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Aeicha @ Word Spelunking

Friday, June 1, 2012

Review: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

TITLE: Of Poseidon                   SERIES: Of Poseidon #1
AUTHOR: Anna Banks           PUB: Feiwel & Friends
PUB DATE: 5/22/12               FORMAT: ARC, 324 pgs
SOURCE: from pub in exchange for honest review

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.



MY REVIEW: Writing a negative review is never easy, especially when you wanted so badly to love the book. If you’ve read my reading updates for this book on Goodreads  then you’d notice that it kind of brought my snarky out. However, as I write this review I’d tried very hard to keep that snarkiness (no matter how fun it may be) out of it and simply write an honest, respectful review of a book that just wasn’t for me…I really hope I’ve accomplished this. This is also a very long review (I have A LOT to say!), so I understand if you skip to the end ;)

Emma and Galen run into each other on the beach in Florida…literally. Emma has never met anyone has attractive as Galen and Galen as never felt a pull to anyone the way he does to Emma. But they part ways; at least Emma thinks they do. After a tragic event, Emma heads home to the Jersey Shore and Galen follows. Why? Because Galen is a Syrena (merman) and he believes Emma is one too. But not just any Syrena, but a special one who possesses the gifts of Poseidon. The two groups of Syrena are at odds and Emma may just be the key to peace, so Galen sets out to discover the truth. But he never expects to fall in love with her, especially when doing so could spell disaster.

As you can probably tell from above, I didn’t love Of Poseidon by Anna Banks. There were just too many issues that didn’t work for me that kept me from truly enjoying it. But before I get to those, I want to discuss the things I did like…

Humor. The book is really quite funny. Emma especially has a very quick, sarcastic laugh-out-loud humor that I found entertaining. Banks also does a good job of placing these humorous moments in the perfect spots. The humor never feels forced or out of place.

Supernatural elements. When it comes to mermaids, there doesn’t seem to be too many variations on their world/culture/society, but with the Syrena, Banks has actually created a very fresh and interesting take on the world of mermaids.  I just wish that there had been more development of this world (more on this below).

Land Setting. When I think of mermaid stories, I tend to think of them taking place on the shores of Cali or Florida or some tropical island. Rarely do I think of the Jersey shore. But I like that Banks chose an unexpected setting for her story.

Now, we get to the things that didn’t work for me…

Plot. The plot moved slowly and seemed to meander. Sure, there was a distinct Point A and Point B to the storyline, but not a whole lot of plot with substance seemed to happen in between getting from one to the other. Things definitely happened- some romance, some fighting -but there is little action and development. And there’s a great deal of contrived and convenient plot, such as the two main characters needing to pretend to date in order to keep Emma’s mom from being suspicious as to why the two are spending so much time together. And pretending to date obviously includes making out in places that her mom can see…because obviously nothing comforts a mother more than witnessing her daughter swap spit with a hot boy (okay, so maybe not all my snark is gone).

World Building. With a potential setting such as THE WHOLE FRIGGIN OCEAN I expected lush, vivid underwater scenes. There weren’t any, which is a shame because I think they really would have created a very dimensional and layered world. Now, of course the author may simply be waiting until book two to explore the Syrena world, which I totally understand. But the characters spend enough time in the ocean in this book to warrant more description. Emma’s world on land wasn’t very developed as well. She lived with her mom, went to school, came home: no job, seemingly no friends, no social life really. It just feels like both worlds were lacking.

The Syrena Culture. As I stated above, I liked the supernatural elements regarding the Syrena and the idea of this group of beings being divided into two distant groups (and why they’re divided) is pretty intriguing. However, there are aspects of this culture that personally bugged me. The Syrena seem to be a male dominated society, with the men very much in charge. Male Syrena pick their mates and the women have no say. Now, I totally get that this is simply their culture and society and that the author did this to create obstacles for our heroine and ultimately creating the makings of a serious choice she’ll eventually have to make. But my understanding can only go so far and controlling, obsessive and violent tendencies can only hold my interest for so long.

Characters. If I can’t connect with or even like the characters (even a little bit) then even an awesome story idea is going to be wasted on me. Emma, our heroine, started off easy to like: she’s funny, cutesy-clumsy, not mean spirited or conceited, in fact she was once voted sweetest girl and nicknamed Sugar. But then she meets Galen, and his sister Rayna, and all of a sudden she’s nasty-snarky, has a big temper and even throwing people through windows. Where’d Sugar go? But, I continued to like her because she didn’t allow Galen to boss her around and she wanted to go to college and make her own choices instead of being an obedient house-wife(fish). Basically she was all grrrl-power and I loved it! Then she fell in love with Galen and he fell in love with her and kiss-kiss eyelash flutter and all of sudden she’s that girl, the girl she never wanted to be *le sigh*

Then there’s Galen. Hot, controlling, bossy Galen. I think many readers will swoon for him and I get it, I really do. But he does nothing for me and honestly, I didn’t really like him. He doesn’t really evolve much throughout the story when it comes to the controlling Syrena ways (more about that below under Romance). 

And I  could have done without: 1) The self-deprecating attitude in Emma (I’m not hot, I’m so clumsy, why would he ever want me?) and 2)The very many allusions to Galen’s extreme Adonis hotness (his sculpted abs, his succulent lips, his wafting scent).

Rayna- what can I say about Rayna? She was a bitch, then she wasn’t. I didn’t like her either way. Toraf? Galen’s BFF and Rayna’s BFF was likable, funny even, and I think I would have really loved him if it wasn’t for the whole “forcing Rayna to be his mate” thing *shrugs*. Emma’s mom?  One minute she was scary paranoid and strict, then the next minute she let Emma fly to Florida with Galen and stay at his house till 4am. Umm, okay?

Romance. There are two romances in this book: Emma/Galen and Rayna/Toraf. Neither are remotely healthy are romantic. Rayna hates Toraf, is violent towards him and then, at the first sign of his attention wandering, she all of a sudden lurves him? Emma and Galen’s romance is just wrought with So. Much. Wrong. The whole “she loves him but he doesn’t know it and he loves her but she doesn’t know it” thang is relentless and made me wanna:

But my biggest issue with this romance is how obsessive and volatile it is. There’s a big difference between “I love him so much and wanna spend every moment with him” and “I love him more than anything, he’s the most important thing in the world, he’s my life now”. And Galen is so possessive that he actually threatens physical harm to a very sweet, nice, genuine guy that likes Emma (this is also the moment I lost all respect for Emma) and basically stalks the girl. I certainly have NO issue with an obsessive love being portrayed; my issue is with such a relationship being romanticized and presented as something swoon-worthy. It’s not romantic or sweet or desirable…

Predictability. I chose to finish the book because I had heard that the book ended with a shocking cliffhanger. I found the ending pretty predictable and less a cliffhanger and more simply abrupt, as if it were rushed.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: (just a few more I promise!). While humorous and offering a new and refreshing take on the supernatural, too many things in Of Poseidon just did not work for me. I wouldn’t continue with the series, but I would certainly read other works by the author. 


Find the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Purchase: Amazon / B&N / Book Depository


Ivana said...

Awesome review! I also become all snarky when I read a bad book, but you did a great job providing pros and cons. I love the gifs :D
Have a great day!

Ivana @ WTSL.

Anna @ Literary Exploration said...

Awh, I'm definitely sad you didn't enjoy this one!! I, personally, loved it, but I can understand why you wouldn't. It's all about subjectivity! Thanks for writing an honest review :)

Anna @ Literary Exploration

Aeicha @ Word Spelunking said...

Ivana and Anna: thanks for checking out my review and for the kind comments :)