Children's Literature - Elisabeth Greenberg
Miranda loves her high school friends on Whym Island, but their last summer cookout before the start of school ends in disaster. Her boyfriend Fletch persuades her to take out her 16th birthday present boat, Star Gazer, and drop all her friends at their homes. The boat lurches and stops in the water; lightning, thunder, and rain strike; then the boat explodes in fire. Fletch heroically tosses Miranda into the sea to save her. She kicks hard as she screams Fletch's name, but a force seems to be dragging her into the deep. As she feels death coming for her, she is suddenly forced toward the surface and towed toward the shore. Soon the reader is enmeshed in Miranda's story, the death of her parents when they drove off a pier into the water, the coldness of her grandmother, her closeness to her younger brother Teddy, the mysterious stranger boy who saved her, stories of an island witch under the sea who takes souls. Meanwhile, the stranger, Christian, introduces a parallel world, Down Under, ruled by the witch Sephia who limits the Down Under people from surfacing, even those betwixt men who could become breathers of air. When Miranda recovers from her experience she discovers that four of her friends are lost, including Fletch whose body survives in a coma but whose soul seems to be missing. Miranda tries to make sense of her life; she feels safe with Christian while her high school friends who survived seem to both blame and shun her. She struggles to do what seems right, to visit Fletch, to tell him that she loves him still and wishes he would come back, but feels guilty because she is so drawn to Christian. This book, complete with the evil witch Sephie, a rich and elegant Coral benefactor to the island in order to complete her collection of souls, ends in another disaster, but satisfactorily. Unfortunately, the epilogue, perhaps included in anticipation of a sequel, is heavy with symbolism and cliches. Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg
VOYA - Stephanie Petruso
Riding Twilight's coattails, Wrecked tells the story of Miranda, who lives on an exclusive island off South Carolina. One night, a freak accident on Miranda's boat kills three of her friends. Miranda should have drowned, but someone carried her to shore then disappeared. Returning to school, she is blamed for the deaths and ostracized by the other survivors. Miranda knows she could not have prevented the wreck but sinks into deep depression. She manages her pain by endlessly swimming. At the beach she encounters Christian, an exceptional swimmer with a phosphorescent glow, and is inexplicably drawn to him. She has never seen him before and assumes he is camping on the island. They talk night after night until Christian reveals that he is a "betwixtman," living between the worlds of humans and mermaids. He explains that she and the other survivors are in danger from the sea witch Sephie, who feels cheated out of their souls. Wrecked's premise will attract those looking for supernatural romance with a new spin, but Davies does not follow through in creating a believable world teens will want to return to. We see Christian interact with his brother but never how their underwater life operates. We are told Sephie is an evil queen but given no explanation why she wants to kill people and collect souls. The mermaid part of the story line seems like nothing more than a gimmick. Libraries with big teen collections will probably want to order this, but it is by no means an essential purchase. Reviewer: Stephanie Petruso
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—High school senior and soccer star Miranda O'Rouke has it all: a large home on a beautiful island, good friends, a devoted boyfriend, and a bright future. But all that changes after a beach party where four of Miranda's friends die in a boating accident and she was the driver. In the aftermath, Miranda must endure self-blame and her community's scorn. She finds solace with Christian, the merman who saved her life that night. However, she doesn't know what he is or that he was sent to claim her soul for Sephie, the "benevolent dictator" of "Down Below." With gaping plot inconsistencies, Wrecked has potential but never delivers. Some readers may relate to the protagonist's survivor guilt, and Christian's perspective every few chapters is a nice addition. However, Miranda comes across as whiny, and her romance with Christian becomes "love" after just a few days. Readers will feel for her-the accident was not her fault-and the way the entire community shuns her is disproportionally cruel and unrealistic. Errors in plot and syntax are confusing and, at times, humorous (e.g., in one scene, Miranda's clothes change mid-conversation-one minute she's in her underwear, but a paragraph later she's wearing a Speedo). For recent books featuring mermen, Anne Greenwood Brown's Lies Beneath (Delacorte, 2012) and Zoraida Cordova's The Vicious Deep (Sourcebooks, 2012) are better choices.—Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TX
A girl runs afoul of the wicked sea witch but finds love with one of her minions in this new take on the mermaid theme. Miranda lives with her wealthy grandmother on a small island off South Carolina. After a beach party, she pilots her boat on a joyride, but a freak storm wrecks the craft, killing four of her friends and putting her boyfriend into a coma. A mysterious boy swims her to safety. Unaccountably, her schoolmates and the adults at her private school all blame her for the accident, despite proof that she wasn't drinking. Miranda takes refuge on a deserted beach where she meets a boy who suddenly appears there. Christian isn't actually a merman but a "betwixtman," living either down below or up above. He is, however, a creature of the sea and, of course, impossibly handsome. The Sea Witch has commanded him to collect Miranda's soul, but, naturally, he falls in love with the girl and plots to kill the witch instead. Meanwhile the witch appears on land with her own plot to collect Miranda's soul. Although the concept here seems an original-enough twist on mermaid stories, the execution doesn't stand above the average, and the resolution seems far too easy. For paranormal-romance addicts only. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)
Read an Excerpt
In many ways, Whym Island is like any of the hundreds of tiny islands dotting the South Carolina coast. It’s got year-rounders, plus an infusion of visitors that swells its population to more than five times its off-season size. It has windswept cottages, sprawling resorts, and a coastline that makes visitors catch their breath and immediately do some mental math, desperate to find some way to live there year round. And, like all islands, it has secrets. Everyone knows that, in the 1960s, the mayor ran off with his gardener’s wife, and everyone knows people can occasionally hear an otherworldly keening by the beach on Bloody Point thanks to a nineteenth-century shipwreck.
During the summer, year-rounders will avoid the ferry dock, the Hardware Store bar and restaurant, Burton Park, and the town square commons, because they know these spots will be overrun by tourists. On the beach, the two groups, indistinguishable from each other to outsiders, will barely acknowledge each other with anything besides a chilly nod. Just like all the other islands in the Calibogue Sound.
Except the one thing that Whym has that other nearby islands—like Breton or Johns or Adventure Island—don’t, is an air of mystery. For one thing, Whym has unusual tides, which don’t always conform to the tide chart. This is annoying to fishermen, enchanting to visitors. Called witch tides by locals, low tide can suddenly, in an instant, turn into a relentless rushing high tide. Oceanographers say it’s a natural phenomenon caused by unusual plate tectonic activity. The locals explain that there’s a sunken island beneath the sea, ruled by a sea witch.
The visitors can’t get enough of that story. Which is why, during the summer, there are sea witch tours instead of whale watch tours, sea witch specials at all the seafood restaurants, and, of course, plenty of sea witch souvenirs at the postage-stamp size Souvenir Shoppe, a weather-beaten shack that lies to the right of the Faunterloy Ferry dock. The Souvenir Shoppe, too, is just like any other souvenir shop on any other island. You know the ones: The floors are perpetually gritty with sand, there’s a thin layer of dust on all the shot glasses, ashtrays, and bells that are perched on high shelves, and there’s a line of cheap candy at eye-level for five-year-olds. On Whym, the Souvenir Shoppe also contains handmade puppets of the mermen and mermaids believed to live beneath the sea. They all have slight smiles and hair made out of yarn and are usually only purchased by well-meaning grandmothers. Next to them is a shelf of mermaid food, which is simply multicolored fish pellets that children enjoy throwing into the water as the ferry is departing, as well as mermaid gloss, a sparkly lip gloss popular with visitors under ten.
And then, of course, there’s a shaky rack of postcards. The postcards always show the most beautiful images of the islands. They’ll show the sunset, the line of gorgeous willow trees that hide the row of mansions that regulars live in, a couple walking on the beach, just hazy enough to be unidentifiable.
On all of them, the same tagline: “Whym Island: Some things have to be seen to be believed.”
But that’s not exactly correct. What it should read is: “On Whym Island, some things have to be believed to be seen.”
© 2012 Anna Davies and Simon & Schuster