Lies Beneath

Lies Beneath - Anne Greenwood Brown Initial reaction: I think my summation for "Lies Beneath" is that there's a lot of surface tension - in the character development, in the ominous situations, among other things, but as I waited for the story to pull me under and immerse me - that point never came.I didn't hate the story at all - there were parts of it that I liked, but in the end - it was a mediocre read for me at best. I hope I can explain my thoughts more in the full review.Full review:I've had a devil of a time trying to expound on my thoughts with respect to Anne Greenwood Brown's "Lies Beneath". I wanted to write a review far before this point, but the words always seemed to slip my mind in terms of why it didn't work for me, or why I think it wouldn't work beyond a certain audience with some considerations in mind. The book itself has an awesome premise, one that might draw many paranormal romance fans as well as those who might be looking for a thrilling story. However, given the structuring of the story and a LOT of inconsistencies/inaccuracies in this book about the area it takes place within, it's difficult to overlook them and still think well of the overarching story.I think my summation for "Lies Beneath" is that there's a lot of surface tension - in the character development, in the ominous situations, among other things, but as I waited for the story to pull me under and immerse me - that point never came. I think some of the strong selling points of Anne Greenwood Brown's debut novel is that it fits snug with the rising trend of YA paranormal romance, offering an interesting take on mermaid mythos. It tells a story of vengeance among a group of mermaids who feed on human emotions, thereby killing them, in order to sustain themselves.The problem is that it doesn't do enough to set itself apart from being a predictable, formulaic foray, despite what I thought was a brilliant premise.Calder White and his sisters stalk the waters of Lake Superior to find Jason Hancock, the descendant of the man responsible for their mother's death. Calder sets forth a plan to integrate himself into the Hancock family and go in for the kill, but ends up falling in love with Jason's daughter, Lily. Calder has to make the decision between carrying out his plans for betrayal (and steeling against his sisters' collective ire) against listening to the senses that tell him how wrong he is.I didn't hate "Lies Beneath" as an overall story, but there were several things that bothered me enough to affect my enjoyment of the book severely, enough to the point where I couldn't overlook its mediocrity. One of them was Calder as a collective character. His voice had a static tone that was hard to connect to in spurts. Even with being unlikable (intentionally at first), there wasn't much substance to him. I expected him to have a lot more range of emotions for going after the family responsible for his mother's death. It was told (more touched upon) rather than shown, and it was hard to find a connection as to his investment of carrying out this particular task. There was far more conviction shown in the pain of Calder's transformation from merman to human than in the plan for revenge, which bothered me.Calder was also a stalkerish, possessive creep for much of the time we observe him. There wasn't really much "love" in his thought process with Lily, even from the very beginning when he's hiding in her bedroom closet or in the bushes - it was more of a one-sided "I have to have her" vibe and I didn't like it at all. He was put off that she didn't instantly fall in love with him, and he was put off whenever she was with another guy. At least Lily had enough sense to call him out on it. Lily isn't a pushover character. I really liked her personality wise, not so much for the romance because the romance overall was weak and underdeveloped, but Lily - as a collective character - was cool. She might've been the strongest character in this book when compared to Calder, his sisters, or even her collective family, but even then - the expansion of her character felt underwhelming when compared to the larger story.At a certain point, Calder truly starts to care for Lily (I wish this had been shown much better than what it was), and by that point, the sisters catch on and it ends up being a lot of trouble for our hero (meh) and heroine. The pacing really slowed this book down for me on a collective level. For all the intrigue of the premise, it felt sluggish for a story where a lot of manipulation is at play and for the genre it was. Sure, I like slice of life elements and hearing about character passions, but when it slows the momentum of the story, it can be difficult to pick up again. There were times when - and I'm a huge poetry buff - I really didn't want to hear about how Calder tries to talk to Lily about poetry and the tangents that were taken with that. It made me feel like I was back in Julie Cross's "Tempest" and how the main character (who's also male) starts citing Dickens in the middle of a make-out scene. Ugh. It makes for some awkward transitions, and doesn't always reflect well on the character.There were other elements that took me out of the tale as well - for example, the setting. I've never been to Lake Superior, but I know enough about it to know that the setting in this book misrepresents several elements about the environment and the people who may swim there. Real places do need to be vetted out in a work, even in fiction, because that can have an impact on how the story comes across.In the end, I'm a little torn as to whether I'll follow the series from here, but I think "Lies Beneath" could've amounted to more than what it was for its respective elements. I'm sure there are people who will like it, but I think there are better mermaid stories out there - with better characters, intrigue, and unique qualities.Overall score: 2/5Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Random House/Delcorte Books for Young Readers.