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{September 17, 2013}   {Review} Surfacing by Shana Norris (Swan’s Landing #1)

13060190From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing.

But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.

As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.

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I’ve finally come across another book that has merfolk it in (or finfolk, as they’re called in this novel), and they’re not evil!  YES!  So many mermaid novels I’ve read have completely evil females and it has really turns me off of reading books dealing with merfolk, but Surfacing, alongside Of Poseidon, by Anna Banks, has restored my faith in this genre.

Mara is in for a huge surprise when she moves to the island with her estranged father, only to find that nobody on the island really wants her there, save an older lady and two young male teens vying for her attention.  Everyone else, even her father, it seems, wishes she wasn’t there, but she’s at a loss as to why.  While technically a story about finfolk, this novel tackles the theme of prejudice and racism in the form of humans versus finfolk, and it’s very tastefully done.  It’s impossible not to feel sorry for Mara and up in arms about the treatment she endures from those around her, and I think it really helps teach a vital lesson that our society still needs to learn.  Tolerance.  Why is it that we tend to blame an entire people group for one thing that someone did?  And yet, in society, this happens time and time again.

For Mara, it’s no different.  Thrust into the “you people” category by those around her, not even knowing what it means when people say that to her, Mara unwittingly stumbles upon the truth as she finally goes for a swim.  As a reader, this was a little difficult for me because it took Mara so long to figure it all out, even when all the signs were staring her in the face!  Who has an hankering for salt water?  Not me…  And, who lives by the ocean and doesn’t go in? I was dying waiting for Mara to put the pieces together, but once she does, the story really begins to take off as she must come to terms with her change, keep the secret of someone she holds dear, and navigate her feelings of unwant from her father and the intolerable people of the island.

Mara has a quick wit about her and her retorts were awesome, especially to those who treat her like scum.  It was hard not to cheer when she reacts with a little more force on one occasion, but even so, violence is not the answer, which the finfolk believe wholeheartedly.  If only the human population on the island believed it, too.  The ending leaves the novel wide open to the sequel, and I’m excited to see where it goes, especially with Mara’s relationship with Josh and Dylan, Sailor’s search for her mother (although Sailor certainly isn’t my favorite finfolk), and Elizabeth and her father’s vendetta against Mara and everyone not completely human.  Three and a half stars.

3.5 starsFiction Addiction has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel, via Netgally, in exchange for an honest review.

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