Author: Ciye Cho
Series: Florence Waverley #1
Publication Date: June 28, 2012
Source: I received an ecopy in exchange for an honest review
Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.
Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand--and find out where she belongs--Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart... and her very soul.
I think I can honestly say, Florence was my first mermaid book (well, unless you count the merpeople in Harry Potter). Mermaids present some issues an author needs to work around and generally demand some in-depth world-building. As author needs to either develop their underwater world or develop a way for them to interact with us landlubbers. Ciye Cho chose the former.
Florence starts the book as a timid, observant outsider. She doesn't feel as though she belong anywhere and the more we learn of her situation, the sadder it becomes. However, after being kidnapped by a merman and spending some time in the mercity of Niemela, she really does some serious growing up. In the end, she learns that sometimes staying true to your belief in what's right is worth standing out in the crowd and drawing a bit of attention.
However, with all the world-building necessary to bring Niemela alive, the pacing suffered a bit. The first half of the book is fairly slow, as we learn all about Niemela, from how the merperson sleep to how they get their food to how they can control sea creatures with their minds. Then it gets a bit rushed as major events start happening without much build up to them. The pacing improves at the end and I tore through the last 15% of this book.
The book hinted at a few of the tropes in YA that annoy me. There were hints of a love triangle (between two brothers/princes, no less). There were hints of instalove (6 days of hot and cold interactions, although no mention of that dreaded L word). Florence had the potential to be one of those useless heroines, but she grew enough as a person to become sufficiently badass for my standards.
Overall, Florence was an interesting read with a ton of world-building and some character growth. The pacing was off, but I'm still interested to find out what happens next. Maybe Luminaire will be next year's mermaid read!
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