Published by GP Putnam's Sons (3.3.2020)
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Format: ARC, 423 pages
Seventeen-year-old Tempe was born into a world of water. When the Great Waves destroyed her planet, its people had to learn to survive living on the water, but the ruins of the cities below still called. Tempe dives daily, scavenging the ruins of a bygone era, searching for anything of value to trade for Notes. It isn't food or clothing that she wants to buy, but her dead sister's life. For a price, the research facility on the island of Palindromena will revive the dearly departed for twenty-four hours before returning them to death. It isn't a heartfelt reunion that Tempe is after; she wants answers. Elysea died keeping a terrible secret, one that has ignited an unquenchable fury in Tempe: Her beloved sister was responsible for the death of their parents. Tempe wants to know why.
But once revived, Elysea has other plans. She doesn't want to spend her last day in a cold room accounting for a crime she insists she didn't commit. Elysea wants her freedom and one final glimpse at the life that was stolen from her. She persuades Tempe to break her out of the facility, and they embark on a dangerous journey to discover the truth about their parents' death and mend their broken bond. But they're pursued every step of the way by two Palindromena employees desperate to find them before Elysea's time is up--and before the secret behind the revival process and the true cost of restored life is revealed.
Hooboy *takes deep breath* This is not going to be pretty. Honestly, I should have just DNFed this book. The only reason I didn’t is because the world was intriguing and in the beginning I was really interested. But sadly, the farther I read, the worse it got.
I’ll start with the positive: The concept was FANTASTIC. In the beginning, I was so onboard! It felt so much like Waterworld, which I love. The idea of a post-apocalyptic world of water is amazing! However, that was where the enjoyment ends. The world building was shoddy. There’s no nice way to put it. I still don’t even know if this was supposed to be a high fantasy or a sci-fi dystopia. It seemed like a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world – basically, the government used technology to melt the ice caps that were encasing a large portion of land because overpopulation was an issue and they needed more space. But they screwed up and melted too much, raising the sea level too high and burying all the land under water. Okay…far-fetched, but okay. I can roll with that. But it’s never mentioned if it’s actually Earth or not, even though everything seems to go by Earth’s rules and there’s nothing other-worldly about it to make it a High Fantasy world.
Then we have Palindromena, a high-tech island facility that brings loved ones back for 24 hours for an exorbitant price. Also a cool concept, but I don’t think the post-apocalyptic water world and the high tech facility really fit together. If they have access to that kind of technology, why is the rest of the world living in the dark ages? It seemed far-fetched to me (I know I keep using that word but it describes the whole book, sorry). Anyway, let’s suspend belief that this facility would exist in a world without land that otherwise lacks any technology. The way the tethering process works is also a reach. View Spoiler »There’s a bracelet, called an echolink, that connects a Warden (someone in charge of the revival process) to the dead patient that’s being revived via their heartbeat. So the revived patient shares a heartbeat with the Warden for 24 hours, but they can’t survive sharing for a second longer than that, so one of them has to be terminated. Okaaaayy. « Hide Spoiler I mean, the concept was cool. If you could have closure – the chance to say goodbye and see your loved ones one last time – would you? Interesting.
In addition to the terrible world building, this book also lacked any logic whatsoever. There were SO many things that were completely nonsensical, and the more I read the more they bugged the shit out of me.
First – There was a disease called Crystal Lung, which was a byproduct of living on the salt water. Salt coated everything (this part did make sense and was brilliantly done – people had to flip their cups upside down to avoid them getting coated in a layer of salt, which does happen when you live close/on the ocean), and people would literally get a disease from breathing in the salt water so much that it formed crystals in your lungs. Um, what?? People who live on the ocean in real life never have that problem. If this book had been about a different species, it would have been fine. But the subjects are human. According to The Lung Institute, breathing in ocean air actually improves lung function and reduces coughing.
Second – It was repeated multiple times that the Sunrise, the vessel the girls owned, only held 3 people. Any more, and it would sink. When I say repeated, it was beaten into your head and used as an excuse any time it would have made more sense for an extra person to join the group. This is not how boats work. A boat would have to be incredibly tiny to sink if a 4th person boarded. According to the Coast Guard, the general formula for maximum occupancy is L x W of the boat divided by 15. Now, for only 3 people, L x W would have to be 45. Assuming the boat is about 5 feet across, that makes it only 9 feet long. However, the way the boat is described makes it sound much larger than that. It even has a cabin below deck. This lack of logic bugged the ever loving shit out of me!! View Spoiler »The parents had to leave the girls behind because the boat couldn’t fit four people. Then, when the girls found their parents alive, they couldn’t all leave together – again, because the boat was too small. « Hide SpoilerIt was more like an excuse and a plot device than actual logic. Just because you have a pseudo-fantasy world (that feels more like futuristic Earth than any made up planet) doesn’t mean you get to break the laws of physics.
The whole plot was frankly frustrating. There was a countdown to create tension, but no real action or conflict. Or any kind of real stakes or danger.
View Spoiler »The whole reunion with the girls’ parents, along with their parents’ explanation as to why they left without the girls and let them think they were dead had me rolling my eyes. Why would they leave the girls behind, knowing the corporation wanted to kill them and that the girls would possibly be in danger as well? Nothing about any of it made any sense whatsoever.
I also predicted that Lor would give his life for Elysea as soon as it was revealed that the echolink was actually a tether between them, and only one of them (not necessarily the revived) had to die for the other to survive. SUPER predictable. However, I will say that I did not predict that Lor was actually revived himself, and that he’d actually taken his best friend’s place. But I was too frustrated by that point to appreciate the brilliance of the twist.
It also really pissed me off that they were going to revive Lor – again – after he took Elysea’s place. I’m glad it didn’t happen, because it would have cheapened Lor’s sacrifice, but the fact that it was even possible was rage inducing. It’s stated multiple times that someone CAN’T be revived twice and that it’s just not possible. (Something about their heart not being able to take it, blah blah blah.) Yet when Lor dies suddenly we get some bullshit reason that it actually WOULD be possible, if he had a stronger heart. « Hide Spoiler No, no, NO. There’s nothing that pisses me off more than when a book breaks its own rules. Don’t make the rules in the first place if you’re going to change them later on down the road when it’s convenient.
There was talk throughout the beginning of how dangerous the Untied Sea was to sail through, because the Remoran (aka pirates) dwelled there. When they said they were sailing into the Untied Sea, I got excited – pirates! Swashbuckling! Danger!! However, I was seriously disappointed. There was only one tiny blip and wham bam done they were out of the Untied Sea and I was left thinking, That’s it?? View Spoiler »The Remoran found them, and here’s the vicious captain of a group of (rumored) cannibalistic pirates – who has awesome blue hair and teeth literally filed to points – and all they did was talk about stealing their boat’s power and leaving them to float stranded out on the ocean. Until Lor conveniently escapes his bonds, hops over to the other ship, and sends it off without a wheel. And it was over. LAME. The Remoran do appear again at the very end, but it was also a brief interaction. « Hide Spoiler
In addition the all of that frustration, I also didn’t like any of the characters and couldn’t connect to them at all, so I felt absolutely nothing while reading. They didn’t have any real depth to them, and despite the two main girls’ motivation being love, I couldn’t find anything worth rooting for in them. In fact, I outright hated Tempest. Literally her only personality trait was being angry and standoffish and overall a horrible person to anyone except her sister (who she was also horrible to sometime). At one point Lor even said “she was angry – but then again, Tempest’s default setting was angry.” Yeah, because that’s her entire personality, bro. Even when her sister was revived she was still angry and horrible.
The farther I went and the more I thought about it, the more frustrated this story made me. I seriously should have just DNFed this when I realized I was no longer enjoying it. But because of the strong start, I held out hope that it would get better. Spoiler alert: It didn’t.
Writing style: 3/5
Overall rating: 1/5