Series: Of Poseidon #1
Author Anna Banks
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Page Count: 326
Summary from Goodreads:
Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...
Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.
As a general rule, I don’t read books I know I won’t like. Much as I’m tempted, sometimes, to give in to a bad case of morbid curiosity, I don’t. Reading books I don’t enjoy isn’t fun, and writing reviews for those books isn’t fun either. It’s a no-win situation. When the reviews for Of Poseidon started circulating, about six months ago, I promptly put this book off of my to-read list and didn’t give it a second thought. I don’t have the time or patience to suffer through reportedly sexist and idiotic mermaid books. But I guess that when I decided to let my “friends” pick the books I read next, I opened myself up for semi-self-inflicted torture. Of Poseidon found its way back on my to-read list a few weeks ago, and I really wish it hadn’t.
My thoughts on this novel can be neatly divided into three sections. This review is also heavy on quotes, because I really think Of Poseidon speaks for itself.
1. THE SEXISM
Obviously, the biggest complaint that accompanies Of Poseidon is the blatant and unapologetic sexism Anna Banks portrays. It is an issue, and though it’s been addressed more eloquently and thoroughly by other reviewers, I’ll say it again. There is nothing wrong with simply portraying a sexist society; there is, however, something wrong with condoning it. I feel about this book similarly to the way I felt about Crewel—whatever the author’s actual intent, it appears that Banks approves of the deeply sexist society she portrays. And that’s not acceptable. Especially when it’s coupled with the ridiculous amounts of hypocrisy these characters show.
For instance, Galen’s sister Rayna has been mated against her will and without her knowledge to Toraf. Toraf spends most of his time chasing Rayna around and sexually assaulting her. She fights back against him, and even Emma wonders why she’s being so cold. But when Galen starts chasing after Emma, Toraf tells him to stop; chasing a woman is wrong and will reap no results. WHAT?
Additionally, when Emma finds out that the mermaid society is inherently sexist and that Rayna is being forced to mate against her will, she freaks out. Rightly so. But after spending a few hours with Galen, she accepts that Rayna will just have to deal with Toraf, and she even goes so far as to help Toraf trick Rayna into admitting that’s she’s actually been in love with him this whole time. Again, WHAT?
And even though this quote has been making the rounds for months now, I’m still going to include it, because I think it’s very indicative of who Galen, this book’s main love interest, is.
“Why couldn’t I find a suitable mild-tempered female to mate with? [...] He scours his memory for a sweet-natured Syrena who would take care of him, who would do whatever he asked, who would never argue with him.” (85%)
Need I say more?
2. THE ROMANCE
Though I think that Galen’s atrocious behavior toward Emma was informed by his sexist upbringing, I place it in a separate category, simply because Emma’s participation in the romance only compounded things. Much like the relationship in Twilight, the romance between Galen and Emma exhibits several signs of abuse/co-dependence. Galen is a creepy stalker guy who demands perfect obedience, and Emma is a spineless beauty who blushes and turns to goo whenever she gets a good look into Galen’s gorgeous violet eyes.
Within the first few chapters, Galen grabs Emma hard enough to bruise, scares her badly enough that she runs away from him, and stalks her fairly hardcore. But she continues to hang out with him and daydream about kissing him.
“I try to pinch him again, but he catches my wrist and pulls me over his lap like a child getting a spanking.” (29%)
That scene was after maybe two days of acquaintance, just so you know.
Eventually (and completely unrelated to Galen’s abusive treatment of her), Emma breaks up with Galen. She then goes out on a date with a nice boy who’s had a crush on her since middle school, and who she liked a lot before meeting Galen. Of course, this doesn’t fly with Galen, since he follows Emma and her date, stands outside their car, creeps along, makes threats, and generally acts like a psycho. And Emma takes him back. But even worse for me was what Emma had to say on the issue:
“I’ve abandoned my hurt for rage o-plenty, struck by the realization that I’ve turned into ‘that girl.’ Not the one who exchanges her doctorate for some kids and a three-bedroom two-bath, but the other kind. That girl who exchanges her dignity and chances for happiness for some possessive loser who beats her when she makes eye contact with some random guy working the hot dog stand. [...]
“He acted like a lunatic tonight, stalking me to Atlantic City, blowing up my phone, and threatening my date with physical violence. He made serial-killer eyes…” (89%)
EXCUSE ME. While Emma doesn’t quite beat out Bella Swan in my book, she came pretty damn close. Does she have no brains at all?
3. THE WRITING
Anna Banks is not a good writer. There’s really no way to put it nicely, and that’s it. I truly and honestly wonder how Of Poseidon was published, because sexist themes and abusive relationship aside, the writing is fairly awful.
First off, Banks didn’t even bother to research the mythology she borrowed from. It’s explicitly stated in this book that Poseidon and Triton were brothers. Uh, no. Actually, Triton was Poseidon’s son. And since I found that information on Wikipedia, I’m putting down that mistake as pure laziness on the author’s part.
And then, there was just the awful word-choice that permeated practically every page of this book.
“The shark turns, saunters away as if sulking.” (8%)
Right now, I want you to visualize a sauntering shark. I’ll wait. Now tell me honestly: is there ANY context where that image is not hilarious? Because I can’t think of one.
“Emma whimpers into the sanctity of his chest.” (33%)
Well, the truth is out, and here it is: Galen is actually God. Jesus Christ version 2.0—The Holy Mackerel.
Just let all of that sink in.
Viewer’s Choice Reviews is a feature here at Respiring Thoughts where you, my viewers, get to pick what I read and review. This is a great opportunity to interact with me and share your favorite (or least favorite) titles. I welcome any and all recommendations, so please don’t hesitate to participate. Learn more about this feature and submit your own recommendation HERE!
Thanks to Christina for recommending Of Poseidon to me! I really appreciate it. (Or in this case…not so much, LOL.)
Next time on Viewer’s Choice: Faking Faith by Josie Bloss
See you then!