Book Review: Descent

Descent by Katie O'Sullivan
Published: July 16th 2015 by Wicked Whale Publishing
Source: NetGalley
Format: eBook
Rating: 3 out of 5

Shea MacNamara's life just got complicated...
When a freak tornado devastates his Oklahoma farm, fifteen-year-old Shea moves to Cape Cod to live with a grandmother he's never met. Struggling to make sense of his new surroundings, he meets a girl along the shore who changes his life forever.
Kae belongs to an undersea world hidden from drylanders, where bloody war rages between opposing clans. A fragile peace accord hinges on marriage between the royal families, but treachery and magick lurk in every shadow.
With Kae's help, Shea discovers his true heritage and finds that his destiny lies somewhere far below the ocean's surface.

To me, Descent was an enjoyable light read about mermaids. While it isn't a great book, it isn't bad either. I was able to read it quickly and easily. The most interesting part was the mermaid plot line, however, this only started getting serious at around 50% into the book. In my opinion, the book spent way too long talking about Shea's experience trying to fit into Cape Cod. If the book had focused more in the underwater events, it would've been more strong. The setting the author created for the mermaids was exciting and different from other mermaid books I've read. The mermaids had different clans and magical powers. It sparked my inner childhood wishes to be a mermaid (made me wish I could swim too). I liked learning about the mermaid life and would've liked to learn more about their farming and society. I liked how they included problems with marriage and race between the mermaids. It made them seem more real and not always the happy swimmers I usually them as. It had a small Percy Jackson feel with the trident tattoo showing up on mermaids that Poseidon chooses to rule the sea.

While romance did play a big part in the story, I felt like it wasn't strong enough for me to care about it. I could ignore the love story and focus on the mermaids. The romance between Shea and Kae wasn't believable. It was instant lust. There was no buildup to them falling in love, he was just hooked on to her (pun not intended) from the beginning because of her bikini. The first time they kissed made me cringe because I felt like they were only friends. I felt the fault here is more on the writing. The characters didn't seem real to me. Shea's name was a bit ridiculous (Shea MacNamara) and he and Kae were both bland.

One character I did love and found had a believable voice was Hailey. She was very bright and was bursting with energy. Her fast talking didn't seem tacky. However, she was only there to be used for a flimsy love triangle. She was completely irrelevant to the story. If the author had removed Hailey, the book would’ve been more concise and focused on the true story line.

While this book is YA, I felt like it was more middle grade. This book would be a good introduction for middle grade students into YA books. The writing isn't deep and rambled at some parts. It's very predictable. Though I was uneasy with the book and wasn't hooked until around 50% I didn't hate it. I would suggest this book to middle grade readers who enjoy fantasy.

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