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Friday, November 11, 2011

Between the Sea and the Sky

Between the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

Grade: 2 stars out of 5
"For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship...and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air." [from Amazon]

I had hoped that story would be just like the cover: breathtaking. But it wasn't.

Let me go off tangent a bit and hopefully bring this back to Between the Sea and the Sky. For class I read Free to Choose by Milton Friedman and Utopia by Thomas More and currently reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. On paper it sounds terrific, but idealistic. The world has too many variables for many of their ideas to be true. What they had on paper could not and did not translate into the real world. That was how I felt about Between the Sea and the Sky.

Between the Sea and the Sky had wonderful elements that should have transformed the book from being OK to being WOW. Perhaps Dolamore should have pulled back some elements and just focused on one or two aspect of the novel: saving Dosinia and rekindling the friendship between Alandare and Esmerine.

Instead Dolamore decided to incorporate racial discrimination and the rippling effects of stereotypes into the novel. It might have added an additional layer to the novel, but it took away the character development and story development. I felt disconnected to everything.

I thought the secondary characters (such as the younger sisters, all 5 of them) were empty fillers. They brought nothing substantial to the novel and quite frankly I had to edit to number (5) three times before I managed to count them all. I only enjoyed two secondary characters: the bookstore owner who was once a mermaid and Alandare's father. She, the bookstore owner, was quirky with a fascinating history. The same with the father. He was not the most well likable character, but he was fascinating and interesting with so many nuances.

I didn't care for the relationship development between Alandare and Esmerine. I thought their childhood friendship was the best part to read having a soft affection for their shared of books, but the tension ridden sexual relationship was too quick. The leap from friends to something more to {SPOILER} marriage {END SPOILER} blew my mind. Between the Sea and the Sky clocked in at 240 pages. There was not enough pages for me to believe the transition AND the final decision that changed Esmerine's life forever AND saving Dosinia. The characters themselves were good. They had good history, solid internal conflict, and intriguing personalities.

Another aspect that I had trouble connecting to was the cause of the entire novel: Dosinia. I did not like Dosinia. I found her actions very selfish. I know that we should do what makes us happy, but we should also consider how our actions affect others. For me, I was not unhappy about her motives, but rather her inconsideration to not tell anyone. She is a daughter, a sister, and a great sister. It affects a lot of people.

All in all, I love the world Dolamore created. I love it to bits. It was imaginative, vivid, and dark at times. I'm trying to figure out if there was a moral to the story because if there were this would be a great fairy tale story. But the fatal flaw was the shortness. I couldn't connect to characters or the general story.

Cover B+/A-
Source: ARC from Bloomsbury for blog tour
Published: October 25, 2011


  1. The cover is beautiful. It still sounds like a book I'd like to try out.

  2. Ugh I know what you mean about this one, I had such high hopes... which were quickly shattered when I read the novel. It just doesn't shine, the story seems to go through the motions. BTW I disliked bird boy a lot, he was such a douch bag.

  3. I still want to try this; I find all of Dolamore's ideas that you've mentioned to be really interesting. Even if it all fails to work, it sounds like there's something there worth reading.