Review: Fathom by Merrie Destefano

October 14, 2012 Review 0 ★★★


Fathom

by Merrie Destefano

Genre: Paranormal  YA |
Excerpt: Yes | Book Trailer: No
Reviewed by: Julia | Source: Author

  • Print Length: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Merrie Destefano; September 24, 2012
  • ASIN: B009GJBGVS

Rating

Good – A fun read with minor flaws. Maybe read an excerpt before buying.

Sexual Content

Kissing.

Description

Everything is changing . . .

Turning sixteen can be hell, especially if everyone in town thinks your mother killed herself and your sister. All Kira Callahan wants to do is swim, hang out with her best friend, Sean, and ignore the kids who torment her at school. That is, until one day when she gets invited to a party. For three minutes her life is wonderful—she even kisses Sean in the driveway. Then somebody spikes her drink at the party and some girls from out of town lure her into the ocean and hold her underwater.

Kira soon discovers that the group of wild teenagers who have come to visit Crescent Moon Bay are not as innocent as they seem. In fact, nothing is as it seems—not the mysterious deaths of her sister and mother, not her heritage, not even her best friend. And everything seems to hinge on the ancient Celtic legends that her mother used to tell her as a child.

Review

FATHOM reads like swimming in the surf. One minute I was paddling in the shallows, interested but not committed, the next I was taken by the current, swept away and unable to surface for anything less than the end.

Destefano starts her two main characters on opposite end of the spectrum of reality. Despite the ghosts in Kira’s life, a big part of me thought she was firmly rooted in our own world. I couldn’t understand how Kira, immersed in mourning, outcast in high school, could appear in the legends of Caleb’s alien tribe of sea dwellers. I paddled along in my skepticism, then was blindsided as Destefano brought these two narratives together. I assumed that detail was “the big reveal”, then was surprised as another twist took me under.  The plot and main character are definitely FATHOM’s strengths.

Beyond these elements, however, I cannot say that the world building of FATHOM was without flaw.  Though the sea creatures in FATHOM are called “Selkies”, they bear little to no resemblance to the selkies of mainstream mythology.  I’m fine starting a new mythology whole cloth, but Destefano’s world building was too patchy to sweep me away. The relationship between the Selkies and their apex predator never quite comes alive (Only one?  Only  one in the entire ocean?  What is their range?  Why is one creature able to menace an entire race?).  The mating journey that brings Caleb and his friends into Kira’s world isn’t particularly developed (and something you can do twice in one season doesn’t seem that tough, despite losing *one* party member on the way).  Even worse, the details of Selkie mating that do sink in weakens the credibility of Kira and Caleb’s connection.  By book’s end Kira is calling Caleb her “dearest friend”, but I saw nothing more than superficial interactions between them (and the mating fire of the Burning).  Kira and Sean have the relationship that seems substantial and valid, but again mythology trips me up.  A familiar has a compulsion to obey their Selkie, a dynamic that tainted all of Kira and Sean’s interactions and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Though flaws in the mythology brought me down a bat, Kira’s half of the story was more than enough to keep me engaged in the story.  Kira’s journey is as much about grief and inner strength as it is about magic, and the complexities of a family’s dynamic means there is a lot more of her story to explore.  Though FATHOM was good as a standalone, Kira’s voice and day to day struggles have me hoping that Destefano has more of of this series in store.

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