Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

*I received this book as an eArc from Random House via NetGalley. Thank you.

One of the most notable tropes in YA paranormal is the stalker boyfriend. I've never totally understood the popularity of this idea, yet it seems to pop up time and again. It's not even that I blatantly dislike the idea, or that I am looking to make fun of it. Rather, I simply have never felt convinced that the lovers in these stories truly love each other, or at least love each other in an equal way. One character always seems to have a distinct disadvantage that makes me question the relationship.

Lies Beneath caught my attention because it is told from the hero -- rather then the heroine's -- POV. I was curious to see whether this might let me have more insight into the more aggressive of the two characters, whether Anne would be able to convince me of why Calder wanted Lilly since we spend the book looking through his eyes.

Curious to see what I thought of Lies Beneath? Read on and find out.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
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.

What's the best way to get close to someone you want to kill? Seduce his teenage daughter. That seems to be the consensus in Lies Beneath, an interesting take on mermaid mythology with a memorable lead character named Calder White. Considering our "hero's" motivations and intent at the onset of the story, I think I am safe in saying that this is quite a unique perspective for YA, although perhaps not one for the faint of heart. 

Personally, I really loved Anne Greenwood Brown's take on mermaids and felt that the mythology she developed was detailed and interesting. It added to the plot, strengthened the characters and showed a great level of attention to detail. It really helped me buy in to what was going on with Calder and his sisters. While I certainly wasn't "cheering" for them to succeed in their mission, I was intrigued with the workings of their world. 

Unfortunately, I also felt that too much of the time this book was purely about Calder sneaking around and spying on Lilly. It got to a point where I had this old country song going off in my head: "I was looking back to see if you were looking back to see if I was looking back to see if you were looking back at me..." The reliance on this plot device became too much for my tastes and even the interesting mythology / world building could not totally cover it up. 

The Characters: 

As I said in my opening, the drawing factor for me was that we get to see a book about a predatory hero told from that character's perspective. In showcasing the complexity, twisted thoughts and depth of Calder White, the book did not disappoint. There were decisions he made and actions he took that I definitely didn't agree with, but I must say, reading from his POV certainly wasn't boring. I liked the fact that Anne had him questioning things from the go, ensuring he would not lose out on all my sympathy and become unbearable. Yet at the same time, he walked the line between being a guy and being a dangerous creature -- this was done very well.

I wish that I could give this same level of praise to LIlly, but yet again I found that reading from the male POV only has left me with another female lead who just didn't measure up. Perhaps the problem with this setup is that Calder is such an intriguing character, and is so much larger then life, that Lilly just got overshadowed? I did like her relationship with her little sister, though. And I think it is clever how the way they behave parallels what is going on with Calder's family.

And the three mermaid sisters are the last characters I simply must talk about. They are the reason I am certain it wasn't an inability on Anne's part directly that Lilly and I didn't click. With these three and Calder running around there was just too much "Whoa!" stuff going on for me to focus in her direction. These ladies are bad, bad, bad and I totally loved them for it.

The Romance: 

It's a shame, but of course the fact that I did not like the leading characters equally is something bound to reflect poorly on the romance front. These two were essentially suffering from Bambi vs. Godzilla syndrome, and not so much because 'he has powers', but rather because 'she just wasn't nearly as interesting'. I couldn't really grasp what Calder saw in her. And considering that Lilly is suspicious of him, I don't get how they got to where they did in this book.

In real life, its fine for someone to sit, look at a couple and think: "How did that happen?". In a love story, its the author's goal to show us "How did that happen?". I didn't feel that I really "got" that here. I understood what I read logically, but the problem ends up being I didn't *feel* it.

In General: 

Lies Beneath was a fun read and I'm glad I had the opportunity to check it out. I'd definitely recommend taking a look at it because of the great mythology and interesting narrator. Just know what you're getting yourself into.

So, have you read Lies Beneath? What did you think of it? Are you thinking of reading it? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to leave a comment.


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