Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

August 16, 2015 Review 42 ★★★½

Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 416
Release Date: June 2nd 2015
Genres: Adolescence, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Fairy Tales & Folklore, General, Mermaids, Social Issues, Young Adult
The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .
This book may be unsuitable for younger readers due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence. Note that this review itself does not contain any inappropriate material.

I am a little bit of a black sheep when it comes to THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS. I enjoyed many aspects of this book, but I struggled to form an emotional connection with it or fully root for the romance, which was a big part of the novel.

“The girl who’d written volumes on the walls
but never said a word.”

Elyse, having lost her voice in an accident, was a bit hard for me to connect to, not because her feelings weren’t expressed through dialogue, but because I could not relate to her actions or truly understand her motivations. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing her journey with becoming comfortable with herself again, as there was some great character development.

Christian, our stereotypical impossible to resist heart-breaker was a little bit different. He and I immediately set off on the wrong foot. Besides his somewhat creepy sexual comments to the the main character, he pretty much flirts with any female he sees. Granted, it shows him having more depth later on, being less creepy and more supportive but I still couldn’t get behind the romance, especially one that seemed based on physical attraction for a large portion of the novel. One of their first exchanges:

Is there something I can do for you?
He laughed, raspy. “God, yes.”

Beyond the characters, the writing was vivid and imaginative, and this book has some great quotes. Major props to the author for tackling topics that we don’t see in YA every day but really should. Diversity!

As you might already know, I have this love-hate relationship with open endings (that is mostly hate) and I have mixed feelings about the conclusion in this one. On one hand, I like that it is open to your imagination and love the final message it leaves you with. On the other hand, it made me feel like there were still some loose ends that could have been tied up.

Overall, this is an entertaining summer read that adds something new to the genre.

“With the acceptance of one thing comes the dying of another: a new belief, a relationship. An ideal, a plan, a what-if. Assumptions. A path. A song.”

Rating Report
Overall: 3.4

42 Responses to “Review: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler”

  1. Faye la Patata

    Interesting insights, Alise! I know for certain that SOOOO many people adored this one, and there’s this invisible force behind me whispering in my ear everytime I go to the bookstore to get it. I love me some diversity, though, and books that tackle deep topics, because let’s face it, it’s time for those issues to be shed light on and not enough YA books out there are brave enough to include them. I’m bummed you didn’t like love-love this, but it pleases me there are still many things to love about it! :)
    Faye la Patata recently posted…ARC Review: Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman

    • Alise

      Everyone seems to find something to love about it so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to you, especially if you are already interested! I definitely agree, we need more contemporary books that talk about real issues. Thanks!

  2. Wattle

    Hmmm I am both tempted to read this, and not. So torn! I’m leaning toward yes though, because it is good to have more diversity in YA, and to get more we need to read more, I suppose (does that make sense? Look at me, talking myself into it, geesh!)

    Great review Alise :)
    Wattle recently posted…Showcase Sunday #31

    • Alise

      Aha, I do the same thing with books too, I always end up talking myself into reading something or another. Thanks! :D

  3. Nara

    I know what you mean about open endings, and while I don’t really like them overall, I feel like in contemporaries they’re sometimes okay, because there’s sort of the impression of the characters’ lives continuing, and we just get a snapshot of their lives in the book, sort of thing. That being said, sometimes they’re too open, and it’s like JUST TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED D:
    Nara recently posted…Review: Soulprint by Megan Miranda

    • Alise

      I thought about that too! They really do seem to be getting more common in contemporaries and while this story was mostly wrapped up I like to know ALL THE THINGS. Haha

  4. Melliane

    It’s a bit complicated when you have characters like that or even a romance like that but in a whole it sounds ok. Maybe. thanks for the review!

    • Alise

      Really? I’m so glad I’m not the only one then! That’s exactly how I felt too, that aspect didn’t work that well for me either.

  5. Vane J.

    I have this book and I can’t wait to read it, though the hype really scares me. I love that it has diversity, and the synopsis kind of intrigues me, but you points about the stereotypical love interests are so right. Anyway, I can’t wait to read this. Maybe I’ll like it. :)
    Vane J. recently posted…The Liebster Award

  6. Julia Anne @ Peach Print

    So many people just loved and raved about this book, but I couldn’t quite get myself into it. The romance and the yes, predictable Christian Kane, didn’t work for me. As you said, I appreciated the diversity factor and character development, though. And I usually love Sarah Ockler books, so it was a bit disappointing for me. Nonetheless, great review, Alise! I’m glad to have come across another who shares my thoughts. :)
    Julia Anne @ Peach Print recently posted…Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

    • Alise

      Christian didn’t completely work for me either. Hr was just like every other love interest, although he changed a bit in the end. Thank you :) Yeah, I love seeing so many different opinions but it is nice to see someone who felt the same!

  7. Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

    I really love how this book tackles such tough topics. Ockler doesn’t shy away from anything. It was a bit hard for me to connect with Elyse at first too, but her character development was great. I never really got on board with the romance either… Great review!

    • Alise

      She doesn’t, and it makes for a story all the more realistic! The character development in this one really did add to the story, I was happy to see the changes as well. Thanks :D

  8. Tanja

    I, too, love YA books that speak about some really issues and with all that have diversity. I’m not into fluffy summer reads but this one might be just what I need. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Great review, Alise :)
    Tanja recently posted…It’s ALIVE!

    • Alise

      It’s a fun summer read but doesn’t have too much fluff, although the romance wasn’t my favorite aspect I think there are still some great aspects here to enjoy! Thanks :D

  9. Kirsty-Marie Jones

    Nice to see a different side, since all I’ve been reading are mainly positive review for it, but uhm, I don’t know if I’d like Christian now, I mean, the flirting probably wouldn’t bother me, but the creepy sexual comments in the beginning would annoy me, too.
    Kirsty-Marie Jones recently posted…One

    • Alise

      In the beginning Christian loves spouting out sexual innuendos but he does gradually change for the better by the end. There’s nothing that really separates him from other contemporary YA love interests.

  10. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    I’m sorry that you ended up being a little bit of a black sheep with this one Alise! That always sucks! Yours is actually the first review I read for it so I have zero expectations. The premise sounds unique and that’s always a plus! I don’t like the sound of the male romantic interest though. That quote you shared and the way you describe him have got me like: Nope.Nope.Nope. already O.O I’m glad you enjoyed the writing and diversity but sorry the characters romance and that open ending (damn open endings!) xx
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Fandom Mashup #15

    • Alise

      No worries! Yeah, he was one of the major issues I had in the book. He does get better as the story goes on, but I couldn’t fully ship the couple. He loves his sexual comments -_- Thanks!

    • Alise

      Hahaha, he was kinda creepy, especially in the beginning. He doesn’t take advantage of her but his comments-ugh. Yeah, I liked the rest! Thanks :)

  11. Romi

    Totally interesting review, Alise, I agree with Faye. I like the fact it’s taking on a subject that, as you say, isn’t dealt with often in YA, but at the same time it sounds like the romance overshadows anything much else- it’s the main plot point- and for me I need much more in a book. Unless it’s exceptional, romance just doesn’t tide me over, and yeah, sure, Noah Shaw and a couple of the other irresistable bad boy characters (Han Solo, for example) are ones I swoon for, but this guy… sounds like he’s a bit more on the creepy side. Like I hope she had pepper spray, maybe?

    Lovely review- and gif use- Alise. xx
    Romi recently posted…Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saénz.

    • Alise

      Yeah, I’d like to say that it wasn’t, but the romance was one of the biggest plot points, and is kind of what makes the main character finally become a bit more comfortable with herself. It’s a good book, but not a GREAT one for me, you know? Haha, for some reason I do feel like pepper spray was mentioned but it could have been a different book.

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