Title: Tempest Rising
Author: Tracy Deebs
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
May Contain Spoilers
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.
I love the cover of this book, and I wanted to read it from the moment that I first saw it. I have a great affection for mermaid stories, and I try to read as many of them as I can. The ocean is like the last frontier; who knows what lurks down there, in the dark depths of the sea? I mean, have you seen pictures of some of the crazy looking fish that live down there? Who is to say that mermaids can’t be hiding under the waves as well?
Tempest is just days shy of her seventeenth birthday, which is something she has come to dread. On her birthday, she will have to choose what she will be – a human or a mermaid. Her mother abandoned her family years before, returning to her home in the Pacific Ocean. A half-mermaid, the sea has always called to her and made her feel at home. She is a killer surfer, and loves the time she spends with her on again, off again boyfriend riding the waves. When weird things start happening to her, and after she almost drowns, Tempest begins to realize that maybe she doesn’t have much of a choice about whether she stays a human or fulfills her destiny and follows her mother into the ocean’s watery depths.
I loved Tempest’s inner struggle here. It is obvious that she loves her family, and she will do anything for them. Her younger brother is especially dear to her, and she has tried to make up for their mother’s absence. Despite their occasional bickering, there is a strong unity between the siblings, and you get a great sense of how much they care for each other. Tempest’s father is a wonderful character as well. He is still reeling from the loss of his wife, but he strives to provide a stable, supportive home for his kids.
When the water keeps calling to her, and her body starts to change in unsettling ways, she begins to wonder if she really has a choice at all. Those gills are kind of disturbing, and she is terrified of growing a tail while surfing with her friends. When the mysterious and totally hot Kai shows up on the beach, Tempest’s life is thrown into chaos. She feels a strong and undeniable attraction to Kai, and even her boyfriend Mark feels threatened when he sees them together. The tension between Tempest and Kai sizzles, and while I enjoyed the romance aspects of this story, I felt that they overshadowed the rest of the plot.
This brings me to my only complaint about the book. Tempest’s voice did not ring true for me, and I didn’t get the feeling that she was a 17 year-old. She sounded much older to me, and that occasionally jarred me out of the narrative. Tracy Deebs also writes under several pen names, including adult paranormal romances as Tessa Adams (Dark Embers looks awesome, by the way!). While the physical displays of affection are obviously toned way down, there was still too much emphasis on this. Call me silly, but I would have preferred to learn more about the mermaids and their world than reading about Kai and Tempest making out or swimming together, for that matter! I enjoyed the world-building we were given, but was disappointed that there wasn’t more.
Overall, Tempest Rising is an enjoyable read. I liked the characters, and found the underwater world of the story fascinating. I am just disappointed that we didn’t get learn more about the mermaids, but hopefully this will be addressed in the sequel.
Review copy provided by publisher