Grade: 2.5 stars out of 5
Tempest’s mother left her, her father, and her two younger brothers six years ago for the ocean. On Tempest’s seventeenth birthday, she will make the same choice: to remain on land or to live in the ocean. Because of Tempest’s seventeenth birthday, she will become a mermaid just like her mother, but unlike her mother, Tempest is vehemently against the idea. She wants to travel abroad, become an artist, be there for her father and brothers, and continue to catch the waves with her on-and-off again boyfriend, Mark. As the dark ocean calls to her and a new boy shows up, Tempest finds the decision harder than she expected especially as the lives of thousands rest of her shoulders.Tracy Deebs likes to dance around words. Many times while I was reading I wanted to cross out some phrases because they were so unnecessary. For example, “He was in here, doing this, not because he was in the mood to play anymore than I was, but because he didn’t want to leave me alone” (289 of ARC). This pattern of writing comes up frequently: blah blah blah not because blah blah, but because blah blah blah. Be direct, say what needs to be said. I couldn’t really enjoy the novel because this and some other glaring writing styles kept staring back at me. The other “glaring” detail I noticed was the author’s love for dashes. A majority of those dashes could have been replaced by simple commas or eliminated altogether. I dare you, to those who own a copy, to open up a random page and not find an em dash.
I had trouble sinking my teeth into Tempest’s relationships. Tempest Rising is on the borderline between “love” and “lust. More than half the time I swear it’s lust. I wanted a lot more from the novel in terms of dialogue and character connections before drooling all over each other. SPOILER [highlight to read]: when Tempest cheats on Mark, I expected Tempest to confess and live up to her mistakes. But she doesn’t and that really disgusted me. The ending really really pissed me off because it was a cop-out. I needed Tempest to face her punishment, but she gets away looking like the good guy when clearly she was just as guilty.
The world building was vivid and nicely executed. Having read about mermaids and other sea creatures before, I’m no stranger to the underwater world. Deebs managed to differentiate between each sea creature while still keeping intact the traits that make them “sea creatures”.
What Tempest Rising excelled in was the emotional turmoil that drove the book along. Readers can feel the angst that Tempest dealt with when deciding life’s choices. The little glimpses of the mother’s disappearance were evident in the other characters, fleshing them out instead of being just mindless secondary characters.
But don’t knock down the fight scenes. Tempest Rising had rough, hands-on fighting and wasn’t afraid to kill off some people. A little sad twist in the end.
Tempest Rising could have been a contender, but the writing style of Tracy Deebs was not for me. The nuances of the novel kept me from really enjoying what other readers seemed to love.
Published: 2011 May 10; hardcover
Source: ARC from Walker Books for blog tour