Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
Release Date:
June 12th 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

Lies Beneath is like a sugar cookie. I like sugar cookies. They're buttery, sweet, and simply pleasant. But let's face it. A sugar cookie just isn't comparable to a chocolate chip cookie with its chiaroscuro-ish balance between the sugary dough and the bitter, rich, sweet chocolate chips. Chocolate chip cookies covers the whole flavor profile, giving it a complex taste that a sugar cookie lacks. I'll eat sugar cookies if they're the only thing around (and probably before an oatmeal raisin cookie), but they're just not as good. What exactly do I mean by that extended simile? I enjoyed Lies Beneath. It's a fun story, but lacking in substance of world building and some plot elements that could take it to the next level.

My favorite thing about Lies Beneath was the mermaid interpretation. It's more in line with traditional mermaid mythology. Think vampires with gills. Mermaids are killers, who devour humans' positive emotions rather than their blood or bodies. Culturally, mermaids resemble fish as much as humans. Your original family is a "school" that you can't leave even if you want to. You are compelled to migrate to your home waters each spring, much like salmon. It's a fascinating concept, but Lies Beneath fails to develop the mythology. How common are mermaids? We learn that humans can be changed into mermaids or born into it. How often does this happen? Why did it happen with Calder? There's question after unanswered question. It made the story feel one dimensional.

At first glance, Calder seems like a simple character, but you can read a lot into him. He's not overly nice or mean. He's not particularly empathetic. What he is definitely is stubborn. His stubbornness keeps him from killing humans for months on end, because he wants to believe that he can hold out. His stubbornness keeps him separated from his sisters who he both loves and hates, at least partly because he resents being compelled to join them every spring. His stubbornness attracts them to Lily, because she has no interest in him. His stubbornness pushes him to pursue Lily as relentlessly as a shark until she has no choice but to fall in love with him. While I can't say that I really liked Calder, I understood him. I felt bad that he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. His sisters literally rule his life. He's caught in an unrelenting net.

I had more trouble getting a read on Lily. She is laid out as a rebel who gets a line of poetry tattooed on her back. She wears crazy Victorian inspired outfits and spends her free time reading and writing poetry. She doesn't care what anyone thinks. She's stand-offish, but at the same time syrupy nice and deeply devoted to her family. As I'm writing this, it sounds like she's a great character. And she is, but as I was reading it, I sometimes felt like Lily was a different person depending on what was happening in the book. I especially disliked the insta-love between Calder and Lily. For all she holds herself out to be independent, she sure capitulated to his nagging, semi-braggy "you know you like me" attitude quickly. (On a slightly off note, I also disliked Calder's creepiness-tinged stalking of Lily).

The plot of Lies Beneath is like a lazy river with the occasional boulder in the middle. It moves slow and steady, but has a few dead stops. I love the concept that Calder builds a relationship with a girl to lure her father to his death, but falls in love with the girl instead. It's not a revolutionary plot line, but it's hard to go wrong with that kind of conflict. And it's handled well. There are a few surprises along the way, some good romantic moments between Calder and Lily, and a very interesting and screwed up family dynamic between Calder and his sisters. Thoroughly enjoyable. I suppose my main frustration with the book is that, while it's good, I feel like it could have been so much better with a bit more world development, less insta-love, and the addition of whatever intangible quality is necessary to make me believe the story. To forget that mermaids don't exist and that Calder and Lily aren't actually hanging out on the shore of Lake Superior. Lies Beneath almost gets there, but doesn't crest that final wave.

Rating: 3 / 5

20 comments :

  1. I'm glad you still enjoyed this book despite a couple of things. I, on the other hand, LOVED this book. I'm really looking forward to the sequel which is going to be told in Lily's POV I believe . . . so can't wait for that.

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  2. Hm... insta-love... it's used so often, but it's more interesting and fascinating when love grows! I'm being honest and don't think this would be a book for me although I found a recent excitement about mermaid stories....

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  3. I love your comparison to a sugar cookie, very clever, hun! I've heard very mixed reviews of this but it does sound like it's worth a read!

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  5. LOL--love the sugar cookie metaphor! I do like a good, soft sugar cookie but I much prefer oatmeal raisin or double chocolate chip. Much more depth. At least there's not insta-love. Still, I think this one's a maybe.

    (Sorry about the deleted comment--I woke up way too early and mis-wrote it!)

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  6. I think that I still want to read this one. It might be a good summer read for me!

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  7. What? There's insta-love in this book? I thought Calder was going to go slow while he gained her trust, you know, so he can kill her later. What the hell with insta-love. Crap. Oh well. Thanks for letting all of know. :D

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  8. Great review Alison!! I have this one on my kindle and I have been debating about reading it or not. I think I'm going to wait till it's beach weather and then I can read it at the beach!

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  9. I had similar feelings on this one Alison! I loved the murderous mermaid aspect and the mythology, but I couldn't quite get on board with either Calder or Lily. I wanted to like both of them much more than I did, and I didn't truly believe in their love (maybe it was because it was instant like you said). Still, the premise was solid and it kept me turning the pages:)

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  10. I felt the same way too but I enjoyed the murderous aspect of the mermaids. Lily was the wild card but Calder I enjoyed and his sisters. Loved the last line of your review along with the suger cookie

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  11. I really like how your present the book. Nice idea. I agree with you about some points it's true, but for my first mermaid book, I was happy it was this one.

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  12. Great review! I loved the way you compared the novel to sugar cookies :) I haven't read Lies Beneath yet but it is on my TBR pile. I still think I will enjoy this novel, although not as much since after reading your review I found somethings that I won't enjoy either, like the insta-love.

    Nevertheless, great, great review!

    Rachel @ Books to Consider

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  13. my thoughts exaxtly
    i loved calder but that was it
    gr8 review
    darn you making me crave cookies

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  14. I loved mermaid stories. Too bad this one isn't all what you thought it be, I may give it a try since these story pulls me in.

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  15. Hrm the lukewarm reviews make me think that I'll lower this one on the tbr pile. I do like the new spin on the mermaid mythology though.

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  16. I've noticed a lot of mermaid books coming out/that will be coming out soon. New trend?

    Loved your sugar cookie metaphor :) I've read a bunch of not-so-good reviews of this one. I might pass this one up.

    Thanks for the honest review!
    Misa
    Skyway Avenue Reads

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  17. I haven't read this book yet. Like angels, I'm not much interested in reading about mermaids, but I do have to agree that of what was included about the mythology does sound interesting and has so much potential. I would have wanted more details too.

    P.S. I hate oatmeal raisin cookies. LOL

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  18. I think we've all had similar reactions to Lily. Anne explained her case in the interview i did with her. Great review. Very interesting.

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  19. Hhhhhmmm. I'm kinda bummed it wasn't amazing. I have yet to read a mermaid book that blows me away. :/ Thanks for the review!

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