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Lies Beneath Hardcover – June 12, 2012
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Calder and his murderous mermaid sisters have spent years obsessing over a man named Jason Hancock, who was promised to their family as an infant after their mother saved his father's life. Finally Hancock has moved back to the shores of Lake Superior with his family to take up residence in his old house. Unfortunately, a lifetime spent listening to his father tell horrific yet improbable tales of "monsters" has made him wary of the water. Calder is dispatched, disguised in human form, to lure one of Hancock's daughters to the water instead, to be used as bait. Calder selects the elder daughter, beautiful Lily, and needless to say he quickly becomes distracted from his mission. The romance that ensues feels familiar, with a merman in place of other supernatural creatures du jour. Calder is amazingly handsome and alluring (due to his merman powers), while there is something different about Lily, who seems to have a special connection to the water. As narrator and romantic hero, Calder is problematic, not just because he is a self-confessed serial killer (though he feels bad about it, or at least he has mixed feelings), but also because he is a total wimp, constantly being bossed around by his sisters and whining about the cold water. A few plot twists keep the story going, and a sequel is in the works.-Eliza Langhans, Hatfield Public Library, MAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
About the Author
ANNE GREENWOOD BROWN grew up sailing the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior, leaning over the rail and wondering, with a lake that big, that ancient, what amazing thing might flash by. Now she knows. Lies Beneath is her first novel.
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I was looking for a new Paranormal creature to love and thought that could be found within the pages of Lies Beneath. But you know what I found? The same old story we've all read before over and over again. The truth is this isn't a badly written book, but there is nothing special about it that sets it apart from your usual Young Adult fair (I wish I had written my review as soon as I finished the book because it is very forgettable). Take out the mermaids and inset your favorite paranormal creature and you'll find you've been around this rodeo before.
Lies Beneath tells the story of Calder White, a merman, who along with his three sisters, attempt to plot a man's murder. The man, Jason Hancock, is believed to have been the cause behind their mother's death, so naturally they seek revenge. In order to get closer to Hancock, Calder stalks Lily Hancock hoping to befriend her and earn her father's trust. What happens next? He falls in love with her, of course. And the rest, as they say, is history.
This book could have been amazing. It had an interesting premise with evil mermaids that have the ability to transform into human bodies. So if you were wondering how it was possible for mermaids to reproduce... well, there's your answer. Unfortunately, Lies Beneath failed to follow through on a few issues:
Why, oh why do Young Adult authors continue to go down the insta-love path? Before Calder even gets a chance to have a real conversation with Lily, let alone get to know her, love was already being mentioned. It's one thing for him to be physically attracted to her, but an entirely different for his sister to suspect him being in love after just one encounter. They had absolutely no time to develop a relationship, so where did all this magical love come from?
Perhaps some people find it incredibly romantic to be stalked by a paranormal creature. I'm not one of them. I don't care that Calder was stalking Lily because he was on a mission to murder her father. He was a creeper. He literally does nothing but stalk her the entire book. Where does he sleep? In her backyard. Where does her work? At her job. Does he do anything else in the book besides follow Lily around or think about Lily? No. I think her only changed his clothes once or twice throughout the entirety of the book because he is too busy watching Lily day and night.
Then there is the whole business of him finding her delicious. The mermaids in Lies Beneath feed off of human emotions because they can not create their own. So they lure humans into the water and kill them by sucking all their emotions out. I'm going to let you be the judge on if you would like a guy to think of you in this way:
"I'd be trapped with her right at my side for the next several hours--her radiating that succulent sweetness into the air. Tingling on my tongue. Begging to be consumed."
"Once or twice I had the urge to scoop her up and dive over the side of the ferry. But there were too many witnesses."
"What do I look like?"
"It changes, of course, depending on your mood. Today you look like melting orange sherbet. Delicious."
How is that romantic? It is disturbing! Why is this continually romanticized in Young Adult novels? Is it because it's "totally romantic" they way he chooses the girl over his cravings? No, just no. I don't buy that. I will not accept that.
I did not like him at all. Conceded, cocky, pig-headed. I'm not sure why these particular traits are always relied upon when writing from a male PoV, but I grow tired of seeing the same reincarnated characters over and over. When Calder first starts to stalk Lily, he is shocked she isn't immediately taken by him because he's gorgeous and girls usually always fall at his feet without any effort. Of course. But Lily is different and is not impressed with him. So then we have Calder attempting to figure out what's wrong with her because she isn't trying to peel her panties off like everyone else with a pair of ovaries (view spoiler). Gimme a break!
Then there was a really odd scene where Calder is under the sea talking to a dead guy pretending that it's his father. Huh? O_o
I predicted every plot twist well before it happened. Nothing surprised me in this book and I think that is partly because the foreshadowing was poorly done. I feel like they were a little too obvious allowing the reader to figure out what was going on before the characters. This was not irony. Instead, it made the characters appear slow and caused me boredom. I can't even say I'll be picking the sequel up because the ending left me with no desire to continue on with this series.
EDIT: I recently found out book two is told from Lily's pov, so I'm more inclined to give the sequel a shot.
Would I recommend it? No, probably not because I have a feeling this book is one of those "hit or miss" titles. But, I will say that if you are a fan of Hush, Hush, Twilight, Evermore, and Wings this may be up your alley.
ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
More reviews and other fantastical things at Cuddlebuggery Book Blog including a Review War of Lies Beneath!
Calder White came as a complete surprise. At first, he is not someone you would want to encounter. The homicidal tendencies of mermaids is first introduced through him and, I have to say, he is very successful at establishing the lore present in this world. As the story continues, however, it is revealed that there is more to Calder White than meets the eye. He is all at once both less and more than his sisters, which was a really great aspect to his character. Following along as he attains some humanity is fascinating and, at times, moving. Lily Hancock, the catalyst which brings about the changes Calder goes through is both naive and stubborn. At times, I couldn't decide whether to cheer her on or yell at her for some of her decisions. All in all, the entire array of characters present in Lies Beneath made for a truly interesting reading experience.
The pacing is what you might expect from a story of this time. As it takes place in a sleepy town and centers around a plot that requires calculation and a steady build-up, the pace moves along at just the right clip. I didn't feel as though I was being rushed along, nor did I feel bogged down by too many details. The writing was very easy to keep up with. The descriptions of everything from the settings to the people were capable of making these elements easily imagined. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of Calder's journeys underneath the water. They made the story come to life bit by bit until I had a full understanding of everything that was going on in this intriguing world.
Lies Beneath would make for an excellent beach read. Its intriguing premise and entertaining characters make it a great pick for a day of reading whether on vacation or at home. It ended in such a way that left me content and satisfied, which is a definite mark in its favor. These aren't the mermaids you may remember from childhood fairy tales. What you get here is a glimpse at what came before there were things such as Disney's The Little Mermaid. If you enjoy books that incorporate different folklore, then Lies Beneath is definitely one you need to check out.
Obligatory legal statement: This digital review copy was provided to me free of charge by the publisher via Netgalley. No monetary compensation was received in exchange for this fair and unbiased review.
This review originally appeared on my blog, Starting the Next Chapter, on June 21, 2012.