Of Neptune by Anna Banks

Of Neptune by Anna BanksEmma and Galen have decided to get some much needed alone time by taking a road trip. Emma’s grandfather pushes them in the direction of a small town called Neptune, which turns out to be something completely unexpected. In Neptune, Syrena live in harmony with humans and Half-Breeds. Emma begins to realize that she may have another choice for her future and when a Half-Breed named Reed begins to pay her extra attention, Galen is worried that Emma may decide to stay in Neptune forever.

The first book in this series was really good–it was one of the first mermaid YA books I’ve read and it seemed really original and had a great plot. The second book fell pretty flat in my opinion and I nearly gave up on the series after that. However, because I feel compelled to always finish a series (the exception being Lauren Kate’s Fallen series, ugh), I decided that I had to read Of Neptune. I was hoping that it would revive the trilogy for me, but unfortunately it was more like the second book than the first.

The romance between Emma and Galen seemed to die after the first book. I felt like I had little interest in their love story anymore because there didn’t really even seem to be one. Their love story, along with much of the plot of this book, seemed contrived. Emma and Galen seem like they keep trying to force their relationship to be something it’s not, and by going on a road trip it seemed like they were trying to get everything back on track. However, when they find Neptune and realize they both have radically differing opinions on the small town, it just drags them further apart.

Emma and Galen are both extreme in their personalities–Emma is super trusting and so ridiculously naive that sometimes you just want to slap her, and Galen is super overprotective and sometimes channels Edward Cullen. So when they meet a Half-Breed named Reed who invites them back to their town, Galen automatically hates him just because he so much as glances at Emma, and Emma automatically trusts him and agrees to go with him with or without Galen, just because he is a Half-Breed like herself. The guy could still be a murdering psychopath! Who just runs off with someone they meet in the woods? So naturally, Reed creates a rift between Emma and Galen because he obviously has the hots for Emma, which annoys Galen. And what’s even more annoying is that Emma pretends to be unaware of it, and even when Reed is blatant about it she just shrugs it off and ignores it.

The bigger conflict in this book is that technically a town like Neptune where humans and Syrena live together and where Half-Breeds exist at all is illegal by Syrena rules, and since Galen is a Triton royal, he is under obligation to tell his brother, the king. The problem is that Emma loves the town and loves the idea of mermaids and humans living together, so Galen and Emma soon find themselves in the middle of a political struggle. This leads to the even bigger issue surrounding their relationship: they have no idea what they will do when they’re finally mated–will Galen live on land with Emma or will Emma live in the ocean with Galen?

Overall, Of Neptune was kind of a blah ending to the trilogy. Everything was basically wrapped up plot-wise, but much of the book felt contrived and Emma just got more annoying as the series progressed.

Of Neptune was released on May 13, 2014 and is the final book in The Syrena Legacy.

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Of Triton by Anna Banks

Of Triton by Anna BanksWARNING: SPOILERS FOR OF POSEIDON AHEAD

Emma has just discovered that not only is she a Half-Breed, but her mother is a long lost mermaid princess. Emma herself is having trouble coming to terms with her identity because she feels torn between the human world and the world of the Syrena where Galen, the boy she loves, is a prince. When her mother reveals herself to the Syrena world, it nearly starts a war between the two kingdoms of Triton and Poseidon, and forces Emma to figure out where exactly she belongs.

I am a huge mermaid fan, and I’ve been saying forever that there need to be MORE MERMAIDS!! There haven’t been many mermaid stories until recently, and I’m glad to see the increase in the appearance of mermaids in young adult literature. However, while I really loved Of Poseidon, I’m afraid Of Triton really didn’t do it for me.

In the first book it seemed like there were so many sparks between Emma and Galen so I was really excited to see where the second book would take them. However, in the second book it seemed like there were no sparks at all! There were very few times in the book where Emma and Galen were actually together but when they were it was like there was absolutely no chemistry. I found myself really bored with their relationship overall, and I feel like they didn’t really even grow as a couple throughout this book.

Emma herself seemed to be more childish in this book and weirdly kept calling herself out on her own immaturity. I felt like I liked her a lot better in the previous book. The narration of the story also bothered me a bit–Emma’s narration is told in first person and Galen’s is told in third person, which is just a really strange switch that didn’t really make sense to me.

The overall plot was just so-so in my opinion. I found it hard to get through this book and it definitely took me a lot longer to read than I had expected. I think the lack of sparks between the characters and the somewhat blahness of the plot made it hard for this book to really hold my interest.

Overall, Of Triton was a disappointing sequel to Of Poseidon. The sparks have died and the plot made this just seem like a filler book that is leading up to a (hopefully) more exciting third book.

Of Triton was released on May 28, 2013 and is the second book in the Of Poseidon series. The third book, Of Neptune, is expected to be released in 2014.

Trending Topics in YA

It seems like YA literature keeps going through different trends each year. There was the whole Twilight phenomenon and now The Hunger Games has taken the lead, but what’s next? Here are some current trends emerging in young adult books today:

ZOMBIES ARE THE NEW VAMPIRES

Now that the Twilight saga is (finally) coming to an end, vampires seem to have taken a backseat to a different type of creature: ZOMBIES!! As a huge fan of all things zombies, I am thrilled at the comeback zombies are making in pop culture today. A few years ago you almost couldn’t turn on a TV without some mention of vampires, whether it be Twilight, True Blood, or The Vampire Diaries. Today it seems like most people are over the whole vampire thing. After the release and subsequent explosive popularity of Twilight, everyone and their mother tried to hop on the vampire bandwagon and write a book/TV show/movie about vampires. This year there is a serious lack of vampire books, with two notable exceptions:  The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda and The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. When picking up both of these books to read, my first thought was that these authors are really pushing it by still trying to keep the vampire craze going. However, I have to say that with both books I was pleasantly surprised. And the reason that I enjoyed both immensely was not because I am still a sucker (no pun intended) for all things vampire, but rather because each of these novels sought to distinguish themselves from the traditional portrayal of vampires and from the supremely overdone trope of vampire meets human girl/boy and falls in love.

With the vampire trend dwindling down, there has definitely been a rise in books/TV shows/movies about zombies. I would attribute a lot of this to The Walking Dead, which has gained an insane following and put zombies back into pop culture. There has been a definite increase in YA books about zombies, a couple of examples being This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers and (still to come) The Infects by Sean Beaudoin. There has also been an increase in the number of YA zombie books being made into movies: World War Z, Warm Bodies, and The Forest of Hands and Teeth, all three of which are set to be in theaters next year. With the significant decrease in vampire books and the rising popularity of zombies, I definitely think it is safe to say that zombies are the new vampires.

RISE OF THE MERMAIDS

Mermaids are HUGE now! This year alone there have been so many YA books about mermaids:  Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, Wake by Amanda Hocking, Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown, and The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova are just a few. I can honestly say that I did not see this trend coming, but I’m glad it did! I don’t think I had ever read a book about mermaids before this year and will definitely admit to being a little skeptical about the subject at first but Of Poseidon definitely changed my opinion and left me craving MORE MERMAIDS! I look forward to seeing how this trend evolves in the future.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE WIZARDS/WITCHES GONE??

There has been a serious lack of YA books about magic lately. I don’t know if it’s just because people feel it has been overdone or if everyone is worried that they will be unable to live up to Harry Potter (which is most likely true) but for some reason there has been a big decrease in the amount of witches and wizards present in YA literature. There have been some great books about wizards/witches in the past few years–Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia for example—but 2012 hasn’t really seen anything in the way of magic. However, with the Beautiful Creatures movie being released early 2013, it is possible that magic will have a bit of a revival.

SERIES VS. STANDALONE

It seems to me that nearly every book that I pick up lately is part one of a series/saga/trilogy. It is very rare that you find a standalone YA book today and I believe there are pros and cons to both series and standalone novels. The drawback of a series is that (at least in my case) it seems like you’re always waiting for the next book to be written/released. I cannot tell you how many times I have picked up a book, not knowing that it is part one of a series, and got to the end only to see the words END OF PART ONE, TO BE CONTINUED, or something of that variation. There are times when I love this, and it is usually because the book is so good that I just want to read more about the characters and the world they live in. There are other times when I hate this, either because the book is so good that I’m angry that I have to wait months/years for the next one, or because I’m just pissed that every book has to be part of a series. I can understand why many authors are writing series instead of standalone novels–sometimes there is just so much to the story that to fit it all in one book would be ridiculous–but in some cases it seems like the author is just dragging the story out so that they can make money off of yet another book about the same thing (i.e. The Fallen series by Lauren Kate). Then again there are some series, like Michael Grant’s Gone series, that keep going on and on and just keep getting better as they do. I suppose it just really depends on how good the author is at keeping the series alive but I still wonder–can nobody write a good standalone novel anymore? The only exceptions I have found lately have been Courtney Summers and John Green. Both have written exceptionally good standalone novels that in no way seemed incomplete or left me demanding a sequel.

What do you think? Are there any other trends that you’ve noticed emerging this year? Which trends do you love and which could you do without?