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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs

Tempest Rising
Reading level: Young Adult 
Hardcover: 352 pages 
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (May 10, 2011)

Tempest Maguire wants nothing more than to surf the killer waves near her California home; continue her steady relationship with her boyfriend, Mark; and take care of her brothers and surfer dad. But Tempest is half mermaid, and as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she will have to decide whether to remain on land or give herself to the ocean like her mother. The pull of the water becomes as insistent as her attraction to Kai, a gorgeous surfer whose uncanny abilities hint at an otherworldly identity as well. And when Tempest does finally give in to the water's temptation and enters a fantastical underwater world, she finds that a larger destiny awaits her-and that the entire ocean's future hangs in the balance.

 Tempest Rising was an entertaining novel with memorable characters and a ferocious mythology under the sea. Much like the hypnotic pull of the ocean, this book also pulled me under into an exciting new world I enjoyed being a part of.

Main protagonist Tempest Macguire was aware of her mermaid heritage right from page one. This was such an important factor for me. Why? It was so refreshing to read a paranormally-themed book where the main character does not take half of the story to understand the changes happening to her. I usually find that frustrating to no end—when you are aware before you even turn to page one that the story is going to be about mermaids, but then you have to wait 150 pages for the characters to figure it out too.  I absolutely loved the fact that Tempest knew her mother was a mermaid and that at age seventeen she would be faced with much of the same decisions (both physical and emotion) that her mother struggled with.  Her pain at having to choose between her  little brothers ( vibrant young boys who really tug at your heartstrings) or the life calling to her from the deep blue sea was so appealing to me as a reader.

Like many YA books, there was love triangle in this book. However, to my surprise, it was not overblown or swoony. Gasp! What a relief! I thought it was done beautifully—so much so, that I was torn throughout almost the entire book as to who Tempest should pick: Mark or Kai. Even now, I'm still a bit unsure. Mark was Tempest's quiet strength- he loved her but he didn't really know her or understand her. Not like Kai, the boy with supernatural secrets and a dark appeal. Kai was mysterious, dangerous and a little unpredictable. He stirred up powerful feelings in Tempest she hadn't felt before and I looked forward to seeing him every time he came into the picture.

The book is set in a seaside community and was well-written with great attention to detail.  I felt like I was there with Tempest and her gang of guys, riding the waves with the wind against my face and the electric pull of the tides and that one perfect wave. There are also underwater scenes with battles, romantic interludes and an introduction into a world were mermaids, mermen and other creatures all intermingle. If I had to choose, I'd say the parts 'on land' were actually more special to me than those "under the sea". Tempest's interactions with the people who cared about her were what kept my heart pounding the most.  Sometimes the underwater fantastical elements (the sea witch, the vampiric octopus monster, etc) skewed the book a little younger than I would generally prefer.  I was also a little disappointed in how things tied up with Tempest's mother at the end. Most of the book built up to the big "showdown" between the absentee mermaid mom and Tempest. But when it actually happened, it wasn't what I had anticipated or really wanted. However none of these things really hindered my enjoyment of the book—they are just my own personal reading preferences. I would still highly recommend Tempest Rising for its fresh take on mermaid mythology and it's unique approach to storytelling. The romance was never over-the-top or annoyingly saccharine. It all worked for me.  Both guys were incredibly alluring and I'd love to dive back into Tempest's world anytime!

TRACY DEEBS collects books, English degrees, and lipsticks. She has been known to forget where-and sometimes who-she is when immersed in a great novel. She is a writing and literature professor at Austin Community College.


Mundie Moms said...

I am trying to hurry through some of my books to read this! I've heard nothing but great things about it. I'm even more excited that she's a local author here in TX. Great review!

Karen said...

Ooh, fun review! Between the strong family connection, non-annoying love triangle and strong mythology, I have been completely won over and must check that we've ordered this one for the library!

Book Passion for Life said...

Oooh I'm reading this now. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, I have pretty high hopes for it, and I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Thanks for the awesome review!