Author: Mandy Hubbard
Publisher: Razorbill (July 21, 2011)
Page count: 260
Source: ARC from the author, via Around the World ARC Tours
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Summary from Goodreads:
Lexi is cursed with a dark secret. Each day she goes to school like a normal teenager, and each night she must swim, or the pain will be unbearable. She is a siren – a deadly mermaid destined to lure men to their watery deaths. After a terrible tragedy, Lexi shut herself off from the world, vowing to protect the ones she loves. But she soon finds herself caught between a new boy at school who may have the power to melt her icy exterior, and a handsome water spirit who says he can break Lexi’s curse if she gives up everything else. Lexi is faced with the hardest decision she’s ever had to make: the life she’s always longed for – or the love she can’t live without?
Mermaid/siren books are becoming the new paranormal “it book,” so I was a little cautious about this one. I tend to avoid books in whatever genre’s currently the most popular. But I was pleasantly surprised and ended up really loving this book.
Lexi is a likable character. The poor girl has been living inside her own personal hell for two years, friendless and alone, keeping her secret of having to swim every night instead of sleep. She’s shunned at school, and her only family is her elderly grandmother. But at the beginning of her senior year, Lexi’s old friend Cole starts talking to her again. Lexi, Cole, and Sienna, Lexi’s ex-best friend are thrown together for a class project, and Sienna’s iciness to Lexi begins to melt a bit.
A romance blossoms between Lexi and Cole just at the moment Lexi notices a new guy in school. Erik is wildly attractive, and Lexi is startled to see that he shares her same clear blue eyes. She finds him unsettling, but is still drawn to him.
Somehow Mandy Hubbard makes this paranormal romance feel like a contemporary one. The siren aspect of Lexi’s life is what defines her at this point in her story, but it almost seems secondary to the love triangle that emerges, and to the patched-up friendship between Lexi and Sienna. There’s also danger, intrigue, and mystery thrown in. Hubbard throws out little clues along the way that for an avid mystery reader like me make the twist a little too obvious, but the process of getting there is still fun and interesting. The book’s climactic ending is heart-pounding and satisfying.
I appreciate how Lexi is drawn to both Cole and Erik, but asks herself mature, important questions about love. She isn’t content to fall into the arms of either boy just because he’s attractive and paying her attention. For Lexi, what’s beneath the surface matters more. She’s a mature, poised heroine, which only adds to her likability.
I’ve read Hubbard’s other two YA books, Prada & Prejudice and You Wish, and I think Ripple takes Hubbard’s writing and storytelling to a new level. Perhaps her true calling is to this gritty, edgy, but still ultimately hopeful and happy, sub-genre of YA.