Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: Florence by Ciye Cho

Goodreads Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Florence Waverley is out of her depth. Literally. Kidnapped and taken below the waves to the mer world of Niemela, she is the ultimate gift for merman Prince Kiren: a human familiar tied to his side. But nothing is what it seems amid the beauty and danger of a dark ocean.

Every Niemelan has a role to play, from the mermaids who weave towers out of kelp to the warriors who fight sea monsters. But in trying to survive, Florence will end up in the middle of a war between the mer and the Darkness. A conflict that will push her between two brothers: Kiren, the charmer inexplicably drawn to both her and the monsters; and Rolan, the loner who has been pushing her away since the day they met. But in order to take a stand--and find out where she belongs--Florence will have to risk it all: her life, her heart... and her very soul.

My Review:  
I guess this is the disclosure part again: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. But I want to say that the author didn't solicit me to do this. I saw the beautiful book cover on two other blogs, noted they were e-ARC's and tracked the author down and asked for a copy. 

The real standout thing in this book is the world building. A lot of recent mermaid books I've read really missed the opportunity to take us to another world. A world that's all the more magical because it's not on another planet or in the land of the Fae, it's just under the sea. What I especially love is the gift the author has for description- the prose is both crisp and spare and yet creates one of the most vivid worlds I've read recently. I've read a lot of books recently in which the author seems to have worn out a thesaurus- synonyms piled onto synonyms piled onto adverbs onto $2 words. They ended up creating a big boring mess. I'll give you an example, here's a quote from Florence:
From the Chapter "Dinner on a Whale": We passed through the doorway to enter a chamber lined with black sea grass. A glowing mass of tiny white orbs hung from the ceiling, all of them arranged into a crown of branches, like a chandelier without wires. The light they created was milky. In the center of the room was a white whale that rested on its belly. It's tail was curled around it to form a ramp. Atop the animal was a table...
 Here's how it would have been written other books I've read recently: (My changes in red)
We made our ingress through the doorway to emerge into a chamber lined with inky, stygian, ebon sea grass that flowed around us like the ropes of a jet necklace. A glowing, shimmering, irridescent mass of tiny white orbs hung like incandescent shimmering pearls from the ceiling, all of them arranged into a crown of branches, like a luminous, lustrous, glistening chandelier without wires. The glowing, frosty light they created was milky- like transparent ivory, pearly snow . In the center of the colossal, cavernous, voluminous room was a snow-white whale that rested on its belly. It's tail was sinuously curling- spiraling, coiling, spiraling- around it to form a ramp. Atop the monumental, massive, mountainous animal was a table...
So, it really is a delightful trip we get to take with Florence as she explores Niemela. The author manages to convey the wonder and beauty she finds there to the reader. The one negative I felt about the book was the lack of tension in the first half of the book. The main driving force of the plot for the first half of the book seems to be that Florence wants to return to the surface- her world. And that just didn't create enough conflict, for me, to advance the plot. However, two things really make that a minor issue. First, it was great to play tourist with Florence and explore Niemela. The world-building was really that good. Second, the payoff at the end was great. The action that takes place at the end required a lot of set up. In a lot of books, the author just throws things in that make no sense and aren't consistent with what's happened earlier in the book. In Florence, the events in the second half of the book can be traced back to some clue the author left in the first half of the book. I don't want to spoil it, so I can't be more specific. Just know that eventually at the end the author does connect the dots.

Ratings, Recommendations, etc.
Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Genre Rating: 4 flippers
I do recommend this book to anyone who likes mermaid books. What I also liked is that this book is basically "clean"- no sex, bad language. However, I do think that in order to give this book a fair chance, read it when you're in the mood for a descriptive book. It's like The Night Circus- if you read it when you're in the right mood/frame of mind for it, it's magical.

Ciye Cho's Website

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