Monday 19 August 2013

Book Review: Surfacing by Shana Norris (Swan's Landing #1)

Whoa so it's been ages since I've posted anything, mostly because I've been procrastinating on this book and also because I started watching Bones. But I received this book from Shana Norris via NetGalley and I'm delighted to review this.

Title: Surfacing (Swan's Landing #1)
Author: Shana Norris
Genre: Fantasy, Teen romance
Publication Date: 11 November 2012
Trigger Warnings: Um nothing. I guess slight topics about her mom dying, so death?
Spoiler Alert: Spoilers. Since the book already came out. But not too many plot points given away, just enough for my honest opinion.


Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing.

But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.

As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.


Well I gotta say this was the first book that I received via Netgalley, so I was pumped. Totally pumped. 

If you actually follow me on twitter, my first reaction when I started reading was: 

It was different from the usual conventions, which I think was great. To start off, the first half of the book was interesting, introducing our main character with no hint that anything's wrong despite her strange father and the odd people of the island. The mystery is presented almost immediately. Now that was probably one of the more frustrating parts. Strange hints were dropped throughout the first half of the book about the mystery, but never really helped me to form a clue on what the big reveal was going to be about. It might have been intentional, but I was really just plain confused. I would have been fine with that, but the whole mystery thing lasted for half the book. It felt draggy, personally. But obviously, things picked up after that.

So I'll highlight the main characters.

Our main character Mara. Mara's your typical teenaged girl, finds herself in a small town with secrets, the usual. We obviously find out later on that she's special or something, but she's pretty "normal". Despite trying to make her sound strong, Mara came across and really oversensitive and bratty. I don't know, I've never had a parent leave me, and I have never come across a fictional character less willing to sympathize with people. She has a ridiculously short temper and is prone to violence. I mean, I'm all for girls who defend themselves, but she resorts to violence unnecessarily. Leave that to the minor characters girl. Leave it. Like, there were instances when, for example, her father. He would try and do something nice for her, she would deliberately find some fault in it and link it back to him leaving her mom and get angry and storm out crying, blaming him. Not only did I find that infuriating, I found it really stupid. But she did serve as a decent narrative character for the better parts. 

Then we have our Hot Sexy Guy, Josh. (If you need an explanation, click here.) To be honest, I didn't like him. Of all things he probably ruined the story most for me. His character didn't make sense in the story, really, other than to serve as a sort of romantic interest for Mara. And that's the thing. Mara. Throughout the story she's seen as very confrontational, always running up and beating up girls who try and pick on her, but when Josh completely ignores her, she doesn't do anything. It's like she was completely fine with it. It didn't make any sense. His character didn't get a lot of screen time, but from what I did see his character doesn't really have much potential for development anymore.

Then our NSG, Dylan. Dylan's really sweet and supportive, though maybe lavishing too much attention on Mara and neglecting his previous best friend, Sailor. His back story wasn't developed much but that just leaves him open for more character development which I think should be interesting. Also Mara why

And Sailor. She's sort of a side character, jealous of all the attention Mara gets upon her arrival. I think we were supposed to hate her? But I kind of liked her, really. Nothing much there.

Now about the mythology. I did enjoy it somewhat. The concept was interesting. I'm not trying to spoil the plot, but I'll say that I loved the writing of the experience much more enjoyable than most of the sappy, overly descriptive to the point of being unrealistic, books. However the "climax" if you can even consider that one, was really rushed and really didn't have much of a buildup, since most of the book was dedicated to creating a "mystery" behind the town.

Overall, I enjoyed the book more than I expected. It felt more of a setting-the-scene sort of book than an actual story, but I think it has potential.

Grade: B. Not bad. I had problems, of course, but it wasn't horrible.

PS: Yes I'm back! Sorry for the hiatus, I'm a fangirl and I just got into a new show, Bones. So I hope I'll be able to update more frequently. Bye!

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