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ARC Review: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown

Title: Lies Beneath
Story Arc: Series, Book #1
Publication: June 12, 2012 by Delacorte/Random House
Hardcover: 303 pages
Genre: Mermaids, Paranormal, Mythology, Urban Fantasy
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Content: Killing
Source: Random House via NetGalley | Quote(s): Yes

I hadn't killed anyone all winter, and I have to say I felt pretty good about that.

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.
The cover isn’t the only thing not working for me
Have you guys SEEN that cover? I get that the girl must be one of Calder White’s three mermaid sisters, BUT wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to have—gee, I don’t know—Calder himself on the cover? I WANT TO SEE A HUNKY MERMAN, darnit. But, I digress. The cover of Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown isn’t the only thing that puts me off to this book now that I’ve completed it. I DESPISE that this book has such intriguing, fascinating mermaid lore integrated in the story, AND YET Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown falls prey to the SO OVERDONE romance factor in paranormal books. Guy meets girl with malicious intent, guy sees how amazing girl is, and suddenly they want to go off and make out on the hammock in the forest. Lily herself is so annoyingly impervious to his history, his makeup, his purpose in her life, HIS APPETITE FOR BOB'S SAKE, that I wanted to bash some SENSE into the girl.

But why does Calder White have to do the falling? Why CAN’T, for once, the guy go in there with an I’m Going to Kill You purpose in my mind and actually follow through with it. WOULDN’T THAT MAKE FOR A MORE INTERESTING STORY LINE? I can guarantee no one would see that coming. Or maybe he takes pity and has mercy on the girl for an entirely different reason, so long as that reason doesn't have to do with him suddenly, SWIFTLY developing unexplainable feelings for the girl in question. I realize this is starting to sound like a rant, but GOSH DARN who made off with all the originality while our backs were turned?

In the beginning
Man, I was really getting into Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown initially. Calder is at the Bahamas pondering his kill-free winter and his remarkable self-control to maintain his current record. He’s starting to get a tad twitchy about his expanding appetite, which he’s been stubbornly taming for an unclearly defined reason that still puzzles him. Just as he's ready to say to hell with dieting, he gets a call from his heartless people-eating mermaid sister. So, yeah, Calder is a merman. And he’s supposed to migrate back home to Lake Superior with his family, which consists of three sisters—Maris, Tallulah, and Pavati. Of course, he’s expecting this call, predicting the conversation to be about his no-show all winter and how the weeks are counting down until he can't resist the pull to migrate anymore.

Fortunately, THIS call is actually different than what he expected. Turns out, the object of their revenge has FINALLY found his way back to Calder’s home. Now the debt left unfulfilled by Jason Hancock’s father will at long last be satisfied. RIVETING, right? I know I was (riveted, that is). Throw in Calder’s seizure-like transformations from merperson to human, and all the deets in between about their species and I had to swipe at some stray bits of foam dotting the corners of my mouth. WHO is Tom and Jason Hancock and WHY are the EVIL MERMAIDS so ticked off at them both? What does this alleged contract have to do with Calder’s mother’s death? And why must Jason pay the penalty resulting in a horrible death?

Then there’s all the questions that surface about how mermaids are able to shift forms, procreate, and so on that I don’t see how anyone could be bored at this point.

When things get fraked up
Part of this wicked mer family’s plan is to lure Jason into the water. To do that they need a reasonable and logical stand-in to use as bait. Jason might’ve heard the stories of creatures slithering through the ocean from his father, might’ve taken them to heart SO someone very vital to his life will have to draw him into the danger-infested waters of Lake Superior. OF COURSE, that makes the target one of Jason’s two daughters. The mission? Get close, REAL close and earn trust. Blah blah blah, you know how it goes in all the BEST espionage movies and paranormal books. What I didn’t understand? These are, may I remind you, EVIL mermaids with superpowers, including the one to shift into human form. Why is it inconceivable to snatch him from his bed and drown the shizz out of him? Why go about making and attempting to execute this REALLY convoluted plan when things could be so much more simple?

After that decision’s made is when things lean toward the sticky and eye-rollably TYPICAL. Calder White is enchanted by Lily Hancock’s astounding self-control and instincts toward his true nature, he is crushing on her flair for the dramatic, her wannabe modernized Victorian poet wardrobe, and her love of poetry. After so little time I had to shake my head. And Lily, of course, is all feigned resistance and snooty attitude toward his self-assured conversation tactics and so on. PLEASE, I am so OVER this set-up.

Where are the smart girls who don’t believe in sunshine and flowery images of sweet little mermaids reminiscent of Ariel? Where are the SANE girls who COMPREHEND when Calder is saying, Look, I’m a killer, right to their faces and ACTUALLY RUN AWAY? I’m sorry, but if I find out my beau is the feeding-on-humans type (unless we're talking Edward Cullen here, because then I'm sunk) with the fins and everything, I’m more than likely going to be out the nearest Exit sign quicker than Speedy Gonzales.

Eventually, I got tired and BORED
I liked having a guy’s POV to turn to. I enjoyed reading from Calder’s perspective, learning about his foggy history and how he came to be part of his family, came to be a merman. His push and pull toward humans, their emotions, etc. He’s relatable in a way that’s unexpected, not so much because he’s, you know, A CREATURE OF THE SEA, but because he seems empty at first. A husk of a person. And then you just start to see how lonely, miserable, and uncertain he is. A person with questions, and needs, in which I could resonate. There’s this repulsion of his kind, of him and how he and his sisters teem humans to survive, and yet it’s easy to feel strangely close to him. I still wouldn't date him, though.

Even so, at some point a little more than halfway through I got tired of trudging through a rather predictable plot, no matter how many twists were incorporated to make the trimmings a little more unique. I kept persevering despite the boredom that eventually caught on, however, because I also realized that I was actually interested in the outcome. Never mind that I’d already invested SO MUCH TIME into Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown by that point.

Ultimately, I enjoyed a decent chunk of the novel, excluding the latter half, and although I wasn’t altogether pleased with the cliché ending—apart from one nicely done, unexpected twist—I feel relieved that I finished Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown instead of the alternative. Now it’s not looming in the back of my mind. Unfortunately, Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown is a story I can see myself forgetting in the near future, and so I won’t be overrun with urgency for Deep Betrayal, the sequel.
"But how do you do it, Lily? What are the mechanics?"
WAIT. It's not what it sounds like.
"Forgiveness? I don't have a choice. Or at least, no other good choices."
"I'm not sure I can forgive them for what they tried to do last night..."
"Forgiveness isn't just for them, Calder. It's for you. Forgiveness is freedom. It's something you do for yourself—to keep who you are intact. Now that I think about it—in some ways, it's kind of a selfish act." (86%)
Rating: Guilty Pleasure

While Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown drifts away from the bubbly, lighthearted, and frivolous mermaid books that are better at giving you warm and fuzzies than all sorts of chills, I wasn’t utterly impressed. The mermaids are vicious, yes. The lore intriguing, certainly. However, after the first half of the novel, the plot started leaning toward predictable, the romance crossing into the been there, read that region to the point where I was more turned off than I expected. Powering through that last half took a lot of patience, and, once I was finished, the conclusion didn’t quite fulfill my needs. Although I won’t be returning, or, more reasonable to assume, eager, for the sequel, Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown definitely deviates from the quintessential carefree, happy mermaid tales and goes somewhere delightfully dark and practical.

Got something specific in mind? Dare I believe I might NOT have covered something you wish to know? If so, let me know down in the comments section. Don't be shy!


Juli Rahel said...

I saw the cover first and then read the blurb and was all like: why is there a girl on the cover? I want a merman too ;) And I completely agree with you on the overdone romance storyline. It would be so much better if people just stuck to what they set out to do! Thanks for sharing!
Juli @ Universe in Words

Ezmirelda Demetri said...

Haven't heard of this one before but I just added it to my TBR list.Come to think of it I haven't ready ANY books involving mermaids. Maybe I should start off with this one.
Haha! I love the rating "guilty pleasure".
Awesome the new look! At first I was confused and wondered if I clicked on the wrong link, then I saw the header and all was well. ;)

Heidi said...

Why hello there friend, I do believe you just pegged all of the reasons I DNF'ed this one. I tried reading this in the midst of my YA slump, and the romance was so gratingly typical that I couldn't do it. Which bummed me out because you're RIGHT the lore was awesome and I really wanted more of that goodness. What a waste.

Elizabeth Vail said...

Man, I was *so* interested in this book as well! The story sounded so interesting, and in the YA industry it really looks like mermaids are the new angels which were the new vampires, right? Anyway, awesome review - I laughed so hard when you said, "WHY CAN'T THE MAN-EATING MONSTER JUST FOLLOW THROUGH AND EAT THE GIRL ALREADY?!" So true!

Asher Knight said...

EXACTLY. It made absolutely NO SENSE to me that they put a female up there. Although, initially, I wasn't altogether sure if it WAS a girl. Considering the slight boobage. My final answer is girl, though. IT'S SO TYPICAL. I wish there would've been a darker side to it rather than the guy typically falling for the girl.

Asher Knight said...

EZZY. I've missed you, girl! YOU HAVEN'T HEARD OF ANY INVOLVING MERMAIDS? I'd rather you read Of Poseidon by Anna Banks than this one. It's so much funnier and cuter and worth the time. I was a little nervous about this new look but it's so efficient. So I traded-off explosions of color some really darn good efficiency. So glad to hear you're digging it, although I do apologize for the confusion ;D

Asher Knight said...

Why, hello there Heidi, I do remember you mentioning this one and how much you didn't like it SOMEWHERE. Or I could be wrong, in which case that was an awkward opener xD But yes, the romance among other things just got on my FRAKING NERVES. The lore, the eating peeps *spoiler* emotions and shizz *end spoiler* IS AWESOME. And then it had to go and get ruined *grumble-sigh*

Asher Knight said...

It is... AT FIRST. But, yes, I know what you mean. I was so disappointed that this book didn't do anything for me. It had the potential to be wrenching and perfect but then it just ended up FAILing. I agree, there does seem to be a crazy surplus of merpeople books, yo. AND YES. THANK YOU. I'M GLAD YOU CAUGHT WHAT I WAS TRYING TO SAY. I wish SOMEONE would think to do that at first. It's like what J. K. Rowling said in a speech, "If you remember anything about me today years from now you'll remember my gay wizard joke", or something along those lines. So even if I ended up STILL not liking the story at least I would remember something as shocking as that to take away from the story, you know? :-D

Liz @ Planet Print said...

Your review made me laugh :P. It's a shame this was disappointing - I agree that this kind of romance is overdone (though I do like male POVs). And the COVER. I don't get the cover at all. AT ALL. In fact, it kind of angers me. A LOT. Anyway, thanks for the review. Think I might skip this one.

Andrea Modolo said...

I was so disappointed with the cover! It really should be a guy, the sisters aren't that important that they should be on the cover. I enjoyed this book a bit, but I know what you mean about just cutting out the romance for once, and Lily was a very naive character. The ending was the thing that I was like "WOAH, what?!" It definitely came out of nowhere, and the whole thing with Tallulah. It seemed like Brown took this story in weird directions.

Asher Knight said...

XD It felt like I was ranting a lot while I was writing so I'm glad it was amusing rather than tiring. But I was just so annoyed by this book. AND YET I STILL LIKED SOME OF IT *shakes head* I'm also thankful that I'm not the only who feels that way about the cover!

Asher Knight said...

YES. THANK YOU. I was like, WHAT THE WHAT? Lily is SO NAIVE it annoyed me to no end. And for once can't we have the people-eater actually eat people. Especially the naive girl. HOW CRAY WOULD THAT BE. Weird directions INDEED.

Giselle San Miguel said...

Oh man, I had the same idea about you. They were thinking about it all wrong. Just get him in the water! GAHH lol then after that I was bored...soooo bored.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I totally agree when it comes to the story line, I wish that it would have been unpredictable. The beginning was fun but once I saw the girl had come in I basically could have wrote the rest myself.