Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: Undertow

Title: Undertow
Author: Callie Kingston

Book Summary:

“While she sleeps beside a log on the wild Oregon coast, a rogue wave pulls Marissa into the sea.  Now she dreams each night of a merman who rescues her.  Obsessed with returning to this beautiful creature, she again risks her life in the frigid ocean.

Will Marissa remain lost forever in the eddies of her mind, or can real love save her from the abyss?  Sometimes, the dangers which lie within are the deadliest.”

Marissa has a problem--- several actually, most importantly is that her boyfriend breaks up with her.  Well, really, she catches the lying, cheating jerk talking with another girl, flips out, and leaves.  Then, Marissa goes to the beach to calm down and drifts off to sleep.  The next thing she knows, she’s waking up in a hospital: confused and afraid.  Everyone keeps telling her that she should have drowned, but the only thing Marissa knows for sure is she can’t get the merman who saved her out of her head…

When I first read the premise, I am excited.  Undertow sounds like it has great promise and will definitely be something I enjoy.  Who doesn’t like stories about mermen?  I haven’t read a good sea creature love story for a while, so Undertow is just in time!  Or not…

Undertow is NOT about a merman and a land dweller that live happily ever after despite their differences (as the book synopsis suggests).  Instead, it is about a girl who has serious mental issues and has to try to deal with her growing problems.  Throughout the story, I see her slowly slip further away from reality until she is almost unrecognizable to the character that I meet in the beginning. 

            Right off the bat, I am not thrilled with Marissa.  In the opening scene, I think that she blows things WAY out of proportion.  Yes, her boyfriend is cheating on her.  Yes, he admits it later.  No, the “proof” she has is not good enough to support her accusation.  I understand that she’s upset because she thinks he’s cheating on her… but, really, just because a boyfriend talks to another girl does not automatically mean that he is cheating.  Throughout the rest of the novel, I find myself easily irritated by things that Marissa does and says. 

            Though it is hard for me to connect with Marissa, I still really like how Kingston shows the progression (or rather digression) into insanity.  I can definitely see someone in Marissa’s shoes being frustrated and irritable after everything that she goes through.  The hard road Marissa has to face is evident, and it makes me want to know more.  One thing that I like is that towards the end of the book I learn more about why things are so strained between everyone in Marissa’s family… it’s not pleasant, but it makes sense.  The major problem with this is that by the time I find out why Marissa acts the way she does I already don’t like her and don’t care.  I don’t have any sort of bond with her, which makes her problems, and past issues seem flat and unimportant.  My lack of empathy with Marissa coupled with the misleading summary drastically takes away from this book for me.

            Undertow definitely has many great elements, the story just doesn’t click with me.  If your looking for a paranormal merman story this is not the book for you, but I would definitely recommend Undertow to people who like reading about psychological challenges and self discovery.

The Cover:

I really like this cover; it drew me in from the start!  I did think that it was more symbolism for the merman and human plotline, but I can see why it would be fitting for this type of story as well.  Very intriguing cover!

I give Undertow 3 out of 5 hearts: Worth Reading

To find out more about Callie Kingston visit her website here:

To buy Undertow go here:

ebook                      paper


  1. Hm it sounds like it's a strange book. I don't know if I'll try this one.

    Great review! :)

    Jenny at Books to the Sky

    1. Jenny: It's worth a try.. just not my thing!

  2. Thank you for the review, Lauren. While Undertow wasn't exactly your cup of tea, I appreciate the time you took to share your opinion with your readers. Hopefully, it will assist readers to choose Undertow for what it is, a realistic story, rather than mistakenly expecting a paranormal romance.


  3. I really don't like to cover!! Lol is that horrible? I don't care. Thanks for sharing with us!

  4. I think it's a very unique take on mental illness - I wonder if the merman element is a metaphor in some way for her mental illness.

  5. +JMJ+

    Just when I was thinking this would be yet another novel about a human girl falling in love with some supernatural guy . . .

    The mental illness twist is great! I'd really, really like to check this book out now.

    Thanks for the review! =)