by Brenda Pandos
There MUST be some sort of “Mer Mojo” in this book because once I opened it, the covers of my Kindle were glued to my hands. I had promised myself that I would take it one chapter at a time but that went by the boards quickly and I wanted to send my wife over to her mother’s for the week-end so I could read this in one marathon sitting. No food. No naps. The only time I’d stop would be for bathroom calls. Fortunately, none of that happened . . . for the most part. I don’t know HOW Brenda Pandos does it but she does it very, very well and the reader would be well advised to strap themselves in and prepare for the ride of their life.
Consistency – in anything – is difficult and as is often the case, the second book in a series is not quite as good as the first. The reader need not worry about this happening with Evergreen; This book is just as good as the first but for different reasons. In Everblue, there is the requisite exposition by way of introducing characters and world-building wrapped up in a very compelling story. Evergreen allows Brenda Pandos to take what she created in the first book and give it all a good workout where assumptions are tossed into the proverbial cocked hat and quite a bit of what you thought you knew turns out to be wrong to one degree or another. This is what helps to make the second book in the Mer Tales series a success.
Then, there are the two main characters; Ashley Lanski and Finley Helton, a.k.a. Ash & Fin. Ash is a young woman of seventeen years and a member of her school’s swim team. Fin is a Mer-boy and used to live with his parents next door to Ash. Together, they are promised to each other; a bit of Mer magic that binds the hearts and souls of two people from the moment of their very first kiss. Forever after, any significant separation can be gut-wrenching and emotionally trying, especially in the early part of their new relationship. Mononucleosis is a breeze compared to this.
Fin and his parents are on the run from the decidedly unsavoury elements of their politically deteriorating Kingdom known as Natatoria. Their destination is Boca Raton, Florida – the home of Florida Atlantic University – where Ash plans to attend school on a swimming scholarship. Ash is looking forward to a possible trip to the Olympics and a quiet college career on the FAU swim team where the most excitement will probably come from a bit of sub-aquatic snogging with Fin. As the story progresses, that becomes less and less likely. Ash will learn that sometimes, choices we thought we had are made for us and, most poignantly, that there is no going back from some things & gains are often accompanied by losses. Fin will learn that he doesn’t have quite as many options as he believed and that talking on the phone with Ash for too long can be hazardous to his health.
Evergreen is a YA-friendly book with enough thrills and excitement to keep older readers enthralled as well the young. Brenda Pandos teaches her YA readers about overcoming fear, enduring love, fidelity and hope. I cannot give this book any higher recommendation than this; It is a compelling and exciting book with endearing characters. If humans want an idea of the pain of separation that those who are promised to one another must endure, then they should by all means read Evergreen and then try waiting until the next book in the series comes out in 2013.
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