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Move Over, Vampires! A Review of Everblue by Brenda Pandos

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Cover courtesy of Amazon.com

Vampires are cool, but I always thought it was creepy to fall for a creature that drinks blood for sustenance. I mean, really. However, mermaids and mermen are a totally different story. That’s what Brenda Pandos’ book Everblue is all about, with a healthy dose of adventure thrown in. Now on to the good stuff:

Everblue clocks in at 305 pages and is aimed at a younger YA audience; I’d say 12- to 16-year-olds. It’s written from two points of view: regular high school student Ashlyn Lanski (Ash) and home-schooled teenage merman Finley (Fin). Ash is best friends with Tatiana, Fin’s twin sister. They grew up together on the shore of Lake Tahoe.

Ash is the high school swim captain and has a secret crush on Fin, not knowing he’s a merman. He knows that one kiss from his lips would seal them together for eternity, so he tries to avoid a relationship. Most merpeople avoid all contact with humans, but Fin and Tatiana love living on land. There’s just one problem: the mer king is ordering merpeople to start preparing for a war with humans and has a hidden grudge against Fin’s parents.

There are several points in favor of Everblue, namely that Ash, even though she has a crush on Fin, is not completely obsessed with him. She enjoys the company of other guys at the school and lives a normal life. Also, Pandos does an excellent job writing the story from Ash’s point of view—I was really able to get inside her head! I also enjoyed the lore and history of merpeople and the way their world worked. It wasn’t perfect but it made sense and it was consistent.

The novel also includes intrigue and fighting among the merpeople, but the violence doesn’t escalate to gruesome levels. This was refreshing because a lot of YA novels nowadays go for shock factor (case in point: Hunger Games). Pandos kept it realistic and tense. Anyway, keep this in mind in case you’re looking for something edgier, but for those who enjoy a good, clean YA, this is it. The only issue I had with the book was how rapidly the chapters changed perspective; at times I think Pandos could’ve had 2 or 3 chapters from one character before moving to the other, but that’s just me.

This book deserves 4.5 stars. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Much ado about Eden and Big-Eared Dinosaurs: A review for Eden at the Edge of Midnight, by John Kerry

I’ll be the first to admit that I like dinosaurs. I also like reading books from authors who aren’t American. Those are just two points in favor of John Kerry’s Eden at the Edge of Midnight, a young adult fantasy dropping in at 348 pages.

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Cover image courtesy of Amazon.com

Now I’m going to tell you something straight-up: this book is only technically young adult because the main character, Sammy, is sixteen. The psyche of this girl, however, is a lot closer to a thirteen or fourteen-year-old. Just wanted to let you guys know that up front in case you can’t stand young protagonists. Okay, now on to the good stuff:

The plot is that Eden was separated from earth and its own atmosphere is slowly going bad. Sammy manages to get launched from earth to Eden in fulfillment of a prophecy. The thrust of the story is she doesn’t know what part she plays. That mystery is what makes the book good—I liked not knowing at first whether Sammy was predicted to save the world from certain destruction or become a specter of death. Fortunately, there are clues along the way.

The characters are also colorful and well thought out. Kerry doesn’t just pull stock actors from the closet. Everyone has at least two different motivations for the things they do and they act (as well as react) consistently when plot events are triggered.

Now you’re probably wondering why I didn’t give this book five stars, so here’s the deal: the story needs to be edited! Really badly! The problem isn’t so much with grammar or spelling as it is with parallel structure and loose ends that never get tied up. Kerry leaves a lot hanging at the end of the novel that needs addressing, and the thing is, the first half of the book is only worth three stars while the second half is four or even five stars—it’s like it gets better as it goes! If Kerry would just take a little time and fix things like balancing dialogue with description and making the first half of the book a lot leaner, this would be a five-star novel, no joke. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I recommend Eden at the Edge of Midnight to lovers of fantasy who can power through a slow first quarter.