Tempest Rising by Tracy Deebs
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. -Plot summary borrowed from Good Reads
When I started with the mermaids theme for the summer, I really had expected more of them to be Paranormal Romances a la Twilight (love triangle, dark mysterious stranger, etc etc etc) and this has been the first to actually fit that mold. And that's not a bad thing.
While Tempest Rising reminded me a lot of Twilight (which as a reader I loathe but as a librarian, I grudgingly acknowledge that it does get teens reading, so, all grumbling aside it does do a lot of good) in the setup, Deebs does a lot of things Meyers did not. Tempest has a loving family that she is an active part of, she has a supportive network of friends, she has hobbies, an emotional life beyond her romantic life- I could go on. I did almost give up on the book when Kona, the requisite Mysterious Dark Stranger is introduced and Tempest is immediately and inexplicably drawn to him despite her misgivings blah blah see previous post. BUT, Deebs almost immediately fleshes out his character and makes it clear that there are reasons to trust and like him.
Best of all, this novel talks a great deal about choices. Tempest has a choice whether to be human or mer, it will just be a difficult one. She can choose which, if either, boy she loves and will be the best for her. She makes one choice that has terrible consequences, which she must then face.
This was also a good read, an definitely interesting in terms of the mermaid theme. Tempest despises the idea of becoming mer (this happened a bit in Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings, but it wasn't clear why, other than the idea of having a fish tail weirded out the protagonist). For Tempest, becoming mer means becoming more like the mother she was abandoned by, and will mean leaving her family forever if she cannot resist the lure of the ocean. To me, this is much more meaningful. The mer world is not a sparkly, happy place like in Forgive My Fins, because this is a much darker book all around. Despite that, there are light moments and I enjoyed the relationship between Kona and Tempest as being much more realistic and likable than many other paranormal pairings.
If you like paranormal romance but are looking for a heroine with a bit more of a backbone, this is a solid bet. (If you're looking for an even tougher heroine, check out Rampant by Diana Peterfreund).
It hasn't been announced yet, but I'd be surprised if a sequel is not in the works.