. Enter Galen, a violet-eyed syrena youth whos convinced that Emmas natural form involves a tail and some gills. Galen stows his own tail and gills to set up a new life in a swanky abode (complete with swanky sports car), and sets about enrolling himself in all of Emmas classes, following her about and threatening another guy with severe bodily harm for taking Emma out on a date. Ah, a stalker with a propensity towards violence: its everything I want to see in a love interest. Emma promptly falls under Galens spell, and together they set about attempting to determine whether Emma really is just a regular gal, or whether shes truly one of Galens kind.

Im afraid to say that I failed to connect with this one on a number of levels. The writing style, first, feels too modern for the type of story being told, and the combination of present tense with alternating first and third person POV feels terribly jolting and jerky, particularly given that the short chapters mean that were switching POVs with machine-gun rapidity. This alternating POV also means that theres quite a bit of overlap in the narrative, and based on these poor mechanics I found it difficult to become invested in the narrative on any meaningful level. The plot itself is lacklustre, and when the book culminated in a cliffhanger I was a little perturbedit seemed that not enough had happened to be able to justify such an ending.

The syrena mythos, too, is confusing, and I struggled to fully comprehend the meaning of the various houses/factions and what is entailed by belonging to one or another. The discussion of the syrena biology and evolution feels unwieldy, as well, and is introduced through a series of long speeches given by a marine biologist rather than worked into the novel in an organic manner. Also, there are violet eyes. Please, no more violet eyes.

Then theres the hackle-raising relationship issue and the massively problematic portrayal of women in this book. Forced marriages are the norm in syrena culture, with the prevailing attitude being that the involved parties will get used to it. Emma, thankfully, rails against this, at least initially, but then gets involved in a plot to attempt to make a character involved in a forced marriage see that she is actually meant to be with her mate. Emmas also'apparently completely enamoured of Galens mortifying approach to wooing her. Now, I understand that theres something lovely and wistful about being swept off ones feet, but being followed around, having someone waiting outside your window, cut you off from your friends and family, threaten those around you is not exactly what I think of as a healthy relationship. Unfortunately, this idea is being further and further entrenched in the YA paranormal/mythology genre by the idea of mating for life, which somehow equates possession with love (and which I shall explore in a post later this week). This relationship approach is worsened by the fact that Emma is such a passive character: without her relationship with Galen thered be little to define her.

In all, this was a disappointing read for me, and I personally would have preferred a different POV approach and a more restrained approach to the teen romance element. Still,'given the books subject matter and heavy romance plot I dont doubt that it will have widespread appeal.

Rating: star Book Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banksstar Book Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banksblankstar Book Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banksblankstar Book Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banksblankstar Book Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks (okay)

With thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont for the review copy

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  1. Yep. Like you said when you commented on my review of this book, it seems like we had very similar feelings about this. While I think I liked it slightly more than you did, I still had issues with the jerky POVs and especially the relationship dynamics. I really wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into Emma at times!

    • Stephanie /

      Sigh, I know. Why dont these teens parents teach them about what entails a healthy relationship? Subservience is not cool, and not romantic!

  2. Although I didnt love this book, I completely love this review. You have an excellent writing style. Thanks for visiting my blog, if only because Ive discovered yours in return!

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks so much, Kara! I love your blog layout, by the way. :)

  3. Ill be giving this one a miss I think!

    PS Love the new look!

  4. Stephanie /

    Not a bad idea, Shelleyrae! :)

    PS, thanks! Im still doing some tweaking and setting up my menus, etc, but everything should be back to normal soon!

  5. I read the first part of this, but just couldnt muster up the willpower to finish once I saw the direction it was going in. What is it with all the possessive guys in YA? Lies Beneath is another YA mermaid book with a creepy dude. This guy actually watches the girls house from the lake with only his eyes above the water. o_O Anyway, fantastic review, new subscriber here!

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks so much for your lovely words, Amanda. I completely agree with you about these creepy, possessive guys. Twilight and its gothic novel predecessors have a lot to answer for, I think!

      Ive read a few reviews of Lies Beneath and suspect that Id get the heebies reading that one. Im not really much into stalkers!