Nerissa Marin hides among teens in her human form, waiting for the day she can claim her birthright—the undersea kingdom stolen from her the day her father was murdered. Blending in is her best weapon—until her father’s betrayer confronts Nerissa and challenges her to a battle to the death on Nerissa’s upcoming birthday—the day she comes of age.
Amid danger and the heartbreak of her missing mother, falling for a human boy is the last thing Nerissa should do. But Lo Seavon breaches her defenses and somehow becomes the only person she can count on to help her desperate search for her mother, a prisoner of Nerissa’s mortal enemy. Is Lo the linchpin that might win Nerissa back her crown? Or will this mortal boy become the weakness that destroys her?
Lost mermaid princess. No, lost alien mermaid princess – how could that not attract me to the book? Technically, she’s not a mermaid since they are like an evolved marine species but you get my drift – the book’s idea itself drew me towards it. With the influx of paranormal titles in the YA industry, the twist on this one – brownie points to the author for blending sci-fi and paranormal well. So, these Aquarathi species live undersea in the Mariana Trench and a have a rumspringa-like rite for the royal heirs – wherein they have to live for 4 years in the human world while blending, learning and steering the human community towards marine protection (I’ll get to that later). Only for Nerissa, the situation is more permanent since her father was murdered and she can’t ascend until she comes of age. Not to mention, her father’s murderer is the one ruling and if she doesn’t take back her crown, she may lose it forever.
First off, I would like to say I liked Nerissa – she is sassy, no-nonsense, knows when to pick her battles and doesn’t create much drama – even though being a teenager she is prone to occasional fits of rebellion. She comes off as arrogant and spoiled at times, but if you were the sole princess whose every whim was catered to from birth, wouldn’t you be too? In the beginning of the book, she feels vulnerable and useless because of her past attitude and her inability to go back and claim her throne. She would prefer living in the human world, but when her enemy brings a challenge to her coast, she can’t back down. Keeping a human cover and avoiding a certain human boy whom she has an intense attraction to – so not easy.
The writing was brilliant and as I said before, I loved the alien theory mixed with an ancient lore. The storytelling was spectacular and the twists in the story kept me hooked. The romance was intense, yes, but fit the storyline. The forgiveness theme played a lot in the book and while I felt the Cara arc didn’t do much for the main plot, it was good for Nerissa’s development. The flirting/banter between Nerissa and Lo is quite entertaining, though the end had me feeling bad for Lo. I was grateful that I didn’t have to choose – a love triangle would have been overwhelming and it’s good that Howard had the foresight to avoid it.
Now, about the role the Aquarathi play – that one had me a bit meh about it. It wasn’t properly explained and I don’t see why only the royal heirs have to do the ambassador business – why can’t some members of the Aquarathi have occasional trips to the land and help foster marine conservation. Considering the health of our oceans is in such dire situations, they can do better than just send their teen heir, like one in a generation – it is too little to contribute, don’t you think?
Overall, I found this to be a great book and I loved the fresh take on the mermaid legends.
Received a copy from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review